Salt Lake City Based Photographer Timbra Wiist owns/operates Landslide Photography & Photographs the Journey of Motherhood (see bottom of page or sidebar for more info. . .depending on what this blog is choosing to do for the day).

Monday, July 16, 2012

First Nursing In Public Experience

This post was written as part of The Breastfeeding Cafe's Blog Carnival. For more info on the Breastfeeding Cafe, go to For more info on the Carnival or if you want to participate, contact Timbra Wiist landslidephotography {at} hotmail {dot} com. Today's post is about Nursing in Public. Please read the other blogs in today's carnival listed in the comments section at for today's guest blogger on the Breastfeeding Cafe site The Carnival runs July 16th through the 31st!


What was your first nursing in public experience? How did this shape your view of breastfeeding and your breastfeeding relationship with your child? Did your mother or grandmother have the same types of experiences?

I scarce remember my first nursing in public. . . what does one consider public? I nursed in front of my parents when my daughter was hours old. I don't think anyone in my family wondered if nursing was the thing that would happen. There was no question, no concern, no condemnation, not any praise either. . .it just WAS (the real questioning came in to play when it became a matter of how LONG would I breastfeed).

I nursed in front of friends who came to visit and see my new baby, in front of my in-laws too, and for them this was not the way they'd raised their babies, but we'd lived with my husband's parents for 8 weeks while I was pregnant and I'd discussed such things with my mother-in-law. In fact, it was interesting to live with her during that time and for her to have opportunity to share her own pregnancy and birth stories with me. . .when a new little life is on its way, doors of healing or talking are opened to those around.

I lived in a culture where nursing was completely accepted. Where my husband walked home one day and say an older toddler standing and nursing, while his mother sat on the sea wall. . .that shocked him a bit, news of it shocked me a bit. . .we knew we'd NEVER do that. . .toddler nursing was only on my radar because we'd watched a Desparate Housewives episode once, where a woman was nursing a toddler and others tried to "help" wean him by giving him chocolate milk. It was funny on the show, it was shocking in person:)

When my daughter was 7 days old, we walked her into town, in her little stroller/carseat combo, proudly heading off to show her to the hotel staff, where my parents had stayed for a week prior to her arrival, where everyone knew that we were awaiting a baby, as I waddled in and hung out in the pool every day with my ginormous belly. . .as we headed home, she got hungry. I was ill prepared. As we passed the park which marked the beginning of the final stretch to our house, I happened upon a friend with several other female friends, and they ogled over my baby, then they offered to let me stop, sit with them and nurse her. . .I declined the offer. WHY? I don't know. . .I had a seven day old baby, who was hungry and crying and we lived in a hot, humid country, we had a walk ahead of us and I just wanted to get there, let myself hang out (literally), I knew there would be leaking and gulping.

After another 1/2 mile or more, when we finally reached home, mom having carried baby the entire way and dad pushing the beautiful and senseless stroller, realizing that a 7lb baby can feel like a ton of bricks after carrying her for a 1/2 mile, I questioned my sensibilities. . .I wished the opportunity had been given again, with a bolder mother who sat and nursed amongst other beautiful women. . . but that was not to be my first nursing in public experience.

Another few weeks and we would go to church with her, where I would sit out on the front porch to nurse her. . .mostly because it was still clumsy. But just three or four weeks in, when I began wearing her everywhere, I felt so very sneaky being able to nurse that little monkey everywhere I went. I would nurse her on walks, in the market, in front of friends. . .it was fabulous!

As with my birth story, I believe that living in a culture where breastfeeding was completely normal, where it was viewed and accepted at every turn, nursing in public was not even a part of my thought process. I didn't realize nursing in public was such a hot topic, until much later. Nursing in Public was mostly about my own hang-ups. It was about later feeling self conscious in front of family members (the one year mark) or in public (by 15 months) but then finding myself as a mother and throwing caution to the wind, probably being more bold about nursing an 18 month old, then I was about nursing a 15 month old, in public. And it was about finding the right attire! I'm not sure why a two tank top or use of belly bands system didn't come into play until my second daughter came along. . .

I remember fondly being at an LLL meeting and my (not then) best friend, Renee, saying "I don't care if people see my boobs, it's my stretched out stomach I don't want them to see." I realized then that it was similar for me. . .I wasn't showing anything more while nursing than I was in an average shirt most days, but I didn't like having to lift my shirt and show off my stomach :) So the second time around, a second tank top or belly band worked wonders. . .as did three years of experience!

I will always be thankful to the women I was around, purposely, or just because of my geography, when my first daughter was born, which made me completely oblivious to the whole concept that breastfeeding was something that should be hidden. I want my daughters to be confident women with healthy self images and I believe that being willing to nurse them at the times when they needed to nurse, despite WHERE that was, has helped to support those values.

As you'll read in a later post, my mother says that she had other breastfeeding friends, they mostly hung out in one another's homes, but no one ever really made her feel uncomfortable about nursing her babies because "everyone was doing it."

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