Some of you may wonder what that stands for…. others may already know. It stands for nursing in public. It’s an abbreviation used on forums about breastfeeding. A video was shared on the Le Leche League forum that I watched today that was so powerful to me, that I felt like I needed to write this. I need to get my thoughts on “paper” and maybe, just maybe, someone would read this and re-evaluate how they view NIP, at the least give it a thought.
Breastfeeding is a subject near and dear to me, and the education of today’s society on it is very important. It’s a subject that is surrounded by plenty of controversy with “mommy wars” being fueled daily with “breast is best” slogans and “my child was fed formula and they turned out fine” comments. Mostly, I stay out of this. Although I do feel that breastfeeding is far superior to formula and that if a mom can breastfeed, she should. There is obviously a need for formula as there are cases where a mother cannot (realistically a VERY small percentage – but it does happen as I know someone personally who could not) or shouldn’t. Just take a look at the scorecard that the US received from the CDC for 2012. It’s appalling that such stats exist on breastfeeding and that the CDC actually has to campaign to increase the number of breastfed babies.
Anyway, back to NIP. I would love to walk into a room full of people and ask for a show of hands on who would be offended or embarrassed by a woman nursing her baby in public. I would not be surprised to see a large percentage of hands raised. But then, I would pose the question – who would be offended by a woman wearing a low-cut shirt with sizable cleavage? How many hands would be raised? I dare say nothing close to the previous question. In this over sexed society, the simple act of feeding a child the way that we were intended to be fed has become a lewd act that has caused mothers to be treated with terrible disrespect. There are stories of mothers being kicked out of restaurants, asked to leave stores, even You read the stories all the time how a mother was treated as though she were acting like a stripper while breastfeeding. Let’s be honest, people see more on a commercial for an upcoming blockbuster than you would see from a woman nursing her child.
This is not a battle that needs to be fought, yet woman are fighting it daily. What is wrong with a society that sees nothing wrong with a bikini clad 13 yr old on an Abercrombie wall, but wants to persecute a mother feeding her child?
Since I am on baby #2 with breastfeeding, I have found it somewhat liberating to not really care where I feed him these days. It has taken almost 3 yrs for me to feel comfortable feeding my baby at the table while we eat dinner out in a restaurant. When I was pregnant with #1 I did not ever think that would happen. There is an enormous mix of emotion that surrounds NIP for me… frustration, anger, sadness… those are with society. Then there is the simple satisfaction that my child is having his needs met in the most natural way possible. Should I feel uncomfortable? Should I be ashamed to expose my breast to feed my child? NO. Am I? At times, yes. It is a sad day that mothers have to feel this way. And the fact that only 3 yrs ago I was one of the woman who felt like breastfeeding should be done in the privacy of your own home makes me so regretful. In my life, there is only a small circle of woman who breastfeed, and only a couple that would ever NIP. I hope for the day that this changes. I hope to be a part of that change. Each time I NIP now I hope that some mother who is embarrassed to do so sees me, and feels a little glimmer of hope that she can do the same.
Here is the video that prompted this post… it is powerful to me and I hope that it is to others.
Just a note: in case you are not aware of some of what she is referring to – formula companies were going into third world countries (without clean water sources and little to no income) and pushing formula as superior breast milk. Mothers would stop or not nurse, causing their milk to dry up and then be unable to provide safe or enough food for their babies.