The Writing Mamas Daily Blog

Each day on the Writing Mamas Daily Blog, a different member will write about mothering.

If you're a mom then you've said these words, you've made these observations and you've lived these situations - 24/7.

And for that, you are a goddess.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008


Breastfeeding at Starbucks

What got me out of the house for the first time after giving birth was an overwhelming desire for a latte.

I headed to Starbucks, proudly wearing my four-week-old baby Scarlett on my chest. When the teenage barista brought over my coffee, she frowned at the squawking in my shirt. I was trying to feed Scarlett, furtively and awkwardly, but Scarlett had unlatched – and, boy, was she mad. When I lifted my shirt to quiet her, revealing a newborn whose head was smaller than the heavy, blue-veined breast she nursed from, the barista ran away.

Embarrassed and apologetic, I ran, too, taking my baby and my latte for a nursing session in the back seat of my car.

Breastfeeding was new to me. You could tell by my self-consciousness and all my gear: nursing bras with circles cut out, capes for hiding behind, support pillows worn like foam tutus. But as my confidence grew, I went au natural, just baby and me and the elements. I breastfed everywhere – the woods, the beach, the farmers' market,  BART stops and barbecues, museums and malls. Even in the presence of my in-laws.

But the fact is that I was proud. I was entirely sustaining another human being, and she was getting fat and rosy off mother's milk. Breastfeeding is a privilege. And I confess I liked confronting the world with this small act of intimacy, the private in the midst of the public. Plus, the baby's hungry.

To the new nursing mother, breasts are about as sexual as elbows. Birth reinterprets her body as little more than an internal bed and breakfast. In a culture of cleavage, breasts that actually do their job feel radical. Perhaps the nursing mother has become a political figure.

These days, I see so many mothers, pregnant ones, others behind Ergos and strollers. If you see one of us nursing in public – and we are, everywhere, all the time – realize that for her, it's nothing special. It's simply life. Don't be afraid to offer an encouraging smile. Or better yet, a latte.

By Mary Wang

Note: This will air on NPR’s KQED’s Perspectives on Wednesday, August 6 at 6:06 a.m, 7:37 a.m., and 11:33 p.m., with a weekend repeat on Sunday, August 10, at 8:37 a.m.

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Bravo for you. I well remember in the late 50's when my first two children were born that the bottle was in and nursing was almost considered crude. I, of course, disagreed and nursed both. Often I would retire to a hall closet or the lady's room. Fortunately we did not go out much as my husband was a poor resident in the hospital where he was on 36 hours and off 12, so I spent most of the time alone in a one room appartment, thoroughly absorbed in my babies and peacefully nursing. So much better and more natural? today.
Enjoy one of the few experiences in life where you give all you have to give, and receive all you need to receive. Cheers, Ruth Scott
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