A resource to inspire, inform and empower parents.

Become a Badass Public Breastfeeder in 7 Days: Day 2 – All Eyes on You

Abby Theuring, The Badass Breastfeeder, breastfeeding in public. All Eyes on You: Dealing with staring

This was the most common concern I heard from women when I asked them what worries them about breastfeeding in public. You are already nervous to breastfeed in public. One day you get up the nerve to go to a restaurant. You start to breastfeed your baby and you notice a creepy dude staring at you. You notice a woman giving you dirty looks. You notice the couple across the aisle whispering about you. Now you’re breathing heavy, you want to run out of the room, you feel embarrassed. It’s not the NIP experience anyone would want!

I will spend today talking about the act of staring and share some tips to deal with it. First, I would like to discuss some myths about strangers staring at us. Often times they are not staring at all. It’s all in our head. We feel anxious or nervous about what we are doing so we overthink it. We fear that people will stare at us so we think everyone who looks in our direction is staring when they are most likely not. It’s like the “walk of shame” phenomena. You just had a drunken one night stand with some guy you met at a bar. You leave his apartment to walk home and feel like everyone on the street knows what you just did and is staring at you calling you a slut in their minds.

The reality is that human beings are social creatures. We look at each other. Women are awesome, amazing and interesting. People look at us no matter what we are doing. It just happens that breastfeeding in public makes us feel uneasy so we can misinterpret people’s intentions. People are more likely impressed by what we are doing, interested because they don’t often see it. Maybe they are trying to get a glance of your cute baby, maybe they don’t like your shirt, maybe you have a booger hanging out of your nose, maybe they are trying to work up the courage to tell you that you rock the house.

Worrying about getting stared at can be a nasty self-fulfilling prophecy. If you leave your house determined to feel stared at and persecuted by others, then you will likely find this at some point. If you leave your house knowing that you are a good mother, a productive member of society, a fabulous and beautiful woman, a hot to trot mother of a baby that you love more than anyone you are going to come across, then you will find that others are looking at you like this as well.


Exuding confidence

People know a confident person from an insecure person. We are dripping wet on the outside with how we feel about ourselves on the inside. The good news is this is easy to fix. Everything begins with your thoughts. When you think differently, you feel differently, and then you behave differently. Always remember that this baby you are holding grew inside your own womb, being nourished to health by the power of your own body. Then you gave birth to this baby. No matter what your birth story is your baby is here in your arms because of you. No, no, not the doctor, not the midwife, not your husband, YOU. And even more real is that you and your baby did it together. You worked with your baby for hours, maybe even days, to finally meet each other. You are the Dynamic Duo. Once this baby was born you put her to your breast and maybe it was a huge struggle, maybe you needed to supplement, maybe you’re not sure how long it will last, but for now and in this moment you are nourishing this baby and keeping her alive with your own body. The truth is there is nothing you two can’t do together. You are unstoppable.

It doesn’t matter what you looked like 10 years ago. It doesn’t matter what you looked like before you had your baby. It doesn’t matter that you have stretch marks or extra skin or scars. You are beautiful. I am not here to tell you this so that you will like me. I am serious. Women are beautiful. Nature made it that way. It’s just science. People are going to look at you because of this. Some people might stare. They might stare at you the way you stare at Ryan Gosling or maybe the way you stare at the stars or at puppies or mountains. Be proud of this. Everything about us is gorgeous. Our hair, our skin, our eyes, our bodies and the energy we exude. Here are a few tips to go along with your new thoughts about yourself:

•          Look people dead in the eye.

•          Smile.

•          Keep your shoulders back.

•          Keep your head up.

•          Treat the world in the way you want it to treat your child no matter what anyone does to you.

The fact is you would protect your child with your life no matter where you are. Your baby is your number one priority. You are a powerful woman. You are a mother. Pride yourself on this, if nothing else. Being a mother to your child is the most powerful thing in the world because you are the only one who can do it. You are the only person on the planet that can be a mother to your baby. You are more powerful than anyone else in the universe.

Here are some practical tips to deal with the gawking world:

•          Play with your cell phone. If you are looking down then you won’t notice other people and they will be less likely to engage you in a staring contest.

•          Bring a friend. Being with people we know, whether they are breastfeeding or not, can help ease anxiety.

•          If the idea appeals to you, try using a cover. You might find it helpful to use a breastfeeding cover, a light blanket or scarf to cover your breast.

•          Connect with baby. The truth is if you are noticing people staring, then you are not looking at your baby. Breastfeeding is an excellent time to smile and have a loving moment.


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