Breastfeeding is a good thing, and being able to do it anytime and anywhere is a wonderful thing. Breastfeeding in public is legal in many parts of the world. However, many women are still reluctant to nurse in public because of fear. One of the reasons why some mothers are afraid to do it is because they think they may have issues handling criticisms while breastfeeding in public.
Nursing a child in the open view of others is still frowned upon by many. There are already laws that protect a mother’s right to breastfeed. However, there is still the never-ending debate as to whether women should be allowed to breastfeed in public or not.
I get it that while most mothers advocate normalizing breastfeeding in public, others may not be able to just accept the fact. My son is now 3 years old and I still breastfeed him in public. Of course, I do get weird stares, but I’ve got to do what I have to do. We are on extended breastfeeding because my son is not ready to wean from the breasts just yet. I also very much believe in the benefits of breastfeeding beyond the first year of life.
So if we cannot avoid harsh criticisms while breastfeeding in public, I guess it is important to find ways to be able to handle them. We cannot control what other people say to us, but we can always control how we respond to criticism. Check out my tips below on ways to respond to criticisms while nursing in public.
Tips on How To Handle Harsh Criticisms while Breastfeeding in Public
Know your rights on breastfeeding in public
You need to know the laws about breastfeeding in public in your locale. Knowing that laws protect your rights to breastfeed your child anywhere and anytime is a good starting point to feel confident about it.
When you know your rights, you can just smile at people giving you the stare or throwing you shade for breastfeeding in public because you know that you are not doing anything wrong.
Respond with a “non-response”.
Criticism may not always be verbal in form, you know that certain “Look” and you almost feel the discomfort when you get it. Your response may be a non-verbal response too if you get condescending looks from people while nursing publicly, do not take it personally, smile at them or nod at them briefly.
If people try to engage you with a conversation about your breastfeeding in public, give them a non-response response. You may just say something like “hmmm, ok”, then disengage quickly by looking away.
When you are approached and if somebody tries to shame you for breastfeeding in public, just try to stay calm. The most important aspect of handling harsh criticism lies in your manner of responding—your tone of voice, gestures, and facial expression.
If maybe a good thing to rehearse your response in front of a mirror, so you would know how to respond with wit when you come face to face with a basher. Doing this will also ensure that you also do not appear threatening to others. You would want to be calm yourself so you may continue breastfeeding in public in peace.
Do not forget the OTHER person but focus on YOUR reasons
People may find things offensive because they do not know your reasons for doing what you do. You can always calmly respond with “I understand you may be feeling upset for whatever reasons you have, but breastfeeding is natural and I need to feed my hungry child.”
Enlist help from people who support breastfeeding in public
I would have to tell you a story. Just last week, I wrote about breastfeeding in public without fear while I breastfeeding my son in public. Ironically, a few days after writing the blog post, a person dear to me saw me nursing my 3-year-old son and called my son “bad boy” when he asked to be fed. I was actually lost for words not because I did not know what to say, but because it was a dear relative who let out that comment. My mom, immediately responded with “why do you have to be so judgemental?” in a humorous tone, and then everybody laughed about.
I felt relieved that my mother came to my aide. She used to ask me to cover up when breastfeeding in public. I am glad that she knew better now.
You can always get those who support your decision to breastfeed even in public to help you in times like these.
Find a response that best represents your decision
I have encountered many women who used to be fearful of breastfeeding in public but are now able to confidently nurse their children publicly. Most of these mothers now understand that there may be some people who will still find nursing in public as undesirable but they have learned to respond in a way that highlights the importance of the choice that they made.
Sure, people will come up with comments that may imply that breastfeeding in public is a no-no, but being true to your decision for doing this will be the best way to respond to harsh criticism aimed at you for breastfeeding in the open view of others.
Breastfeed with Confidence
To be able to handle harsh criticism while nursing in public, you need to always keep the benefits of nursing your child in mind. Like what I always say to my mommy friends, especially to those who have just given birth that breastfeeding is a good thing for the mom and the baby and that IT IS OK TO BREASTFEED YOUR CHILD IN PUBLIC.
We may not hear much about mothers happily breastfeeding in public parks because it does not make the news. We only hear all the debates on whether we should do it or not because it sounds like it is a controversy, but really it is not. I cannot emphasize it so much, but breastfeeding in public is perfectly ok, just plan ahead so you know what to do if something when something unexpected comes up.
There is no need to get anxious about breastfeeding in public. The last thing to be is to get anxious while nursing your child, because how can you feed your child? Try one of the above tips on how to handle harsh criticisms while breastfeeding in public and ease your anxieties about it. As we say, we want to breastfeed in public and we want it normalized, so when you hear people making rude comments then you can just relax and know that you are doing something right.