Several weeks have passed since you brought your little one home, and the two of you are ready to leave your messy nest and venture out into the real world. Your diaper bag is packed: enough onesies for a month, check; diapers and wipes, check; soother, check; wallet, keys, phone, triple check. You eye the lightweight poncho your mother-in-law gave you “for modesty purposes,” and although you fully plan to breastfeed openly—free the nipple, baby!—you throw it in the basket of your stroller. Just in case.
Step 1: Find a very public space Before you’re ready to breastfeed in the middle of Christmas Mass, you opt for a different kind of new-mom church to begin your adventure: The mall. It’s perfect—it has air-conditioning, family washrooms and plenty of comfortable places to sit. Even better, you can hunt for new clothes, since your maternity clothes are too big, but your pre-preggers wardrobe is still too small. Off to shop you go!
Step 2: Find a place to sit You’ve timed the trip around baby’s nap, so you should have ample opportunity to scope out an empty armchair in the bookstore, grab a Harlequin novel and wait for your little one to stir. But baby has other plans. The second you walk through the front door of the mall, she’s wide awake and demanding to be fed. Loudly. Ready or not, it’s milk time, Mama! A recliner with back and elbow support is no longer an option. And, unfortunately, the only seat within eyesight is a hard bench that’s three-quarters occupied by a sleeping backpacker. It’ll have to do.
Step 3: Confidently expose yourself to strangers The last time you flashed someone was Spring Break 2003, and it’s time to channel that Girls Gone Wild spirit once again. It’s just a boob, right? But this time, you’re sober, your baby is screaming and there’s a four-year-old with a purple juice moustache staring at you from across the way. Breathe, Mama. You got this. Zipper down, bra clip undone, nipple out...you’re doing it! Feminism thanks you! But the moustache kid starts pointing and crying, his mom fires you an evil glare and you notice that the backpacker is creeping on you through a half-opened eyelid...
Step 4: Re-teach your baby how to latch It’s fine. You got this. But, suddenly, your baby has completely forgotten how her mouth and your nipple interact. She’s bobbing aimlessly, missing the target, covering you in drool and getting angrier with each failed attempt. You struggle to hold her wiggly body still with one hand and guide your nipple to her mouth with the other. She’s not having it. Her face scrunches up and turns bright red, and you wait, helpless, as the silent scream wears out and is replaced with a glass-shattering wail. The entire mall turns to look at the parent who is clearly abusing their child, and they find you—frantically bouncing your baby, left breast hanging out of your open shirt.
Step 5: Seek alternative options Boldness be damned. You lunge for the poncho and throw it over your head. The fabric tent traps the heat from both of your bodies and creates a sauna-like environment. You succumb to a full-body sweat. Your baby continues to squirm and bellow, and now you can’t even see her face. It’s time to abandon this mission. Dejected, you throw the baby on your hip and push the stroller toward the family washroom. When a teenager with a haircut like The Weeknd exits the single-stall facility, you shout “That’s for families!” right in his face. He shrugs and moves on. Once safely behind the locked door, you strip down to your bra and sit on the toilet. Baby latches like an old pro. It’s your turn to cry.
Step 6: Discover new motivation While she nurses, you grab your phone to vent to your partner and find a new text from your mother-in-law. It reads, “Have you used the poncho yet? Remember, modesty IS the best policy.” You grind your teeth. The best policy is minding your own damn business, Barb! You feel a renewed sense of determination. Drink up, baby girl. The two of you are about to head back into the wilderness, and you’re not going home until you’ve breastfed loud, proud and completely unencumbered by the expectations of others.
It’s boobie time.
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