Sunday, July 4, 2010

Nursing 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.


Our first child, our unexpected son, was born only 1.7kgs (3lbs 12oz) while I was unconscious.  Instead of being introduced, he lay in an incubator under Daddy's hands while I was treated with increasingly painful measures to stop my haemorrhage.  While my life was saved with drugs and transfusions, my sister singlehandedly prevented the routine formula feeding of our tiny boy.  She quoted to the special care department the WHO recommendations for supplementation when mother's milk is not available...and did not back down.
  • In fact, it is standard hospital policy to formula feed babies who are small (so they can gain chart weight) and babies who are big (because mum couldn't possibly produce enough milk for a big appetite).  A friend of mine with a large baby was told she would need to supplement before she had recovered from her epidural!

During our stay in special care, Alex and I were on a frequent feeding schedule and I pumped after each feed.  I was just able to supply the tube-feeding supplement schedule the hospital prescribed - they were clearly so reluctant to use the donor milk available.  Alex was judged by staff to be feeding very well, when in fact he was too weak yet to do it properly.  We learned by ourselves at home instead.

I nursed Alex on cue, round the clock, while in an as yet unrecognised state of post traumatic stress disorder from his birth.  If I couldn't nurse him in public, I couldn't have left the house.  I nursed him above 2 kgs, and 3 kgs (a normal birth weight), and exclusively until about 7 months.  I nursed him past 1 year, and 2 years, and sometimes painfully through my second pregnancy.  And we all learned a new relationship when Nadia joined us.
  • It's my right to feed my babies in public. I've earned it. 
  • It's my duty to feed my babies in public, so other children won't grow up as I did, with no memories of seeing a baby at a mother's breast. 
  • It's my pleasure to feed my babies in public, to show that a good baby is one who trusts her mother will respond to her needs, not one who has given up asking for a response.
  • It is my habit to feed my babies in public without even stopping my conversations, and I hope that my nonchalance will be contagious.
I am still tandem feeding both Alex and Nadia.  I appeared on a local documentary for this rarity, and felt quite badly represented, but couldn't pass up the chance to explain the breastfeeding continuum from newborn onward - and why there is sometimes no good reason to stop.   


I feed 2 year old Nadia only in friendly places, and the only friendly place to feed my 5 year old (18kg) Alex is at home.  Because we still have a long way to go, baby....

Art by Erika Hastings at

Welcome 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.

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


  1. That is one adorable picture, he's so tiny!!!!!!! Wow your sister did a great job taking a stand for you when you were not able.

    Indiana was given a small amount of donated milk at the hospital, I told them I would not give her formula. Those 3 days in the hospital were awful :/

    I've been thinking of stopping to breast feed.. Indiana is now 1 year 7 months.. but feel a bit reluctant still. Actually she suffers from bad constipation (and believe me we have tried all non-conventional methods and the only thing that prevents it from getting disastrous is lactulose in large amounts..) that started at 6 months when she started eating other food besides breast milk . I'm afraid stopping to bf completely will make it worse. We are waiting to get her properly examined at a children's hospital to see if there is a medical/physiological condition that would need attention. So I guess I'm continuing for a while longer, though I can't see going past 2 years..

    I have always bf:d in public and still do when Indiana really wants to and I'm not able to distract her with something else. I do try to bf somewhat discreetly :) But what are you going to do, not move from your home for months/years? Feed your child in restrooms? Sorry, but toilet is not a place where anyone should have to eat their meals.
    Hardly anyone nurses this long, people consider one year a long time. Still, WHO recommendation is to nurse until 2 years :D

  2. to show that a good baby is one who trusts her mother will respond to her needs, not one who has given up asking for a response.

    I love this! Absolutely spot on!

  3. Love this story - thank you for empowering other women to nurse their children whenever and wherever they are!

    Dionna @ Code Name: Mama

  4. I find it still really hard to read stories of babies in the NICU, but I am glad I pushed myself through. Hugs to you from a fellow Preemie mother.

    With my understanding and experience with NICU and hospitals I know how hard it is to fight for your right to nurse (or hold) your own baby.

    I am so glad you had your sister with you to fight for you and your baby when you were unable too. The world needs more like her, not only in the average society but in the medical society as well.

    Spending 2 weeks in the NICU, I would see the mothers come in and wanting to nurse only to see them leave feeling like they failed. My heart breaks.

    It's stories like this, that needs to be told why nursing matters, why it's so important, why it needs to be valued. Just like your job would be valued. It the same thing.

  5. Amazing! Thank you for your dedication to your children! I, too, am an extended nurser, although the longest I've nursed so far is my oldest was 3.5 when she weaned during my third pregnancy. My youngest is now 2 years 8 months and still going strong. I decided a long time ago to just nurse them whenever and where ever and it was something that I sometimes struggled with in my own mind.

  6. Thanks everybody! Cats Meow, your comment (and mine) has gone and I didn't do it - I wanted to respond :-(

  7. Beautiful post. Yes, it is our right, our duty, and hopefully our pleasure and habit.

  8. Thank you for sharing your story. I agree that it is so important for people to see babies nursing in public for so many reasons. My tandem nurslings recently weaned themselves (in April and May), and I miss having that connection with them. It sounds like you are enjoying the time and providing others with a great role model!

  9. Jess, you will laugh. When the girl was first born, I was so shy that I covered up when the doctors and nurses came into her hospital room. Little by little I nursed her in front of friends and family, then finally everyone. Since then I've nursed her in the mall, at two weddings and one funeral, while interviewing house moving company reps, and even next to a boys' rugby team while riding on the ferry. I've nursed her in bookshops, restaurants, parks, and at the dentists's office. I don't enjoy breastfeeding but I feel great about doing what is best for her health.

  10. Hi Trina,

    It's lovely to hear how you've grown away from being self-conscious about BF in public.

    You can be very proud!