^_^  Saruskabeth ^_^

Today, while out with my children, I was gripped by the realization that Madison needed to eat. Well, really, I was gripped by her anxious fingers as she attempted to rip my clothes off on the spot, but same difference. So I sat down on a bench, sent my boys to play, and pulled on my nursing wrap to feed her.

Now, Madison is five months old. Well within the recommended age to nurse. I cover up completely; not even my shoulder or a little belly skin shows.  (Though I will admit, there have been one or two oopsies during my three years as a nursing mom where a hungry baby demanded food but, alas, the blanket or nursing wrap had been left behind. Those times, I made do with what I had. I’d hide in a secluded corner or escape to a bathroom. Only once have I taken the saying, “grin and (ahem) bare it” to that next level. And that was at a close friend’s house.) After two previous babies I guess I should be used to the curious glances, the “oh, wow” looks when it dawns on onlookers what is going on. Still, I get frustrated sometimes. Today, we were at a kid-friendly restaurant in a play area. Two mothers looked distgusted, then actually took their children and left when I started to nurse, and the one dad turned bright red and went to the other side of the area. Another mother wrinkled her nose and asked me, “How can you do that to your child?”

…I’m sorry, how can I what, exactly? How can I give her the best possible start in brain, heart, and lung development? How can I provide her with potentially life-saving antibodies? How can I feed her in the only natural way and encourage bonding in the process? Don’t get me wrong, I have close friends who chose not to breastfeed, and I don’t think its because they don’t love their children. But to insinuate that I am doing something harmful by breastfeeding my child is just…bizarre, if you ask me. I understand the gentleman being a little uncomfortable, and I respect that. But am I wrong to be slightly irritated that the mothers left because of what I was doing? Am I wrong to feed my baby when she gets hungry, just as bottle fed babies would receivea bottle? Why is it so taboo in America to see a nursing mother? Have we sexualized the breast that much, to the point where it can’t even be used discreetly for the purpose it was intended? I know, nursing your baby isn’t the only purpose — it is, I believe, meant to besexually attractive, but gee whiz. I’ve got a dual-purpose coffee table at home. It pulls out for storage as well as a full-height table. When my husband and I eat at it, I don’t get queasy thinking about all my scrap booking supplies hidden inside. Okay, so its not really the same, but you get the point….

Earlier in my motherhood, I discovered that my state has absolutely no laws governing breastfeeding. That means that its up to your employer whether they allow breaks to nurse or pump milk for your baby.  Its up to police officers to decide what is nurturing your child and what is indecent exposure. They can even cite you for indecent exposure in the presence of a minor, if they feel like it. And then, its up to your judge to decide whether to throw it out or throw you in jail! Insanity, if you ask me.

So here’s my question to you: Do you believe that breastfeeding should be allowed in public? And how exposed is too exposed?

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