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I will breastfeed anywhere- and I don’t care how it makes you feel.

Welcome to the July 2010 Carnival of Nursing in Public

This post was written for inclusion in the Carnival of Nursing in Public hosted by Dionna and Paige at NursingFreedom.org. All week, July 5-9, we will be featuring articles and posts about nursing in public (“NIP”). See the bottom of this post for more information.

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When Hannah was a baby I covered up when breastfeeding.  I was very young and painfully shy and so afraid to let anyone see I was nursing.  I was so shy that I would go into bathrooms and back bedrooms to avoid being SEEN doing THAT.  When at school I would turn a rocking chair into the corner of the room and stare at the crack in the wall, several times a day, while I nursed my little baby.

With each child I have gotten more bold and brave, and at the same time, more matter-of-fact about the act of breastfeeding my child.  Patrick helped me lose my shyness rather quickly.  He was always so hungry.  I had to nurse him hourly, endlessly, and wherever I went. In very short order those back rooms and bathrooms became mighty inconvenient.

By the time I had Willow I was a staunch supporter of breastfeeding in public.  Because of my husband’s long hours we didn’t get out much- I wasn’t going to spend the few hours a week I was out of house in a public restroom!

And now?

I breastfeed.  Wherever, whenever, and in front of whoever.  I really don’t care what their opinion is.  The truth is, no one has ever given me a hard time about “NIP” (nursing in public).  It’s a good thing- I know- but…  I’ve never gotten to show anyone how well versed in my rights I am.  I guess I’m lucky. Or maybe the fact that I do it coverless, back straight, with a smile on my face (instead of trying to hide what I am doing) sets off a signal: Back off.  She isn’t going to be bullied.

I don’t know.

I don’t understand how it has become such a huge issue.  I mean, it is JUST A BREAST.  A lump of flesh that has a useful purpose.  Get over it.  Your hangups and personal issues are not going to come between me and my hungry baby.

The closest I have come to any altercation was a few weeks ago.  My grandpa was frowning at me whilst I nursed, and when I reached under my shirt to close the clasp on my nursing bra he said “Are you trying to flash us your bra?” To which I replied, “No, but I can if you want me to.”  He hasn’t said a word about my breastfeeding habits since.

In Rhode Island, where I live the right to breastfeed is protected- and I have the following printed on a card I keep in my purse:

R.I. Gen. Laws § 11-45-2 (1998) specifies that indecent exposure-disorderly conduct laws do not apply to breastfeeding in public. (1998 HB 8103, SB 2319; 2008 R.I. Pub Laws, Chap. 183, SB 2616)

R.I. Gen. Laws § 23-13.2-1 (2003) specifies that an employer may provide reasonable unpaid break time each day to an employee who needs to breastfeed or express breast milk for her infant child.  The law requires the department of health to issue periodic reports on breastfeeding rates, complaints received and benefits reported by both working breastfeeding mothers and employers, and provides definitions.  (2003 HB 5507, SB 151; 2008 R.I. Pub. Laws, Chap. 475, HB 7906)

R.I. Gen. Laws § 23-13.5-1 and § 23-13.5-2 (2008)   allow a woman to feed her child by bottle or breast in any place open to the public and would allow her a private cause of action for denial of this right. (2008 R.I. Pub. Laws, Chap. 223 and Chap. 308, HB 7467 and SB 2283)

Do you know your breastfeeding rights?

I google searched and found this website: http://www.ncsl.org/IssuesResearch/Health/BreastfeedingLaws/tabid/14389/Default.aspx and I urge you to look around and find out what your rights are where you live.

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Art by Erika Hastings at http://mudspice.wordpress.com/

Welcome to the Carnival of Nursing in Public

Please join us all week, July 5-9, as we celebrate and support breastfeeding mothers. And visit NursingFreedom.org any time to connect with other breastfeeding supporters, learn more about your legal right to nurse in public, and read (and contribute!) articles about breastfeeding and N.I.P.

Do you support breastfeeding in public? Grab this badge for your blog or website to show your support and encourage others to educate themselves about the benefits of breastfeeding and the rights of breastfeeding mothers and children.

This post is just one of many being featured as part of the Carnival of Nursing in Public. Please visit our other writers each day of the Carnival. Click on the links below to see each day’s posts – new articles will be posted on the following days:

July 5 – Making Breastfeeding the Norm: Creating a Culture of Breastfeeding in a Hyper-Sexualized World

July 6 – Supporting Breastfeeding Mothers: the New, the Experienced, and the Mothers of More Than One Nursing Child

July 7 – Creating a Supportive Network: Your Stories and Celebrations of N.I.P.

July 8 – Breastfeeding: International and Religious Perspectives

July 9 – Your Legal Right to Nurse in Public, and How to Respond to Anyone Who Questions It

13 Responses to I will breastfeed anywhere- and I don’t care how it makes you feel.

  1. I guess I am lucky.. I only covered up when nursing for the first few months. Then, something struck me and one day I just decided not to cover up while at the mall. I was sitting in a booth at the food court.. My spouse and sister were with me, I was totally comfy. Then a guy sat down behind me.. I kept nursing..and he never even knew!! I think that was a turning point for me.

  2. HUGE, HUGE lactivist here!! I never thought I would be, nor did I ever think I would love breastfeeding my children so much. I didn’t know much about nursing or the importance of it until I became pregnant with my first son. I knew it was best for baby and figured I’d “try” it and see what happened. A little research later and I figured I’d go for six months, some more research, a year. More research, support and an absolute adoration for my son and our nursing relationship and I nursed until my milk dried up in my second trimester of my pregnancy with my second son. Connor was 20 months old. If he had asked to nurse again when my milk came back I absolutely would have but he didn’t. I am now happily nursing my second son and will continue to do so until he decides enough is enough. I nurse on demand regardless of where we are or who we are with. I love my booby babies!!

    Soaring Butterfly.

    (When Connor was around 4 months old we went to a nurse in protest at a store that tried to deny a Mom her right to nurse in public. It was very empowering to stand up for our rights but I was heartbroken we had to do it in the first place. One day, I hope that breastfeeding will just be something we do not something to talk about, write about, protest about!! We’ve also been to the breastfeeding challenge and will go again this year although again, I long for a day when raising awareness about the importance of breastfeeding will no longer be necessary.)

    • Great job mama!!!

      I know what you mean- I wish breastfeeding was the norm- not an issue that needs to be discussed, promoted, debated, etc.

      I wish it just was the way things were done.

      <3

  3. I haven’t had anyone give me a hard time about breastfeeding in public either. I have decided that if someone does give me a hard time I will give them a look that says, “You’re pretty stupid.” Hopefully I won’t ever have to do that.

  4. I also NIP wherever and whenever needed. Never nursed in a bathroom and never will. When DS was a newborn I did use a cover for MY comfort. We were just beginning and I didn’t want DS to be distracted.

    In Ohio law states:

    Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 3781.55 (2005) provides that a mother is entitled to breastfeed her baby in any location of a place of public accommodation wherein the mother is otherwise permitted. (SB 41)

    However since it doesn’t include anything about NIP not being public indecency I’m unsure what would happen if someone wanted to push the issue and called the police?

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