Last night I had my first “real” encounter with nursing in public. Yes, I've seen women nurse in public before, like someone across the room at a restaurant, but never someone I was actually interacting with.
Much as I hate to admit it, I was uncomfortable.
Here's the situation. My husband and I brought Levi to our regular ECFE class (Early Childhood Family Education). At class, we all sit in a big circle. During class, it's expected that parents might feed their kids, get up and rock them, have to leave to change a diaper, etc… It's an infant class, after all.
Two different women wound up nursing during class last night. They pulled out their nursing covers, tucked their baby underneath, and continued participating in the discussion.
Here are my thoughts on this:
1) BRAVO!! I think it's cool that they're comfortable nursing in public.
2) How the heck do they do that? Levi & I didn't really get the hang of nursing at home before I switched to exclusively pumping*, so I can't even imagine all the coordination it takes to nurse in public, under a cover, where it's harder to see what's going on.
3) Thank you for using a cover. Yes, I know you CAN nurse in public without one, but I believe in modesty and I appreciate women who use them.
4) How am I supposed to act?
#4 is where the uncomfortable part came in. I'm not aware of any social etiquette as far as interacting with a mom who is nursing in public. Am I supposed to acknowledge that she's feeding her child and give her privacy? Should I continue the conversation? Do I ask her what her preference is?
What made it even more awkward was that Jason was with me, and I wasn't sure if I was supposed to be guiding him on this, too. Because if I don't know how to act, I'm sure he doesn't, either. Since I'm not nursing, I felt like I was left out somehow of an “in” group that not only gets to nurse their babies, but also knows the social etiquette that goes along with it.
I want to be better prepared next time – what do you recommend in situations like this?
*If you're new to my blog, it's probably helpful for you to know that I'm an exclusive pumping mom. About 2 weeks after Levi was born, I developed a breast absecess that required two different surgeries. Needless to say, that interrupted our breastfeeding relationship a bit. Even though I bottle-feed my son breastmilk, I still consider myself a breastfeeding mama.