Dear Diary,

Last week my daughter and I were heading home on the bus, known in San Francisco as MUNI, when she had an overwhelming urge to breastfeed. We were returning from a class across town when she got all fussy and swiveled her little body around so she was facing my right breast–her favorite. I’ve always been more than comfortable nursing in public, but this time, for the first time in 19 months, I was hesitant. The bus wasn’t crowded and in the scheme of crazy things that happen on MUNI, breastfeeding on the bus doesn’t even cause a blip. San Franciscans are known for having pretty tolerant views about a lot of things, including nudity, so it would seem that the act of breastfeeding would be one of the least controversial things that could happen in this town.

So why was I worried? Even now I’m not sure, but I think it was because the people closest to us were all men. Not that any of them were even looking in our direction, but I wondered whether I would offend them? Would they try to catch a glimpse of my breasts?

I told Mia to wait, that we’d be home soon, but she was having none of it. We’d just left a language class in a new place with new people, so I’m sure she needed both comfort and a snack. As her cries grew louder, I had a moment of clarity that basically shifted to, Who cares what they think? Five seconds later, Mia was latched, quiet and calm. The experience reminded me that breastfeeding is not a perfect journey for any mama. It may start tough and get easier, or be a breeze out of the gate only to run into some issues down the road. In my own head, I assumed I’d had just about every breastfeeding experience possible, but here we were on the bus. A new one! And there wasn’t anyone else for me to turn to to ask, Do you think its cool if I nurse here? There was just a hungry baby, and a mama with all the food she could need. Who was I to say no?

It also made me realize me that its okay to consider the feelings of others and still choose to make my own decisions about what is best for my daughter, to put us first.

I’ve heard so many mothers agonize over how to deal with partners, family and friends who don’t support their breastfeeding journey, and of course the stories of strangers shaming moms for breastfeeding in public make my stomach turn. Maybe I worried one of those men would do that to us.

As with so many things, my overactive imagination was nowhere near the reality of what happened. Of the three men in our vicinity, one moved to another seat, although this is a common occurrence on MUNI and probably had nothing to do with us. The other didn’t even notice, and the last gave me a hint of a smile. At least I think he did, but the smile on Mia’s face when she finished was unmistakeable. I’d absolutely made the right choice.

Lesly Simmons is the Founder and Editor of Mama’s Guide: Discover Stroller Friendly San Francisco. She lives in San Francisco with her husband Jole and 18-month-old daughter Mia.

Hey DFTM Fam–Have you contemplated if you should breastfeed in public? What worried you?


About The Author

#Chocolate Milk

Throughout August, in celebration of National Breastfeeding Awareness Month, Diary of a First Time Mom will publish a new nursing story each day, written by 31+ black mom bloggers. DFTM Creator Heather Hopson asked each blogger to submit a personal breastfeeding story, and they immediately emailed their experiences—both good and bad. They wrote about everything from allergies and ignorance to pumping and working. Heather curated this collection to educate other African-American women about breastfeeding. That way, they will be armed with information to make a decision. Heather hopes you will join the movement on Twitter. Follow @dearmomdiary and the participants. You can check the #ChocolateMilk blogger ambassador list! Be sure to tweet using #ChocolateMilk. And don’t forget to share your story by clicking on Breastfeeding→ Lactation Nation on the menu bar above. Meanwhile, let us know in the comment box below why you nursed—or didn’t.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.