When a Breastfeeder Spots Another Breastfeeder in Public – a Rare Sighting in Mom World


I scan the bread aisle behind us and spot her sitting on a box crate smack dab in the middle of full and extended lines. I spot his chunky legs squiggling and her eyes peering down into her nursing cover and I smiled. I have spotted a breastfeeding mother!

In all my months as a nursing mama, I can probably count the times on my hand that I’ve randomly spotted another nursing mama out in public. It felt like a rare animal sighting and the scenario played out as such:

The Laotian Breastfeeder rummages through her child sack for nursing-in-public info cards to make silent greetings with the Elusive Breastfeeder. Attempts reveal that the Laotian Toddler has teethed something fierce and all the nursing in public cards were gone except for one, in Spanish. While the Elusive was clearly not of Caucasian circles, the Laotian knew it was a do-or-die mission if her instincts were incorrect. Empty-handed, she then makes her way toward the Elusive Breastfeeder as she has not seen an unfamiliar one in her environment other than Twitter Land and blogosphere. With no clear plan or dialogue, the Laotian passes the Elusive pretending to look at the white bread as a ploy to blend in Elusive’s temporary territory. Passes by again going toward the organic, seedy bread, grabs a loaf with a smile, and asks how long has the Elusive Nursling been earth side. The Elusive, with a faint (Spanish!) accent, answers seven moons and the Laotian attempts engaging talk with Elusive nodding toward her own nursling strapped to the father of Laotian Toddler. The two milk makers carry on for a while and the Laotian finally professed her true intent on invading Elusive Child’s feeding – to give thanks for feeding her child no matter the time or place. The Laotian bids her goodbyes and well wishes and jaunts back to her territory.

Dear Nursing in Public Mama, I may have creeped you out but you made my day!

How often have you seen random nursing mothers in public? What do you say or do, if you approach them?

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16 thoughts on “When a Breastfeeder Spots Another Breastfeeder in Public – a Rare Sighting in Mom World

  1. I can probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve spotted a mom NIP. One was at the museum of science and industry in Chicago last year. She was sitting right by an elevator on a bench, with no cover at all. I was so happy to see her. I sat right next to her with my daughter and smiled. I didn’t actually SAY I’m happy to see you BFing but I think she knew πŸ™‚
    Another time I was the Field museum in Chicago and a mom was BFing her toddler in a dark mummy exhibit. I also smiled at her.
    And hm… I think that might be the only 2 times I can remember for now. How sad is that? And I go out a LOT with my kids! We just went to the zoo and I saw ZERO moms Bfing their babies. I did see ALL moms bottle feeding. Again, I get it, fine. But many of these moms were formula feeding their TINY tiny babies. I can’t help but wonder, why? Did their milk dry up? Why aren’t they BFing??? I know it’s really none of my business, but it really does make me sad.

    Anyway I don’t really approach women when I see them BFing public but I do make eye contact and at least smile!

    • In my immediate circle of real-life contacts, I truly only know of a couple mom friends who breastfed in public and that was before I moved to Seattle. I too wonder why such tiny, tiny newborns didn’t have a chance at breastfeeding as I (and science) stand by that only a SLIVER of women truly cannot breastfeed, as hurtful or guilt-ridden that may be but it’s OUR biology. After all, many do not know that formula is actually the fourth last of infant feeding choices. :-/

    • Just because white liquid is in a bottle doesn’t mean it’s formula! I pump and put her mama-milk in her bottle for when we venture out of the Nest. Sometimes it’s not always convenient to breastfeed, and I usually end up on whatever path is most convenient. If it’s a situation where I can shove a boob in her mouth then I try to do that, but sometimes she gets the bottle. I’ve got ginormous milk jugs, so the only really comfortable position to breastfeed my kid is the side-lying position where we’re both lying down. Breastfeeding her in her sling is ok, but that means I can’t really wear a real bra with an underwire, and my cloth bras are semi-useless for support. So yeah, if her bottle runs out and we’re in public, I’ll suffer the underwire digging into my lymph nodes while my child gags on my let down while she’s hammocked in a sling. That is, if I remember the sling.

  2. My kid was pretty much exclusively on the boob for feedings and i would pump all the time in between, but it’s a constant struggle. She never lost any birth weight and has gained pretty steadily, but I do have to bottle her sometimes to “get it in her” because she’s a sleepy baby and won’t wake to feed. I got my period at 5 weeks postpartum if that tells you anything. There are times I run dry and i supplement with powdered goat milk, which again is a white liquid but leagues better than formula.

  3. I’ve only seen 1 other mom nurse in public that is not a friend or part of the breastfeeding-related activity that I am participating in. I would love to see another mom NIP so I could give her a thumbs up or tell her she’s doing a great job!

    • I hope you encounter one just so you get the chance to show your support. It’s about time some mamas get positive feedback for doing something with such stigma!

  4. I breastfeed in public, when I need to, with a nursing cover. I don’t encounter many mothers feeding their babies in public with either bottle or boob. (Or maybe I don’t notice?) Though if you ask me, bottle-feeders are just as defensive as breastfeeders …

    • I bet you don’t notice because ALL i ever see if moms bottle feeding. At the zoo recently I saw at least 3 or 4 moms preparing formula right there. Again it’s not the issue that moms are using formula, it’s that SO MANY moms are using formula and not BFing. That’s all. And that BFing is just not SEEN. IMO it’s not seen in public. And that is the problem. BFing in public will NEVER be normalized if everyone uses formula and no one BFs in public. If I could BF in public ALL over the place I would. For now I BF anywhere, anytime!

  5. I’m still reading back posts, still nursing my humdae and thought I’d add: I’m in public doing it. Oh and when I walk into the cafe there was another mama doing the same.
    Vientiane is NIP friendly compared to the US I guess!

    • The States are pretty nipple phobic; it’s ironic really. Although I will say that in all my 16 months of nursing in public (rare now that humnoy is older), I have yet to be in any kind of disapproval. I do surround myself with great support though so that’s gotta be something.

      Thanks for the comment from Laos!

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