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« Fireworks (Without the Fireworks) | Main | Small Style, Swiss Style »

Public Boobies (I hate them)

I’m going to say something a little controversial here: I hate breastfeeding in public. There, I said it. But let me back up a bit. I hate public nursing as a thing I have to do. I fully support other people and their public boobies.

I love breastfeeding in general. It is natural, and healthy, and bla bla benefits for the baby bla. Stella is 14months old, and still nursing like a champ. But I really love breastfeeding because IT ISFREEEEEEEEEEE! And I’m loath to spend money on something (i.e. formula) when there is a better, cheaper (freer) option. Second reason I love breastfeeding: it is the lazyman’s way. Wash bottles and mix formula? Punch me in the throat because I’d like that better. Third reason I like breastfeeding: I eat like a hungry trucker man, and still don’t gain weight. And now that I’m back in Japan where snack options are few and less delicious (oh, falafel chips...*sigh*), I’m actually having trouble maintaining my weight. You can hate me. It is okay.

But still. I hate breastfeeding in public. Not because I think that it is gross, or sexual or anything weird. I mean, since having a child, my shame-o-meter is pretty much set to zero. It is just that stories like this have me convinced that when I do nurse my baby in public everyone is looking at me, and thinking boobies, gross. 

Wut. That's the best I got. 'Memeber how I don't like doing it in public?

The fact that I live in Japan (which is admittedly pretty breastfeeding friendly), and am a tall white woman who already attracts enough negative bumbling foreigner attention, compounds the anxiety (as in, what is normal practice re. boobies in Japan? Will I be that weird foreigner if I nurse here? OMG, crying baby....what do I dooooooo?) Still, I nurse in public. Because what else could I do? I like to leave my house. My daughter wants to nurse ALL THE TIME, so. I nurse in public. Let me count the ways:


  • On the airplane (it’s pretty much boob in mouth about 70 percent of the seated time)

  • In the car while moving with the baby still strapped safely in her car seat. (I am also a contortionist, in case you didn’t know)

  • On a train

  • In a boat. While driving. In torrential rain

  • In many a restaurant, where I may or may not have dropped ramen on my girl’s head

  • In the middle of my german lesson, about a million times

  • Walking down the street, baby in mei tai

  • In the park with a seven-day-old baby (this particular nursing session was interrupted by two Japanese grandmothers who walked right over to me, lifted my nursing cover so that they could more easily admire the cuteness that is a foreign baby. That was not awkward AT ALL)

So, yes, I hate nursing in public. But I do it any way. Because the benefits outweigh my anxiety. And, truth be told, the worst thing that has ever happened re. feeding in public has been an awkward “avert eyes...boobies...omg..don’t look!) More often people smile kindly. And I’m glad of that, for it means that acceptance of public boobies is the norm and public-nursing-phobic a-holes are the exception.  






I’m celebrating World Breastfeeding Week with Natural Parents Network!

You can, too — link up your breastfeeding posts from August 1-7 in the linky below, and enjoy reading, commenting on, and sharing the posts collected here and on Natural Parents Network.

(Visit NPN for the code to place on your blog.)


Reader Comments (9)

this sounds like me except that I have no problem at all to breastfeed in public.there is not much to see anyway :)Have a great week end!
August 6, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterpeggy
I can't remember how I found your blog, but one of the first posts I read was about you breastfeeding your child to sleep standing up while driving a boat in the pouring rain. I signed up on the spot. What an awesome example of mother-ingenuity in the face of desparation! Your nipples should be bronzed! So in my book, you can hate public boobies all you want, as breastfeeding super-hero, you've earned the right.
August 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSarah
Ha ha! Even though I do it anyway, I still feel super nervous when BFing in public. Especially when I'm in America, or on a plane bound for the US. All those stories of women getting yelled at by flight attendants etc makes me nervous of a potential scene!
August 6, 2011 | Unregistered Commentererica
Bronzed nips, hey? I could probably wear them as a pendant on a chain around my neck.Wut? Breastfeeding is my superpower. I'm supernips.
August 6, 2011 | Unregistered Commentererica
E never successfully got on the boob (medical drama, blah blah blah) so the most public I ever got was pumping in the middle of the PICU room as I asked every last question I had to the doctors because who knew when I'd get a chance to track them down again. No shame. I did pump on a plane once and it was embarassing and awkward and awful..and I never did it again. Parked car, no problem...driving, no problem.

I'm really nervous about nursing in public with #2. In the US I'd have my state's law printed out and be ready to take on any naysayer. But in SG, I'm far more likely just to retreat to the mother's rooms. I don't know. I'm eager to try, to get a real shot at it, but I'm open to the idea that it may not work for us.
August 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterC
I could have written that post!!! (If, you know, I had your talent, and idea, and actually did it. Which I didn't) Luckily we are past public nursing, but I have so been there on the flight where my kids legs are sticking out in the aisle and I cannot move even an inch for the cart to go by or she'll lose her sleeping grip on my boobs and all hell will break loose!

Japan is pretty bf-friendly (once you leave the hospital!) but I shocked my mom at home wandering around West Edmonton mall with baby boy in sling nursing away while I tried on pants and tried not to get the meital or nursing cover stuck in the top.
August 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJen
Yeah, I've been pretty happy with how BF friendly Japan is. Still, as a cultural outsider, I'm never sure if I'm offending someone by nursing in public, so I'm always a bit nervous. Though that didn't stop me from meltdown-avoidance nursing in the subway yesterday!Just curious: from your comment, it seems like you're implying that hospitals are NOT bf friendly. Is this true? I had Stella in a birth center and they were very pro BF (though had some funny-to-me notions about how to go about ensuring bf preparedness). Was your experience different?
August 15, 2011 | Unregistered Commentererica
I had my first in a regular clinic, and had 3 saleswomen a day come to give cans of formula. I'd say, no no I'm breastfeeding and they'd give it to me "just in case". Plus free bottles, bibs, and other free things. I really felt like a consumer not a mother. I had my second at home with a midwife and the feeling about bfing was just so much better.
August 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJen
OH really! This is a side of things that I had no idea about! I had Stella in a birth center, and I think that formula was actually banned. If you wanted your kid to have it, you had to buy it from outside. I assumed this was standard. Guess not!

I'm also interested in your home birth experience. I didn't realize that was even an option here in Japan.
August 16, 2011 | Unregistered Commentererica

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