Having breastfed four children, you probably won’t believe this. But I still get a little anxiety breastfeeding in public. That moment when I notice Koehn getting fussy while I’m strolling through the dollar bins at Target almost always makes me sweat. Especially now since he is older and hates being covered. But why do I even have to put a blanket over him? Breastfeeding is hard enough without having to feel bad for doing it.
Though I’m not ashamed of breastfeeding and actually find it quite empowering, there’s always these few seconds where I feel butterflies in my stomach whenever I’m in public. Over the years, I’ve had quite a few bad experiences. I’ve had women tell me I’m trying to seduce their husbands (in so many words) and I need to put my breasts away. Men have come up to me and asked why I’m not in the bathroom like I should be (major eye roll). I’ve even had other mothers say I just wanted attention. I mean the list can go on and on. I’d almost relate it to some sort of traumatic stress disorder, or breastfeeding anxiety. Is that a thing?
Each and every time my baby starts to suck his little fingers or fidget around all those past encounters come rushing back to me and my heart starts racing. I frantically root around in the diaper bag praying I didn’t forget a blanket. Because, ya know, God forbid I have to show some skin. All while trying to calm my son who only wants to eat. A basic human necessity. To think we live in a society were feeding your child is frowned upon. Am I the only one who feels anxiety when breastfeeding?
At times it seems like things are getting better. Women are fighting to normalize breastfeeding and it’s becoming more and more commonplace. I mean, they made a hashtag for it, so it must be legit, right? Just this past weekend, an older lady came up to me and told me how proud she was of me. I had him covered up as I was sitting in one of those display rocking chairs at Target (my second home really) and mentioned I shouldn’t feel the need to cover up. She said I was only doing what was natural. She made my heart smile and for that brief moment my breastfeeding anxiety surpassed.
Living in California has made it a little easier to breastfeed in public, and although most times I won’t leave the house without a blanket of some kind in my purse (that’s mostly due to my insecurities about my stomach nowadays) I’ve had moments where I’ve breastfed in public and was proud. I felt like I accomplished something huge that day. Not just for myself but for other moms, or mommas to be, who may have seen me. Maybe it gives them the courage they need to try it. Or maybe it made them proud to see another momma on her breastfeeding journey. Who knows. As moms we should try to stick together. Even if what I’m doing isn’t exactly what you would do. No need to bash me. I’m just trying to feed my hungry baby. Who doesn’t care if we’re at home in bed or at a restaurant ordering food.