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Little Old Men… & Nursing in Public

Welcome Readers…to my first Carnival of Breastfeeding post!
This month’s topic is “Nursing in Public”.
Links to all the Carnival Posts are listed @ the bottom. I’ll update this as more are posted.

Keep checking back and Enjoy!!

My first baby was born in sunny Florida during a particularly hot stretch in May 1979.  Although I was an OB nurse, I knew very little about breastfeeding other than what my older co-workers had taught me—which was not all that correct or very helpful information. Luckily, I had a great friend who was nursing her 3 month old at the time my son was born. She really showed me the ropes. It just so happened that she was the one who took me home from the hospital. We had to stop at the store for a few items so we went in to a “Publix” supermarket with both babies in our arms.  My newborn son began fussing to nurse soon after we hit the air conditioning.

I said.. “I’m going to have to go back out to the car and nurse him.”

My friend says “Oh..You’ll do no such thing.. You’ll die in that heat.. Just hook him up and keep shopping so we can get finished and out of here!”

Me- “Nurse him in here?”

Friend- “Well if he’s hungry.. yeah!.. (after looking at my face) Oh stop worrying about it..go over to a deserted aisle, get him hooked on and put your receiving blanket up near his face… nobody will know!”

Me- timidly…above the louder howls.. “Alright, be right back..”

I found the most private place I could. I started cursing that complicated “wonderful nursing bra” I just had to have. (Remember..this is 30 years ago… this bra is now an antique!) My skills handling newborns allowed me some grace as I attempted to multitask by stooping down, prop my loudly crying baby on my partial lap, use 2 hands to fiddle with the damn nursing bra, then get him back up near my finally free boob and latched on.

Ahhhh~ quiet, happy, drinking baby!

Still stooped down, I peered slowly behind me — expecting that a large crowd must have assembled. Somewhat surprisingly, everybody was just going about their business and I happily realized that noone was looking at me! I stood up, made sure I wasn’t showing anything, and walked off with my happily nursing baby to find my friend.

It’s amazing how many people want to see a quiet baby as opposed to a screaming infant!

A sweet little old man stopped me first and asked me how old my baby was….”3 days”, I replied. He peeked in for a closer look and he actually didn’t get it right away.. “I can’t really see his face.”.. I said “Well- he’s feeding right now.”.. He just said..”OOPS….sorry about that! Well he’s a cute one!” then walked off.

The next person who stopped me was again.. a sweet little old man. He was very smiley and jolly. He asked all about the baby but didn’t lean over to look like the other man. I quickly said he’s nursing now and then answered all the small talk.  He never seemed uncomfortable about it at all! That probably gave me a lot more confidence. We parted ways and I finally found my friend. She gave me an approving thumbs up, asked me to hold a basket with my other hand and said we were almost done.

Another little old man stopped us by the register to ask about both babies. We gave him all the small talk answers and let him know my son was nursing. This guy was a real sweetie, commenting on how lucky kids were that moms were starting to “nurse their young” again and ‘good for you.”  He never tried to look in at my son. He didn’t seem embarrassed by the process at all. He was the coolest guy!

I left the Publix Supermarket on my way home to begin my life as a mommy…. with a little public education bonus.  Encountering those sweet little old men while feeding my baby and receiving their positive type feedback was the gentle support I needed. I went on to feel empowered to nurse in public for all three of my babies…  Those little old men were just so supportive! ~ When my baby was hungry, he needed to feed and it really didn’t matter where I was at the time.  Thank goodness for my friend’s wisdom and support to go for it!

I became a lactation professional while nursing my last baby. It was then, only after I really became more aware of issues surrounding nursing in public that I actually took any kind of public action to empower other moms.  I’ve done lots of different little things as the years have gone by. I want to mention one fun way that I thought I could help gently re-educate some of the “new” sweet little old men of this day and age.  Our local paper has a lot of little retired guys commenting back and forth on various local articles. I’m guessing their age and status by all the things they say. I took this opportunity to possibly educate some of these forum readers about breastfeeding rights in public.  Every once in a while, on the forum, I put out a little snippet on nursing in public… and sit back and watch what they have to say in reply! It’s quite fun!

Here’s an example I wrote on a long forum discussion a couple years ago on a breastfeeding article:

On another note, regarding a reader reaction in the forum, a skimpy bikini or the bathing-suit issue of a favorite sports magazine show more skin in a provocative, sexy way than any mom breast-feeding. Even the movie stars in their gowns with plunging necklines are showing almost the entire breast! Somehow, that is OK. It is sad that the public opinion of a baby breast-feeding (the most natural way for him to eat) is something that should be done in private … yet young girls are encouraged by media to bare more and more skin. Of course being discreet while feeding is important, but I can assure you, most girls in a tiny bikini are thinking more about “tacky exhibitionist behavior” than a mother breast-feeding her baby. August 1-7 is always World Breast Feeding Week. The theme this year is “Welcome Baby Softly,” focusing on the importance of the first hour or two after birth. Learn more about it. I would love to see the paper do an article on that.

This one provoked a few responses in both directions and sometimes there were a few people who actually thought out loud that …gosh maybe I was right… never thought about it that way…etc..

Here’s an example I wrote on a recent article about the appropriate % amount for tipping :

I have never left an establishment without tipping– however, I also tip according to service up to 20%. If there are unkind reactions to small children in a FAMILY establishment, they will be getting a bare minimal tip for sure!! I do my best to keep my children behaved with table manners AND respect other patrons… but fact remains, they are children! I cannot possibly be prepared for every behavior or an accidental spill. In addition, my breastfeeding baby may be hungry.. By PA law, I have the right to nurse my baby in a public place wherever he and I are allowed to be. I am discreet.. I am protected by law… I don’t need an unkind comment from servers. They do not get a 15-20% tip if nasty, unkind or disrespectful comments have been made about my children or my breastfeeding baby!

This provoked a foray of comments ranging from ‘good for you’ to ‘you should be in the back booth…controlling kids etc..’  Sometimes the opportunities to educate others come at unexpected times but produce amazing results!

On a few occasions, other readers were supporting my comments and

helping to educate those sweet little old guys with me!


Carnival of Breastfeeding Post Links (Check back for updates)

29 Comments Post a comment
  1. I nursed in public all the time. Didn’t bother me in the least bit. I also couldn’t care less what other people thought of me nursing in public. Do I complain about women who bottle feed in public? No. So the shut the F up about NIP. 🙂 :::batting eyelashes::

    June 21, 2009
  2. Oh man, I didn’t for you to shut up about NIP!! Wrote that wrong. I meant, for those who are “offended” by moms who NIP.

    June 21, 2009
    • Birth_Lactation #

      I love you!! I am LMFAO!

      June 21, 2009
  3. I love that those little old men were so open and encouraging. I think it’s great that you’re educating the “new” little old men, because I don’t think they’re quite the same. Which is just another reason that we need to re-establish a breastfeeding culture. NIP should not even be an issue, it should just be the norm.

    June 21, 2009
  4. Laughingmom #

    Oh I am laughing! When my own daughter was a tiny baby I was in a department store and she was DEMANDING to be fed right this INSTANT!

    So I picked her up, and ducked behind a clothing rack and got her latched on, with my handy nursing shirt in place, and I stepped back out.

    A dear sweet old lady, who was 85 if she was a day, walked directly up to me, looked square at dd n ursing and said “Oh she’s eating, isn’t it lovely?” and marched away with a smile.

    That dear little old lady did wonders for my confidence.

    Thank you for sharing!

    June 21, 2009
  5. i love reading your blog and have learned a lot about your experiences. hopefully, the little old men of 30 years ago will be back to encourage new moms 😀

    June 21, 2009
  6. Kim #

    Love the sweet little old men! I think that generation often gives the most supportive looks 🙂

    June 21, 2009
  7. What a great story. I think these little old men of 30 years ago give us a glimpse back in time (about 100 years ago if they were 70 years old or so) when breastfeeding was the norm. It is time to normalize, mainstream and accept breastfeeding and breastfeeding in public once again.

    June 22, 2009
  8. Just wanted to tell you I love your blog and have been reading for awhile now. I think you are fabulous!

    June 22, 2009
  9. What a great idea! I wrote a letter to the editor of our local paper in response to an editorial that ran saying that using the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms was a waste of time for breastfeeding mothers and should be used only when racist or sexist issues occur. The letter ran and they even ran a breastfeeding photo with it. While I know it helped educate a few people who read it the only letter they ran in response to it urged me and mothers like me to NIP discreetly – an dit was written by a woman! (This reminds me, I should post it one of these days!)
    As for old men, they have always been the coolest. I had one come up to me when I was nursing my 1st dd and he was stroking her head and chatting away to me, then all of a sudden he realized she was nursing. “oh, she’s nursing!” he said, then he ended our conversation quickly, but very politely, and that was that.

    June 22, 2009
  10. If only every new mom could face a situation like this in the first few days!

    I look forward to reading more of your blog!

    June 22, 2009
  11. My interactions with men have shown me that they are, in general, a lot less uptight about NIP than women are. Over the years I’ve received *one* negative comment and the stink-eye twice. All three times from women (one time from a gal whose poor newborn howled a good five minutes straight because they couldn’t figure out how to mix him up a bottle in Golden Corral!).

    I nursed all over NOB Norfolk. I nursed in the Commissary, in the NEX, in a couple of the McDonald’s, at Applebee’s just off base, etc. I even nursed in Submarine Squadron Six offices and on Pier 5 (the sub pier). Then I went to Hawaii and nursed all over Pearl Harbor, Hickam AFB, Schofield Barracks, & Marine Corps Base Kane’ohe. Got nothing but respect from the men.

    I had a very good little old lady experience early on. Was nursing the eldest in Shoney’s in Norfolk…this was early days so I was still covering her with a blanket. An elderly lady came up to me and said she just had to see the baby eating; she hadn’t seen an infant nurse in a long time. 🙂 It was sweet.

    June 23, 2009
  12. You just inspired a post from me, which I will of course give you muse credit. It will be entitled “The Weirdest Places you ever Breastfed.” just like all the stupid “The Weirdest Places you have ever had sex articles in women’s mags.” I am in the mile-high breastfeeding club, with my then 9 month old’s legs sprawled out on the poor old guy sitting next to me. He was so nice, never said a word. He even offered his seat so I could change her diaper on it! (which I did not do). Did get a lot of skunk eyes from young women on the plane however.

    June 23, 2009
  13. Some of those little old people tend to be the biggest breastfeeding supporters.

    I was supported more by my elderly relatives who actually nursed than anyone else.

    June 24, 2009
  14. For a hilarious breast-feeding story about nursing in public, check out this account of my wife at

    August 21, 2009
  15. Me #

    My hubby came home from work earlier this week (Either Mon, Tue, or Wed, since he’s now a House Husband again… until the next construction job) and happily shared with me that he saw a gal nursing on the bus. She was so modest about it, he was questioning if she was doing it at all, until she got off the bus and accidentally saw down her cover. He forgot that there are those covers with the wire neck area (well, I told him that I wanted one… perhaps he was just not listening. LOL).

    Our son is 15w, and we started out a little bumpy. He was in the NICU for meconium aspiration for almost a week. He also is tongue tied. I successfully weened him off the shield by myself (a little too well… now he won’t take a bottle or a pacifier. Makes date nights inprobable… *pout*)

    I have since nursed him at a major car show, in the church nursery (nursing in the nursery… right on! LOL), in a cemetery (I post on Find A Grave), at a resturant, at a grand opening to a birthing clinic, (attempted) while riding down the road, in a truck stop parking lot, at a neighborhood party (admittedly, I asked the hostess for a private spot, as we’d just met all these folks & I didn’t have a cover. She insisted on lending me a blanket and that I nurse right there. She then made it a point to visit with me.), and many more… I always try to use a cover, mostly because my son is unpredictable and sometimes likes to pull my shirt up. One thing I can say: My hubby has been one of the most supportive people I’ve known. I’m not sure I would’ve made it if not for him. Anywho, my point was, even young guys think it’s awesome. My hubby is about 9 months younger than your oldest (Feb ’80).

    GG… little prince is waking up from his nap!

    September 23, 2011

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Nursing in a room full of people you know « GrudgeMom
  2. Breastfeeding in Public : Mommy News Blog
  3. Tales of life with a girl on the go » Blog Archive » Planes, trains and automobiles - we’ve breastfed in them all
  4. Nursing in Public: A Fresh Perspective on Nurse-In’s | Breastfeeding Moms Unite
  5. MumUnplugged »  Aww, is he sleeping?
  6. Nursing in Public: Chinatown, the Subway, the Vatican, and More « Massachusetts Friends of Midwives Blog
  7. Tiny Grass » Blog Archive » Nursing in Public as an Immigrant
  8. Nursing in Public: To Cover or Not to Cover : Breastfeeding 1-2-3 - Breastfeeding Information, News and Support
  9. Breastfeeding and the summertime | Warm Hearts Happy Family
  10. The Mile High Breastfeeding Club « Reality Rounds
  11. NIP, no tuck - Mama Bear
  12. A Wee NIP In The Park!! | babyready
  13. PEER Counseling is Unparalleled Breastfeeding Support–> Do You Have a Great Story? | StorkStories.....

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