Is Nursing in Public Narcissistic?

If you ask any number of people on the internet the answer to this question is a resounding, “Yes!” I mean, “Can’t you use a cover?” “You should be more modest!” “Women should be more discreet.” “You need to do that in the bathroom.” “You just want attention!”

I get these comments all the time. I get them on the internet, that is, because no one yet has had the balls to say it to my face even if it’s what they were thinking. I read comments all the time such as, “You are such an attention whore!” “You are a narcissistic mother!” “You are just trying to show off.” “You just want people to look at you.”

As a mental health professional I’ll skip the rant about how lay people use clinical terms that they don’t really know the definition of and head straight to the fact that, actually, breastfeeding is in direct opposition with narcissism. Breastfeeding demands that you give your body over to someone else. It makes you put the needs of your baby above your own. It makes you push yourself into uncomfortable situations all the time. Breastfeeding in public comes with a ton of backlash in this country and many breastfeeders refuse to breastfeed in public or feel nervous that someone will harass them. Breastfeeders are usually just hoping no one notices. No one has been all, “Please look at me! I’m breastfeeding!” Well, actually I did that when I struggled for several months to figure it out, cried every day, thought I was a huge loser and had panics attacks that my body was failing me and my child. Then when things started working out I was all, “Look at me! I’m breastfeeding!” See how that’s different?

Abby Theuring, The Badass Breastfeeder, nursing in public.

People don’t really get how hard breastfeeding is; how much work it takes and how much anxiety, fear and sadness that it can bring out. People don’t really get how hard parenting is at all. How much of a transformation that it brings us through when we go from woman/man to parent. It’s like a whole mind fuck that when we get through it we are so proud and relieved and in love. Until the next thing knocks us down and brings us through a whole new struggle. Maybe your friend had a baby and became all “self-absorbed,” and you got your feelings hurt because suddenly you weren’t the most important person to them anymore. They didn’t call you all the time anymore, come to your house and listen to all of your struggles about being tired and having no time to shower or clean. I’m sorry your friend hurt your feelings. But they were likely crying on the floor covered in poop and vomit and hadn’t showered in 4 days and didn’t know if it was night or day. Stop being so narcissistic and try seeing the shit from their perspective for a second rather than just call us “breeders,” “narcissists,” and “self-absorbed.” I can guarantee you no new parent is thinking about themselves!

Can a breastfeeder be narcissistic? Sure, I guess there are people all over who struggle with this. But a person breastfeeding stands out to you because they are doing something that you don’t usually see. It catches your attention. But then you blame her for catching your own attention. See how that’s sort of backwards? And it catches your attention because you are brainwashed with the rest of society that breasts are for sexual purposes only. So you get all offended when you see a person using those breasts for natural and selfless reasons like nourishing and comforting a child. You’re all like, “Omg! Look at her with her boobs hanging out and that child is all sucking on them! How gross and perverted!” But that’s actually a perverted thing to think. So guess who is actually perverted here?

Breastfeeding in public is not narcissistic or self-centered. It’s actually the opposite. It’s the act of putting a child first, before anyone else, so that child can be well cared for. I will always put my children first because they are children. You are an adult. You can wait, look away, deal with some discomfort, but they can’t. It’s actually indicative of a totally narcissistic society that other people can’t put children’s needs first. Where we can’t just say, “Oh that baby is crying or needs his parents right now so I will just show some understanding and allow them the space to do their jobs.”

You want me to cover up? No way. No one ever told me to cover up before when I put on my push-up bra and pranced around with my tits out. Nope. No one ever told me to cover up when my boobs were all dressed up and looking for attention. Actually, that’s when I wanted attention. Not now. No thank you. Just let me sit here and feed my child and smell my new mom body odor and be embarrassed that my hair is a rat’s nest. Just let me feel the fucking sun on my face, maybe it will help with the swelling from not sleeping last night because this baby stayed latched from sun down to sun up. You want me to go to the bathroom? Oh my goodness, please just fuck off. Seriously, I will go ape shit if anyone ever suggests I should breastfeed my child in the shitter. You. You go to the shitter and eat. Problem solved.

Abby Theuring, The Badass Breastfeeder, nursing in public

I share these photos because it helps people figure out breastfeeding, reach their goals and create a community of parents. We all share these photos because we feel proud of the struggles we have overcome. We are proud of our children. We have as much right to share our breastfeeding photos as you have to share your boring food photos.

We breastfeed in public because we have a right to be in public. Our children have a human right to eat and be comforted wherever they are. It would be really nice if you could for once lend me a hand, pass me my water bottle, pick up the fork my baby just threw to the floor or just turn your head and mind your own fucking business just as I do when I see sweaty butt cracks or twisted toes in sandals everyday of goddamned life.

Comments

  1. Never has anything been more true than this blog post. I can relate to it on so many levels. My son is 13 months and we are coming to a whole new set of hurdles when it comes to breastfeeding, especially in public. I was comfortable with it until he got too big to carry around and do it at the same time. That’s when I get the stares. It’s something I’m still coming to terms with but my son will always come first, even if that means a few funny looks.

    Your posts have made a huge difference to my whole parenting and breastfeeding journey. Keep up the amazing work you do.

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