Google+ Authentic Parenting: NIP Scare Stories

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

NIP Scare Stories

Every so often, a horrible NIP story catches the attention of the media. Breastfeeding mothers get thrown out of restaurants, off busses, get shunned or called names. These stories are generally widely shared over the web among young mothers and generate heated debates among their readers about the ‘appropriateness’ of breastfeeding. They often end up inciting mothers to tell their own scare stories.

But what effect do these stories have?

Do they scare women out of breastfeeding in public? Do they make us think twice before we bring our baby to the boob? Aren’t they doing us more harm than good?
Having heard so many of these stories makes one wary of other people’s opinions. Makes us look around before we nurse our child and makes us fear the public opinion or face it with a defensive attitude.

Image: blmurch on Flickr

Aren’t these stories just creating collective fear about nursing in pubic?

Yes, there are people who behave negatively around breastfeeding mothers. Yes, these stories are true. Yes, almost every nursing mother can tell you of a negative experience while NIP.

But there are also the good moments. The stranger who passes by and smiles. The store manager who offers you a drink. The woman who walks up to you and tells you how great it is that you are nursing a toddler.

We don’t talk of these because we live in a culture of fear and negativity. Positive things don’t make the news. But they’re just as important. They do happen.

The thought of Nursing In Public shouldn’t instill fear. We shouldn’t be worried about people’s looks. We should only encourage each other to do so. Nursing in Public isn’t about public opinion, it’s about feeding your child, so don’t think twice.

And to my fellow bloggers: yes, we must react to negative attitudes towards breastfeeding, but please, give us the positive stories every once in a while too. Encourage mothers to NIP instead of scaring them out of it.

Have you had a positive NIP experience? Feel free to send your story to me: mamapoekie at yahoo dot com



  1. How about a funny one? I was nursing Ian in the Apple store tonight when he popped off and started crying. I was engaged in drooling over the iPad, not paying attention to him and just saying "it's ok, hold on" well, my boob was spraying milk everywhere...all over his face and even farther...onto the floor and the guy next to me! a squirt gun spraying. It sprayed up his nose, too.

    Ian was pretty angry, but the other dude just laughed. I made a puddle on the floor.

    No one else cared.

    Maybe everyone was too busy using the Apple store to get on Farmville and so they didn't care??? :D

  2. I am a peer supporter for La Leche League and volunteer at a local breastfeeding group. We have an antenatal session once per month, where pregnant ladies come and we do group discussions etc. The biggest worry that they share is about NIP; will they be able to do it discreetly, will they get any aggravation from people on the street, etc. I have never ever had a bad NIP experience, even though i fed my son until he was 26 months, but I know a few people who have.

    You're right, it's important to share the good moments as well as the bad. Knowing that fear of repercussions for NIP is such a huge stumbling block for expecting mums, its about time we started talking about the good stuff too! I think it would help matters hugely if womens partners were more enlightened about NIP. i know one couple in which the husband fiercely opposed his wife breastfeeding their baby because he was so anxious about her "getting her boobs out in public", as he put it. Sigh.

  3. Thank you for this. I was just discussing this with a friend the other day, and it often comes up when I am supporting mothers who have problems with breastfeeding - which often are not physical problems but actually psychological caused by factors such as this. For e.g. a mother may think of weaning her child way before he's ready, because he's at the age (9 months or so) when he is more distractible when feeding, making 'discreet' feeding more difficult in public.

    I have had much, much more positive experiences than negative, and I nursed my child in public till he was over two. I've never actually had a negative comment and I am a VERY sensitive person very much attuned to other people's reactions. I'm fortunate to live in a very liberal city where BF rates are higher than elsewhere in the UK but even so, there are always people with different attitudes. I remember once seeing two older women come up to me when I was feeding my baby on a bench.I flinched, expecting a negative comment, but they basically said, Well done for feeding your baby, and were very friendly. I've only had 'funny looks' once or twice, in coffee shops, and my child was WAY past the culturally accepted BF age, so it's understandable. On the whole my experience has been very positive, and believe me I have fed in every situation and place you can think of.

  4. I've never had a problem BFIP with my three, and I have never bothered about being 'discreet' - my children's comfort is far more important than what people may or may not see. I've tandem nursed, breastfed them in public up to 6 yrs old, bfd in every mode of transportation, walking down crowded streets, while giving seminars, etc, across 3 continents (none of which was North America though). I've generally had positive or neutral responses, one that comes to mind was when an old lady exclaimed "Now THAT'S what they're meant for"!

    I think a lot of it has to do with the way you project yourself, I give out an air of utter confidence when I BFIP and so people don't dare to approach to hint at anything negative, plus I've always had a line ready in case anyone said anything (which I've never had a chance to use). Whereas a mother sitting there feeling defensive or even ashamed has a higher chance of attracting comments.

    I've also always felt a duty to BFIP from an educational perspective, especially with an older child or tandem nursing.

  5. @Gug, your storie almost made me splash my coffee all over my macbook

  6. Amy, what was that line you had ready? :-)
    You are right, Mamapoekie, there are more positive NIP stories out there.
    It depends on us not to make an issue out of it, but just to do what comes natural!

  7. Ya, Gug, that was awesome.

    When I was a peer counselor for a WIC office in Texas last year, a client and I had met up at the mall because she was having some latch issues with her baby, and we were both closer to the mall than my office. My mom was with me (we were headed to have lunch) and I also had my almost 1 year old nursling in tow.

    We met up at a sitting area and nursed our babies side by side. I coached her on some different positions to try, and she was so relieved to have her baby nursing happily . . . when an older man walked by and asked my mother if we were her daughters. She replied that I was, and the old man said that he was so happy to see mothers nursing their babies. "That's the way every mother did it in my day, and to see those little feet kicking away while they're eating is just wonderful. Good for your young ladies."

    I just about cried, it was so sweet. I thought it was also very funny that he didn't talk to us, but to my mom. I guess he was being polite - didn't want to disturb us and our little nurslings. But I still tear up a little thinking about how genuinely happy that random old man was to see us breastfeeding.

    (And for the record, I was not using a cover, and my baby was wiggly, so that he wasn't "offended" like others can be by my cleavage showing was also a plus to this moment lol)


  8. i had nip-ed at my yarn store about a week before this story. I had my big (BIG) 2 month old son in my beco front carrier, fast asleep and was browsing the yarn when an older lady came and asked me how old he was. i told her "2 months" and she said, " i thought so, you feed him that good stuff, the sweet nectar. makes those babes grow up good and big. did you know the average time between nursing in mongolia is 15 minutes. there is no cry that can't be fixed by nursing. good for you." we talked for a while, i told her about my HWB and co-sleeping and the impracticality of strollers. She told me how nice it was to see a young mother embrace her power and really birth a baby.
    As we were walking away, the woman who owns the shop came over and told everyone about the time I NIP-ed last time I was there. How my boy slurped and grunted and moaned and then belched. Every single person in the shop congratulated me on nursing and having such a big boy! The owner of the shop said she even went home and told her husband about us!
    I love nursing and I will do it anywhere!

  9. I think most of my problem with NIP stems from these scare stories. I never dreamed anyone would think something was wrong with NIP before I started reading these stories in a BF book (although it turns out most of my family has a problem with it). *Sigh*

  10. How sad to hear that, Lisa C. Just know that there are truly many more positive experiences with NIP then there are negative ones, and the longer you are breastfeeding, the stronger you get and the more you become relaxed about it.

  11. You know, I have smiles and kind words, and my daughter is 22 months and still NIP fairly often, definitely at least a couple of times a week, and I've never really gotten anything negative. My daughter is tiny, closer to the size of a one year old at 20 lbs, so no one has noticed her being above the average age in the US to nurse unless they hear her talk, but even so, my experiences nursing have been almost all positive :)

  12. Well, that's exactly what I want to try and spread: NIP is more often than not really positive... we're just alerted by the overexposure negative NIP gets and it's sad if that scares mothers out of NIP


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