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Chief among these parenting decisions,
many would argue, is whether or not to breastfeed. Assuming she wants
to, the baby wants to, mom's body is willing and able to produce the
milk, and she can actually find a comfortable nursing position that
doesn't make her baby's latch feel like a car battery clamp on her
nipple, many new moms truly enjoy the experience of nursing.
Mothers are legally allowed to nurse almost everywhere ("Forty-nine states, the District of Columbia
and the Virgin Islands have laws that specifically allow women to
breastfeed in any public or private location," states the NCSL),
so what's the problem? Well, all too often mothers who openly
breastfeed encounter outraged and offended strangers, misinformed
business owners who ask them to stop or super-creepy boob oglers who
don't want them to stop—for all the wrong reasons. These
moms want to feed their babies, but they don't want to be singled
out, stared at, asked to leave or forced to cover up.
If you really applied yourself you could probably teach your baby to suckle through (a straw) instead of doing something gross, like letting your baby come into physical contact with your nipple.
I've spent over four years of my life
as a happily breastfeeding mama, and although I did occasionally
venture out into the world during meal time, I never did find a great
solution for public nursing—at least not one that satisfied
strangers' desires to avoid seeing my boobs, my own desire to pretend
I had a shred of modesty left, and most
importantly, my babies' desire to get some food and stop
screaming, for the love of all that's holy.
Some argue that the responsibility lies
with the moms, who should go ahead and nurse their babies if that's
what they want to do and stop worrying about everyone else's
reaction. But let's get real—plenty of mamas who are open-minded about breastfeeding still mind if strangers see their breasts. Most people agree that nursing mothers should be afforded
some privacy, but lame attempts to accommodate nursing moms like the
airport that converted a bathroom stall into a "Nursing Lounge" are generally met with public scorn. Yet one wonders, who should
foot the bill for providing comfortable areas for breastfeeding that fall somewhere realistic on a scale from "velvet-draped
private spa" to "germ-infested toilet"?
Unfortunately there's no definite
solution, yet the Internet will continue debating it for an eternity.
Maybe the best response is for moms to take the power back by
exerting some control over the situation—I mean, how hard could it
be to ensure you have an issue-free public breastfeeding experience?
Here's a list of items nursing moms should cram into their diaper
bags (there's PLENTY of room in there for more stuff, right?) in preparation for making baby's meal enjoyable for everyone.
1. Handsanitizerin a 57-gallon jug
spread liberally onto your surroundings.
2. Selection of nursing bras
Now you can
ask for the manager's opinion on which one offers the most
appropriate coverage for their establishment.
If everyone's going
to put your nipples in the spotlight, you better make sure they're
4. Magazines to pass out
Strangers can have something interesting to look at besides your boobs.
5. Nursing covers for people who still think covering up is the solution
If it's so reasonable, they
shouldn't mind hanging out in the darkness while smothered
under a blanket until you're finished.
6. Hazmat suits
Put this on when someone's concerned
that your nursing is "unsanitary."
7. Binoculars, in case people decide to
It would be rude not to show them you're equally interested in
what they're doing!
If you really applied
yourself you could probably teach your baby to suckle through one
instead of doing something gross, like letting your
baby come into physical contact with your nipple, the way nature
In the event you get shamed
into nursing in a secondary location, you'll want to be sure your friends can join you to continue your conversation in the bathroom or locker room. Fun!
10. The phone number for a good topless
You can distract fellow patrons from your scandalous
exposure with a more socially acceptable display of breasts.
11. A cape, a tent or (preferably) a doomsday device to blot out the sun
This is to minimize the chance that some hapless, innocent bystander might witness your infant having lunch.