I truly never thought I would be a mother who would breastfeed in a public place. Ever.
I am a pretty modest person when it comes to my body. But giving birth kind of sucked out a lot of that modesty, and what was left with was sucked out by the dozen or so lactation specialists shoving my naked breast into my infant son’s mouth, trying to get him to latch on. At one point in the hospital, my own mother was holding my breast while I tried to get my baby to take it. Needless to say, I have a different view of boobs now than I did before having a child. What I now know is that breastfeeding is—in my humble opinion—a beautiful, mutually beneficial, bonding act that should be accepted by everyone, everywhere. Period.
Even so, I spent a few nursing sessions in the car and a few in a bathroom stall before saying, “Forget this!” Then for a while, I used a cover, but as soon as my son’s motor skills improved, the cover just wouldn’t stay on. After a while, I gave up and just started giving my baby what he needed when he needed it. Still, after almost 17 months of this, I feel nervous that I may offend someone every. single. time. Most mothers feel this way. We have been trained to by society.
Enter the Nashville Breastfeeding Coalition. The NBC is a group of volunteers—doctors, nurses, nutritionists, moms, and other breastfeeding advocates. Their goal is to help mothers who choose to breastfeed through prenatal education, while in the hospital and in their first days at home. They are also working hard to help remove the cultural and social stigma of nursing in the community. They have partnered with the Tennessee Department of Health to acknowledge businesses that support breastfeeding mothers with the Breastfeeding Welcomed Here campaign. Businesses take a pledge to provide a comfortable, safe place for mothers to nurse their children. Their employees understand that these mothers are protected by the law and will explain this to any offended patrons. Many popular places in Nashville have taken this pledge, such as Pancake Pantry, Pangaea, Bongo Java, The Pharmacy, Whole Foods, The Produce Place, and Fido. For a complete list, click here. You can recognize the businesses that have taken the pledge by this snazzy sticker placed in their windows:
I mentioned earlier that nursing was protected by the law, but I want to be a bit more specific. Here are the laws in place in Tennessee:
- A mother may breastfeed in any public or private place she is authorized to be.
- Breastfeeding shall not be considered public indecency or nudity, obscene, or sexual conduct.
- Local governments shall not prohibit breastfeeding in public by local ordinance.
So, a mother can breastfeed anywhere she wants, sticker or no sticker. The decal just means that these businesses are advocates and are ready to stick up for mommy should anyone complain. I, personally, find this to be fantastic. Isn’t it nice to have so many people in our corner, moms?
Speaking of breastfeeding in public and the Nashville Breastfeeding Coalition, they are hosting The Big Latch On Nashville on August 2nd at Opry Mills. The Big Latch On is a global event where women all over the world meet at the same time and try to break the world record for the most mothers breastfeeding simultaneously. Other than beating the world record, the goal of this event is to increase support for nursing mamas and raise awareness about the value of breastfeeding in the community. It is held during the first week of August in celebration of World Breastfeeding Week. This is a cause that is near and dear to my heart, so I will definitely be among those in attendance. If you would like to join me, be in the Entrance 4 Food Court at Opry Mills Mall at 9:30 am on Saturday, August 2nd.
Hope to see you there!