From the Bedroom to the Board Room: How I Learned to Nurse in Public

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 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.


The first time I nursed in public, I was at a La Leche League meeting. What a perfect way to be initiated to nursing around other people.

Breastfeeding is such a personal act at the beginning, an intimate dance between the baby and the mother that begins at the moment of birth. Slowly (sometimes excruciatingly slowly), they find a rhythm, and open up a little to the outside world. Rituals and routines established in the early days !! I sit on this area of the couch with these pillows, and look for the feeding cues, and get the latch just right !! give way to a looser, more organic relationship. When the universe widens just a bit, other breastfeeding moms are the perfect guests to invite in. When I give breastfeeding mothers advice, I almost always say, "Find a group of breastfeeding moms to socialize with in the first few weeks, and nurse around each other."

When my baby was just two months old, I went to my first Lamaze conference. I nursed in educational sessions and the exhibit hall and around the hotel during breaks. I shared a hotel room with women who were well past their childbearing years, and yet welcomed having a baby at the slumber party (and no, my baby most definitely was not "sleeping through the night"). Then I had to report briefly to the Board of Directors about a project I was working on, and I breast fed my baby at the board room table. While I presented to the Board members.

I look back on this time now and I realize how fortunate I was. My earliest experiences of opening my baby's and my universe to others reinforced that nursing is normal, joyful, and important. In a way, it was totally unremarkable to nurse my baby while addressing my supervisor and her Board of Directors. But at the same time, it was something to be celebrated. The people at the table weren't weirded out that I was breastfeeding. They loved it - reveled in it. We even talked about how it is important to have babies at our conferences. Our work affects them!

My son weaned 4 months ago, ending what had been six and a half years of continuously being either pregnant or nursing. I have nursed in more places than I could begin to count. Wherever I've been when my babies happened to become hungry, I've nursed.

Only once - ever - did I get a negative remark. I was sitting in a coffee shop nursing my then-18-month-old son, and a 20-something year old guy behind me said to his friend, "You know what I hate? Babies who breastfeed." I saw his comment for what it was - ignorance mixed with "I'm-an-'ironic'-hipster-trying-to-impress-my-friend". But I can imagine a new mom hearing that and feeling like an outcast. I was so thankful to have such confidence that his comment didn't faze me at all. I mostly just felt sad for him.

Thank you to all of those La Leche League moms for instilling in me that early confidence. And thank you to all of the Lamaze leaders with whom I was so incredibly fortunate to share my early mothering. What a gift.


Art by Erika Hastings at to the Carnival of Nursing in Public

Please join us all week, July 5-9, as we celebrate and support breastfeeding mothers. And visit 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.

<a href="" mce_href="" title="Carnival of Nursing in Public"><img src=""mce_src="" alt="Art by Erika Hastings at" border="0"></a>

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

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