My son is now six months old and in the last six months I have breastfed in a lot of places. Breastfeeding in public is one of those things that most people don’t think about until they have a child or come across a mother breastfeeding at, say Chipotle. And usually that’s when people decide it’s okay or it’s awful. But before you make an assumptions, I want to explain why I choose to breastfeed in public.
You should first of all know that it’s not because I want anyone to see my breasts. They’re large and real and nothing like what you’ll see on-line or in a magazine. And, honestly, after thinking of them as a food source for the last six months, I have trouble remembering that it’s a body part that people like to look at. I don’t much fancy checking out a cow’s udders or a dog’s teats either.
I breastfeed in public because I was determined to incorporate my child into my life rather than letting my child own my life. I love my son and I would do pretty much anything for him, but I don’t think it does either of us any good to hide away all the time. So we go out. To restaurants, stores, church services, public meetings, movies, and he’s even been to a stage production. There are obviously times I have chosen not to go somewhere because I didn’t feel like it was a kid-friendly place. But I also sometimes redefine the places that are kid-friendly.
Also, babies get hungry A LOT. And sometimes they want to nurse for reasons outside of hunger. They’re scared or cold or uncomfortable or upset or in pain and nursing makes them feel better. And I’m of the belief that my nursing my son is a lot more enjoyable for fellow patrons than hearing him scream.
One last thing: it’s not really fun for me to breastfeed in public. Because I’m busty it can be really tricky trying to get it ready without showing everything off to everyone in the room. It can be uncomfortable. At home, I have a nursing pillow and a rocker or a couch. At a restaurant I’m usually supporting all of his body weight and I’m hunched over him. And then there’s the dilemma of whether or not I should cover him while he nurses and am I offending anyone and what do I do if he rips the cover off. It can be a stressful event. For me. He’s just blissfully eating away.
So today I met my husband at Chipotle for lunch. I generally don’t love going to places as crowded as Chipotle at lunch time, but they’re running a promotion and we wanted to get free Chipotle. My son was napping when we left and he woke up after we arrived and was, of course, starving. Sadly he hasn’t yet graduated to having burritos for lunch, so I nursed him. Again, the toss up between Nursing Baby versus Screaming Baby.
My husband headed back to work, so it was just the two of us. Him nursing and me people watching. And, I sort of have to give props to the diners. There were all kinds – business men and women, hipsters, tech guys, families, folks of all ages – and I didn’t get one dirty look. And I actually only got a few scared, swiftly moving eyes. In general, people seemed unfazed by this nursing Momma. As I sat there I wondered if Chipotle had any type of policy on breastfeeding, but couldn’t find anything on-line. Most states protect breastfeeding Moms. (Find out about your state here.)
I will say, for the record, that nursing in the booth was fairly uncomfortable. And if you have a child that is easily distracted, it can be a little bit over-stimulating. But for my son, the hum of noise that you find in a busy restaurant was soothing. And he nursed himself right back to sleep. I then quietly slipped him back into his bucket carseat and finished my lunch.
So, if you’re looking for a place to lunch with your breastfed baby, you might want to give Chipotle a shot.