We went to a party on Saturday at a friend’s house. I’ve been noticing lately that the parties Michael and I go to aren’t the same as the ones we went to five or six years ago. I can remember when we went to parties where the guests argued over how much whipped cream they needed to fill a small swimming pool for a wrestling match. Now they discuss the benefits of cloth versus disposable diapers. Boy how times have changed.
Among the guests at Saturday’s were three infants, two of whom (Sam and one other) are breastfed. The other nursing mom and I took turns feeding in the glider parked in the host’s living room. The place was packed with other guests of course, and as I nursed Sam, I got to thinking about breastfeeding in public. I could never breastfeed Cassie in public. For starters, I wasn’t very comfortable with breastfeeding back then. It was a painful, frustrating task most of the time. Cassie also never sat still while nursing, thus making it difficult to feed her without flashing my naked breast at any bystanders.
Sam, however, is far more placid when it comes to nursing. I can sit in a public place, drop a blanket over my shoulder and latch her on with little problem. She doesn’t flail about. She just hunkers down and gets to work. Any time I tried dropping a blanket over Cassie, we got a mummenshanz puppet show, with random arms and legs and the occasional breast popping out from under the blanket.
Different moms do different things, depending on their level of comfort with breastfeeding. As I figure it, there are eight different comfort levels to nursing in public.
Level one – the Hypocrite. Mention breastfeeding in public and the mom says, “Ick! That’s gross. Nobody wants to see a mom go around half-naked in public, flashing her breasts to the whole world!” You’ll never catch this mommy breastfeeding, but you will probably see her waltzing around the local pool in a bikini about the size of a Band Aid with her boobs falling out of the non-existent cups, and trust me, nobody wants to watch that either.
Level two – the Neophyte. At parties and other public events, mom and baby mysteriously disappear every two hours. If you go looking for them, you’re likely to find them in a bathroom, toilet stall, small closet or the back of a car with dark tinted windows. You won’t see this mom breastfeeding either, but she’s doing it. She’s just not giving out any free shows, thank you very much, and if she didn’t fear the “Breast Is Best” Nazis so much, she’d probably bring a bottle of formula with her and use that instead (which quite frankly, she ought to be allowed to do).
Level three – the Cover-up. This mom is perfectly happy with a quiet corner and a blanket securely pinned to her shoulder. She can nurse without being seen. May sometimes wear one of those really ugly breastfeeding cover-ups that makes her look like she’s eating lobster while having a haircut at the same time.
Level four – Almost Normal. Mom prefers to nurse sitting down, with a blanket draped over one shoulder. She has no problems chatting with other party guests while nursing, although she it can be a bit distracting when the baby starts making loud yummy noises under the blanket.
Level five – the Smooth Operator. Similar to level four, but goes without the blanket and just pulls up the shirt instead. Hopelessly horny guys shouldn’t bother hoping for a peek at her breast. This mom’s so quick even the baby doesn’t see the nipple before it starts to nurse.
Level six – A Little Too Comfortable. Mom doesn’t need a chair or a blanket. She just picks up the kid and stuffs him under her shirt to nurse while she stands at the punch bowl and serves herself another drink.
Level seven – the Show Off. Mom stands on one side of the room. The baby is propped up either in its carrier or a Boppy pillow on the other. After calling out “Here’s mud in your eye!” the mom whips out her breast and manually expresses milk so that it shoots all the way across the room into the baby’s open mouth. She’ll do this for about twenty minutes and then switch to the other breast.
Level eight – the Breast Nazi. Just like level seven, only the baby is actually twelve years old and the mom chants “Breast is best!” while shooting milk all over the place. You’re highly unlikely to see this woman at any parties because too many of the guests get soaked when she goes on a rampage.
So moms, what’s your comfort level with breastfeeding in public? Think about it before you head out to your next social event.