There's a local dust up of the old nursing-in-public debate right now. (And I know by posting this link I am Disclosing My Location. Oh well). I have been getting flurries of emails from people crying "nurse in!".
I have no idea about how to organize a nurse-in, and I have doubts about how effective they really are. Yes, we could go hang out on a sidewalk with beach chairs and nurse our kids. That's great if you have a child that's not yet old enough to run into the street. But unless there was significant news coverage it would only annoy a few people, and it wouldn't change a damn thing. I think the most important breastfeeding advocacy you can do is to just do it. Hold your head up high and nurse that baby (or child) wherever you want. The more people are exposed to nursing as a "normal" activity, the less they will be weirded out by it.
I never thought I would be such a public nurser. I wasn't so worried about showing my breasts, because very little really shows anyway. I have to admit I'm much more self-concious about my flabby stomach. The first time I nursed Naomi in public was when she was 3 weeks old. After that, I was amazed at how quickly and completely the cultural hang-ups about the purpose of breasts faded away. It's hard sometimes to remember that I once was offended and disgusted when someone nursed a baby in public. That viewpoint seems so ridiculous to me now. Sometimes I forget that it was me that changed; the world is still the same.
Naomi doens't ask to nurse in public anymore. I miss it. I felt like I was doing everyone I came in contact with a favor by showing them that living does not have to stop just because your baby is hungry. You don't have to run off and hide, you don't even have to interrupt what you're doing.
I've never had to defend my nursing in public, despite the fact that I can't think of a place or situation where I haven't done it at one time or another. I never batted an eyelash when it was time to nurse. I just carried on doing whatever I was doing, whether it was trying on shoes or depositing a check at the bank. I nursed this way until last summer, when Naomi was 21 months old, when I started phasing the sling out of daily use. If someone gave me a dirty look or said something snide under their breath, I never noticed. It was so second nature to me that if someone said "you shouldn't be doing that here" I probably would have responded with "doing what?"
God help the first person who tells me to my face that I should feed my child in the same place where they wipe their ass. Not only do I have polite little cards detailing the city ordinance protecting the rights of breastfeeding mothers and babies, I have a while lot of rude things that will come flying out of my mouth. I have been poised for this battle for too long.