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Cross-Cultural Comparisons of Breastfeeding in New York City

I was sad to read an article today about a woman who was asked to move to a dressing room because she was discreetly breastfeeding her baby in the seating area of the American Girl store right here in New York City. It definitely got me thinking about what I would do if put in that situation and the overall views of breastfeeding in New York. I can’t say I have seen many moms nursing their babies and I myself struggle not to feel weird about it.

That said, the public response to breastfeeding in my city has really made me rethink my feelings. Why is feeding my baby something I am made to feel awkward about? I personally choose to use a nursing cover but with the recent heat-wave and my squirmy baby, it can be difficult! Aiden pulls at the cover and I can tell he isn’t too fond of it. So, for women who choose to nurse in public without a cover, I say… good for you!

I was recently at a baby shower for some friends who are Indian. The women sitting around me fell absolutely in love with Aiden! They passed him around and at first I got nervous but he was so comfortable and happy in the arms of an older woman at the party. When he started to get hungry, I put my nursing cover on and nursed right at the table. I still feel uneasy nursing in public, like I am being watched… but I go ahead and do it anyway! When I finally had the nerve to look up and make eye contact with people, I got smiles and encouraging nods from the women around me. It felt really good and immediately I realized that breastfeeding is not viewed the same way in other cultures as it is in America... Or at least in New York City.  

American women are known for being strong, multi-taskers who are successful both inside and outside the home. Supermoms, Corporate Giants, Brain Surgeons, we can do it all! New York City women are known for doing it all while looking fabulous and wearing stilettos. So what’s the deal with breastfeeding? Why can’t it be just as fabulous?