How to Handle Breastfeeding Judgement

And how your response sets an example for everyone looking.

*We’ve partnered with Bravado Designs to help normalize breastfeeding anytime, anywhere.

The world of motherhood can often be filled with differing opinions – and that can be especially true when it comes to breastfeeding your baby. As mothers, in our hearts and heads, we know we are entitled to feed our baby wherever, whenever; yet those first public nursings can still come with fear, shame and incredible self-consciousness. But, what if you thought of every public breastfeeding session not only as a way to keep baby’s belly full, but also as an opportunity to empower another mother who’s watching? Maybe seeing you breastfeed in public will help her to be more confident and secure next time she’s feeling judgement that can sometimes come along with motherhood.

In honor of all you tough mamas (and the tough mamas in the making), we’ve partnered with our friends at Bravado Designs to bring you some beautiful stories of breastfeeding in public. Meet Niurka Maldonado, mom of two, photographed in Brooklyn feeding her daughter Paulina.

Mom waiting for the train Breastfeeding on the subway

“’Tough’. That was my response to my 4-year-old, who was whining and wailing over a toy I had refused to buy her TWO HOURS AGO. I tried to reason with her; I really did. But nothing worked. And so, I reached my limit. When she cried out, ‘I’ll never hold your hand again if you don’t get it for me,’ I closed my eyes, drew a deep breath in, and said what mothers before me have said for thousands of years, ‘Tough’.

A few days later I lost track of her at a playground. As I walked around looking for her, I heard a bullying older girl call her a baby, trying to convince her to vacate her playground toy of choice. I turned in time to hear my daughter respond with a cool, calm, and collected, ‘Tough’ and I swelled with pride.

I remember back to the days when she was a baby; I was anything but tough. I was petrified of nursing in public. What would people think? What would they say or do? How would they feel towards me and my baby?

Nursing came relatively easy for me. When each of my two daughters was born, they latched fairly quickly, and my supply never faltered. I’ve always been a rather small-busted lady, so having someone finally just want me for my breasts was a fairly new and exhilarating feeling. Still, I couldn’t shake the fear that everyone was judging me when we were out, and I felt embarrassed for a long time about nursing outside of my home.

Bravado nursing bra in bareNiurka Maldonado

New motherhood can often feel like junior high, a time when you’re convinced everybody is watching your every move and talking about you behind their back. In this state of mine, the briefest moment of eye contact with a stranger can feel like you’re on the receiving end of snickering. We do this to ourselves — does that guy think my son shouldn’t be on an iPad? Do these folks assume I spoil my daughter because she’s throwing a tantrum? Is that older woman disgusted at the sight of me breastfeeding? What I came to realize over time is, in reality, most people just don’t have that kind of time for me. In real life, the only people alive who think of me that often are myself and, well, that little baby who will never again be so dependent on me.

I had to ask myself, what was the example I wanted to set? I made up my mind to get over what I assumed people were thinking, and just be.

In nearly five years of motherhood, I never once experienced a moment of unkindness over breastfeeding. That’s not to say I haven’t registered a few looks of surprise here and there and the occasional whisper, but overall, people just want to go about their day. And if they don’t? If they want to run away or cover me up? … Well, tough.”

Photography by Belle Savransky for Well Rounded.

Niurka is wearing Bravado Designs’ Buttercup Nursing Bra in Bare, pictured below. Buy it here and get 20% off with code BRAVADO20 until JUNE 12.

We want to share your story about breastfeeding in public on Well Rounded! Post a photo on Instagram showing us where you breastfeed, tag us and use the hashtag #thisiswhereibreastfeed. Or email us your story and a photo at info@wellroundedny.com. Make sure to post by Thursday June 15!

bravado buttercup in bare

Jessica Pallay

Jessica Pallay

JESSICA PALLAY is Co-Founder and Editor of Well Rounded NY. She is a Brooklyn mama to Libby and Elsie, and writes about all things pregnancy and new motherhood.

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