Tuesday, September 7, 2010

My Biggest Public Nursing Concern: What about the children!?!?

So you know how I'm all "I can feed anywhere, hooter hiders be damned, watch me whip it out, don't you tell me to cover up or go somewhere else I am woman hear me lactate?"

Yeah, we're about to hit a potential roadblock. Whether it is real or imagined, I'm still unsure.

Y&G meetings start up again this week.  I'm as committed as ever to this program and I like the idea of raising Fidg in a volunteer enviornoment where she learns its normal to devote unpaid time to something she enjoys and that benefits the public good.  My parents did that with me and I see it as a fundamental responsibility of mine in Fidg's upbringing.

But these meetings happen in the evening. That's when certain small people like to nurse and relax leading up to bedtime.  Maybe she'll be fine during the meetings and won't want to eat because there's so much to look at and listen to.  I can't leave her at home with dad because (aside from dad also being a volunteer) I'm sure she'd expect food there and there wouldn't be any. That's not a situation dad enjoys.  Or the kid.

But what if she wants to eat?
I'm hoping this is an imagined problem - like public nursing has been generally for me since Fidg's birth.  No one has given (or I haven't noticed) me the stink eye yet.  But when you read anecdotes of mothers asked to move when nursing, the location from which they are asked to move is very frequently one in which children are present (public pool, public school, etc) based on a "what about the children" philosophy. 

Let's leave aside the internal conflict of that statement and just focus on the very real possibility that a parent - or the program - might have a problem with an advisor flashing even momentary boob in a room full of minors.

Hooter hider?  Maybe - except a) it draws far, far more attention to what I'm doing and b) the kid can easily bat that bad boy away now.  You try eating dinner under a sheet and see how comfortable it is.

I'm highly, highly sensitive to issues of  . . . how to classify it . . . I can't believe I'm going to say sexual abuse like observing breastfeeding is tantamount to sexual abuse, but, well, yeah, issues of sexually inapporpriate conduct and minor children.  Obviously, nursing is not abuse and observing nursing is not abuse and it only raises eyebrows because no one does it.

So what do I do?  Hope she's not hungry? If she is, sneak around the corner and yell instructions at my delegates in these early weeks until they are fully leading their meetings or in answer to any of their questions?  Make Rob be the lead advisor? (That has potential ;)  Look at it as a teachable moment?  Send a letter to parents advising them that this is going on and to approach me with any concerns?

That I look at this as a potential problem only perpetuates it being a problem at all. 

Vicious circle.


  1. I think you may have to endure some embarassed giggles for the first couple of times, but eventually I'm sure they'll get over it. It's the parents that I worry about; people can get freaky over these sorts of things.

  2. If you feed her at the meetings, perhaps you will increase attendance, at least among the boys!

  3. It's the parents I worry about as well.

    We do need more boys in the program . . . .

  4. Teachable moment!!! Seriously. You have a small group of kids that know you well. I would address it to them. I mean, heck, you are doing YIG and sadly this turns into legal issues from time to time. Work your magic, woman.

    But as much as I would like to say "screw it all...you have the right to BF anywhere" knowing how it is working with HS kids, it would likely be a good idea to mention it to the parents. After the first session or two, no one will even notice.

    And there is a good chance that you may convert some future mamas and papas into babywearing, breastfeeding gurus! Which I am pretty sure will earn you an orange cadillac. Cuz orange is the new pink.

  5. Well, I will have a small group of kids, but not ones I know well yet since it will be mostly a new group. I'm hoping that as we get going in the program year and I don't need to be involved in the meetings as much (I really shouldn't be at all since it's their gig), I can sit in the corner and keep the kiddo happy. It's horribly timed for her, unfortunately.