Photo credit: http://helloblueivycarter.tumblr.com/
Note: This article appears on Essence.com as well
There is another article on Essence.com about Beyonce breast-feeding in public written by Demetria Lucas and it along with several other articles and tweets inspired me to write a little something on the topic about my own experience with breastfeeding.
The hoopla around Mrs. Carter feeding Blue Ivy has reached such a groundswell that I felt it would be remiss of me as the resident Mom Blogger not to say something. The NIP (nursing in public) incident instantly transported me back to each of my children and my own struggles with breastfeeding. You should know, it is not easy nor does it come naturally for everyone.
I think the longest I managed to breastfeed was about 5 months. I had the nurses at the hospital assisting me, lactation consultants when I got home, friends and the like all providing me plenty of advice and 'hands on experience' (not even kidding--the nurses will physically assist with helping the baby latch on). In the end I either didn't produce enough milk to sustain breastfeeding or my back-to-work schedule made it next to impossible to pump in between meetings and alas mama's milk dried up.
There was a weighted sense of guilt with my first and second children that I couldn't breastfeed them longer. I felt inadequate, I cried and I wondered what was wrong with me. However, by the time the 3rd one came along I was too tired to even stress myself about it and did a hybrid of breast milk and formula almost instantly. I just knew that as soon as I left the hospital I would be up all night with the baby and trying to take care of the other two. For reference, they are all healthy, smart and vibrant.
I say all this to say that being able to breast feed your child is a natural, giving moment that only YOU can give to your child. Its not sexy or salacious in any way (I couldn't even think about my breast differently at that time-they were just vessels). Frankly, some of the billboards in Times Square or the ads on TV are far more risque then feeding your child in public. I do agree with a cover for comfort of people around you but often times that is not the case and a baby is hungry. And I certainly think its weird to breastfeed 2 and 3 year olds, I mean the kid has incisors at that point!
If you are judging, you might want to ask yourself, what would you do if your child was hungry? You would do whatever you had to do at that moment to feed them. If you had a built in sippy cup why not use it? I applaud Mrs. Carter for what came naturally but I'm sure she didn't expect to be the new poster child for NIP and nurse-ins happening around the country. Additionally, I hope that more black mothers will continue to try and breast feed their children. I wish I could have longer and I would have totally whipped out my own sippy cup at the lunch table for my beautiful brown babies as long as I could have.
Its a natural gift that if you are able is a wonderful bonding, nutrient rich and loving connection between a mother and child. Enjoy it while you can.