Despite the fact that the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends breast-feeding for at least 2 years, in North America we tend to average 6 months total. Now that Poppet is 18 months old, we have entered what is known as “extended” breast-feeding, or as many other Mums know, the “when are you going to stop breastfeeding that kid?!?!” look from strangers.
On a recent trip Poppet was exhausted. I had to run into Walmart while Hubby went to pick up some groceries for our hotel room. I was desperate to soothe her and the best way is nursing. I headed to the washroom (which I hate nursing in, because how many of us eat our meals in close proximity to toilets?), but I also don’t want to make other uncomfortable by nursing a toddler in public unless it is a necessity (also don’t feel like exposing myself if public as said toddler is squirmy and not fond of being under a nursing cover any more).
I pulled down the change table, set her upon it and Poppet happily nursed away. Then it happened.
In walked a middle age woman with her daughter and son (who had to be around 8 years old). She stopped dead, looked horrified, got her son some toilet paper, still looking horrified, waited for him to blow his nose and hurriedly left. I, not really wanting to show my breast to an 8-year-old boy, tried to cover up as quickly as I could, dropped a toy, and her lovely young teen-age daughter picked it up and started a little conversation with me. Her mother still looked on horrified. I wished the floor could open up and swallow me whole.
I think what bothered me so much was the fact that I had gone out of my way to make sure I was being discreet. I fully believe in a woman’s right to breast-feed her baby as needed, but I am sympathetic to other’s feelings. I was left to feel like I was doing something wrong, when in fact it was she who walked into a woman’s washroom with a growing boy. The look I received hurt, and I can only imagine it will be the first of many as Poppet continues to grow, but it is a price I am willing to take to provide the best start in life for my daughter.
I would love to hear your opinions on nursing (positive or otherwise) and your own experiences on nursing (from babyhood to extended). Comments are open as always!