by Nicole Buratti, HBCE, CLD, CCBE, RPYT, RYT
Nope, it has nothing to do with wardrobe malfunctions, Katie Perry, or nursing positions such as the football hold. It has nothing to do with the Super Bowl welcoming breastfeeding mothers into their private Super Bowl Lactation Space sponsored by the Indiana Perinatal Network.
Nope…. Give up?
It’s what guys talk about at business lunches! Of course, silly!
A few weeks ago, my husband Joe and I were eating lunch at our favorite spot in Red Bank. I know it’s not nice to eavesdrop on another table’s conversation but anything to do with pregnancy, birth, and of course breastfeeding is going to catch my attention, especially when these topics are discussed by guys.
The table next to ours was packed with six hungry business men. After they ordered their Pho (vietnamese noodles and soups) and summer rolls, one of the men asked the new dad at the table how it was going at home with the new baby. He said it was going really well and that breastfeeding was great except that his mother who was staying with them to help would give his wife the evil eye everytime she nursed the baby. Of course, I had a hard time sitting still at this point.
The men around the table must have sensed my telepathic communications being sent like spidey senses to their table. All the guys around the table gave the new dad a little pep talk about their experiences with their wives or girlfriend’s breastfeeding. One suggested putting her up in a hotel. Another said, “Dude, she doesn’t like it… she can leave! Your little guy’s gotta eat!”.
The topic soon changed to “Hey how ’bout that Super Bowl?” A few of them already knew back then that it would come down to Seattle and New England. They were back to high-fiving and back slapping in no time.
My 5 cents on how to handle those who give you the evil eye when you nurse your baby:
1. Share with your parents and your partner’s parents (and any other loved ones), Penny Simpkin’s “Letter to Grandparents.” It’s beautifully written and very gentle. Tell them I sent it.
2. In an article on Breastfeeding in Public, Peggy O’Mara is quoted, “If you encounter any curious or hostile stares, smile benignly back, knowing that you are contributing to the health of the next generation, and that you are setting a beautiful example for other women, young girls, and expectant fathers.”
3. The breast may be exposed during the brief moment it takes for your little one to latch on. This is more likely to happen with young babies than with experienced nursers. You can turn your back to the rest of the room while you get him started, or briefly go into another room and return once baby is latched on and blankets and clothing are discreetly arranged. Or drape a blanket over your breast, arm, and baby during latch-on.
4. A woman’s right to breastfeed in public is protected by law in New Jersey and many states. Perceptions are changing, as people become educated about the health benefits of breastfeeding. With continued awareness, perhaps breastfeeding in public will become as accepted as smoking in public is now frowned upon.
5. Host a Nurse-in. You can even do this in your own home. Invite your friends, sisters, cousins, and everyone you know who is nursing to come hang out with you and your lil’ one at your place. You mother-in-law will never again make the evil eye as you nurse her grandchild.
Kudos to the dads, partners, and family members who do support you and your baby on your Breastfeeding journey!! While there are some who are still uncomfortable with breastfeeding in public and breastfeeding in general, we HAVE come a long way, baby! Keep up the good work, Dads and buddies!