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Nursing in Public: Paige's Story
Nursing in the Store

Paige Silcox
Nashville, TN, USA
From: New Beginnings, Vol. 29 No. 4, 2009, p. 14

One afternoon a few months ago, I went grocery shopping after picking the children up from daycare. I should have known better than to try to get this done before feeding my baby because he always wants to nurse as soon as he sees me when I fetch him after work, but I was trying to hurry. I was wearing him in a mei tai sling and he was getting more and more fussy with the milk so close and yet so far away.

Finally I stopped in the aisle and tried surreptitiously to adjust my shirts so I could latch him on and nurse while I shopped. This was a difficult endeavor and, as I was struggling to get my top shirt up and keep my bottom shirt down, an older lady wandered by and said, "Oh, he's hungry!" I politely gritted my teeth and said, "Yes, he sure is." Having had a few less-than-friendly experiences with the older generation when nursing in public, I waited for her to walk on before I finally got him latched and he quieted down -- though not for long. I got down one aisle and started on the next, when he decided he had a problem with my right breast that day, pulled off, and started fussing again.

I was trying to cover my right breast and get him latched on to the left when the lady wandered by again. I stopped for a moment to let her pass because I knew when I latched him on I was going to be flashing a bit of breast. I totally misjudged her, though. She apparently knew exactly what I was trying to do and she stopped and said, "Don't worry about me darlin', just feed him!"

Somehow standing there next to a lady who looked like my grandmother and who clearly approved of what I was doing gave me more courage to do what I needed to do and not worry about who was looking. I got him latched on to my breast and he nursed happily. She said, "Now that's better!" and went on her way. I ran into her again at the other end of the store, by which time my little man was snoozing on my chest, and she commented on how happy he looked and how neat "that contraption" was that I was carrying him in.

I learned a lesson that day about not anticipating other people's reactions. It makes nursing so much easier when you can behave as if what you are doing is perfectly normal -- which, of course, it is -- and socially acceptable -- which indeed it should be.

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