This is a tricky subject, but one worth addressing. With my recent post about Kourtney Kardashian weaning and subsequent comments (plus the fact that it’s been on my mind with Peanut now two), I figured that I may have some information to share regarding the subject. I have managed to make it 2 years without any real negative comments about breastfeeding. I am constantly surprised that one fellow mom’s mother/mother-in-law/grandma/pediatrician tells her to stop. I am baffled by the stories of moms who are told to leave Target, Ikea, or swimming pools because they’re nursing. I am thankful every day that I haven’t had to be in one of those situations.
I know a lot of it has to do with luck. Yes, I am lucky for not being confronted about nursing Peanut. I am lucky that people around me are at least tolerant of breastfeeding. I am lucky that I haven’t been around the wrong stranger at the wrong time. Beyond that though, I believe there are some things that help you to avoid getting harassed for doing such a beautiful thing.
1. Get educated. As I’ve said many times on here, I am not a very verbal person. I think I feel the need to keep repeating myself because I am such a blab online, but if you’ve ever met me in person I think you know how little I actually speak up. Even in a one-on-one conversation, I am the person who often forgets words I’m trying to speak of, gets nervous and starts to do things like stutter, and even just avoid the conversation in general (watching a toddler is a useful way to do this). If you’re one of the people that hasn’t noticed this about me, you’re either one of the few that I don’t feel uncomfortable speaking around or you’ve caught me on a subject I have knowledge about.
That’s it, knowledge. Having actual facts ready and at your disposal helps immensely when dealing with a verbal opponent. If you walked up to me and started arguing with me about coffee beans that are destroying the rain forest, I would likely have some opinions about it, but not be able to back them up. This goes for even things that you feel so strongly for, but you don’t have the facts. So do yourself a favor and come up with at least one argument against any and all things people may say to you against breastfeeding. If someone were to tell me that nursing my toddler didn’t provide any nutrition, I would tell them that even if it didn’t, it would still provide immunities. If someone were to tell me that nursing my toddler will stunt her emotional growth, I would tell them that studies actually show that babies and toddlers who are securely attached are more likely to show independence later in life. I have little “comebacks” prepared for every reason someone could possibly come up with for telling me I shouldn’t nurse my toddler. Beyond these comebacks, I don’t really know where I’d go, but hopefully I never have to get that far. Which brings me to my second point.
2. Act more confident than you are. I’m sure it works to my benefit that I have this blog. I think most people who know me also know about it (and a few even read it! Ohaithar!). I don’t know if having the blog makes people understand I’m serious about this stuff or if they just don’t want me to talk bad about them on it. :-P You don’t have to have a blog about breastfeeding to avoid being hassled though. Just make your opinion known. I’m not talking about going around screaming “I breastfeed my child and you better not talk crap on it!!!!” There are simplier ways to make your opinions known. Being myself, if a conversations steers anywhere near breastfeeding, I tend to start awkwardly spouting facts about how great it is (I didn’t learn all these facts for nothing!). Simply making it clear that you’re not budging on your opinion may even help the “helpful” mother/mother-in-law/grandma/pediatrician/etc. understand that they can’t “help” you.
3. Expect the worst. Quite pessimistic, eh? Not really. I don’t sit around dwelling on the fact that I may be confronted, but I just let it cross my mind. It’s a fact. As I adjust myself for Peanut to latch on while we’re sitting in the rec center watching Daddy play basketball or she’s cranky at the store or she hurt herself or any other reason a toddler may suddenly decide that she needs milk right now, I acknowledge the fact that I could be confronted right then and there. Sometimes I think about the laws of my state regarding breastfeeding in public. Sometimes I just remember a couple of the facts that I know. Sometimes I do nothing at all beyond being aware.
It seems like most moms who are confronted about nursing in public by a stranger are taken aback. If you’re not prepared for “the attack”, you won’t ever see it coming. You’ll be bamboozled and even the biggest breastfeeding advocate may find herself at a loss for words. So just know that it could happen to you at any time. It doesn’t matter if you’re nursing a newborn or a 4 year old. It doesn’t matter if you’re using a cover or not. You could get some snarky comment from an idiot who thinks they know more than you, so be prepared to show them how much of an idiot they really are.
Have you been confronted when nursing in public? Have you dealt with “well-meaning” (or possibly not even attempting to be “well-meaning”) family telling you it’s wrong to nurse? How have you handled situations of being confronted? Do you think any of these things help to avoid getting confronted or am I just a very lucky Mama playing Russian Roulette?