I Felt More Comfortable Breastfeeding Outside The United States
Soon after Charlieâ€™s birth, I met a friend for coffee. When Charlie started crying hunger, I scrambled to find a private space. The place we chose, normally quiet, was inexplicably packed with women drinking coffee, kids running around like maniacs, not a single empty area.
â€œShould I go to the bathroom?â€ I asked my friend.
She looked at me like I was nuts. â€œJust do it here,â€ she shrugged.
â€œItâ€™s ok in public?â€
â€œClaro. Your baby needs to eat. What else would you do?â€ She was incredulous. It never for a moment occurred to her that there was another option.
Since then, Iâ€™ve been breastfeeding in public with wild abandon.
A short list of the places Iâ€™ve brought out the boob in the past three months:
We went to the Registro Civil in Salta to register Charlieâ€™s birth. Itâ€™s what all babies born in Argentina must do to prove they exist. â€œDa la teta!â€ the woman at the office commanded so he would be distracted while she took his fingerprints. So give him the tit I did.
I boobed him at the pizza shop in Tigre as we chatted with a man beside his brick oven about whether New York or Argentina has better pizza. â€œBest in Argentina,â€ I told him but didnâ€™t mention that NY pizza will always win with me.
That chichi cafe in Buenos Aires that reminded me of something youâ€™d find on the Upper East Side? Yep. I breastfed at my table while a woman at another table sat drinking tea, one side of her shirt up, her little girl taking nips whenever she felt hungry. The couple with her were probably her parents, but who knows, could have been a job interview.
In the line at immigration where we stood with five hundred others waiting to renew their visas.
At a friendâ€™s dinner party. I moved to the couch to be more comfortable, and the two women at dinner joined me for a chat.
At a lawyerâ€™s office.
Meeting with an architect to go over plans.
At a wifi cafe.
In the car.
At the park.
In short, anywhere I need to go, baby comes with me and eats when he needs to eat.
While Argentina may have its problems, breastfeeding women are not among them. Women arenâ€™t sequestered or sent to bathrooms. Thereâ€™s no judgment. I never find men staring at my swollen postpartum breasts. They give me the privacy I need even while in public.
I am not entitled. I do not believe the world revolves around me and my baby. Believe me, I have no desire for you to see my breasts. I do, however, understand that babies who breastfeed grow into toddlers who want to run. Those toddlers become children who express themselves loudly and with great abandon no matter how many times you remind them to use their inside voices. But bit at a time, we teach our children that ultimately, we must live in harmony with other people and respect the needs of others. This is what Iâ€™ve taught Lila, and itâ€™s what I plan to teach Charlie.
It seems those of you who believe that every breastfeeding woman must stay under cover and out of your way could use a bit of that lesson yourself.
(photo: javi_indy/ Shutterstock)