The Way My Non-Mom Friends Reacted To Breastfeeding Shocked Me

When I got pregnant at 21, I was by far the first of my friends to have a baby. While most of them were still going out every Friday night and dating, I was married with a baby to take care of – a baby that I could never leave at home because I was breastfeeding. My friends always wanted me to come to parties and events and lunches, and encouraged me to bring my son, but I was always nervous that they didn’t get what that really meant. It was extra work for me to bag up all his gear, get him loaded in the car, and then care for him throughout the outing.

And without a doubt there would come a time when I would need to breastfeed my son, and the truth is, I wasn’t sure how my friends would react. I didn’t want to spend a party relegated to some back corner of the house, the way I often was when visiting relatives. Being sent away for breastfeeding was always a stark reminder that my life was no longer my own, that I first had to meet the demands of my baby. It felt like I wasn’t allowed to be a full participant in my own life, because there were societal limitations of when and where a baby was appropriate, and feeding time wasn’t one of them.

However, the thought of openly breastfeeding didn’t make me feel at ease either. I didn’t want to make everyone uncomfortable by publicly breastfeeding. While I knew that there was nothing wrong or shameful about it, the truth was I was still getting the hang of it, and I wasn’t confident enough to simply whip out a boob anytime anywhere, least of all around people I knew who didn’t have kids.

It seems silly to me now, three babies later, but the insecurity I felt about public breastfeeding was very real in those early months with my first son. If was a constant source of stress for me and I was, against better judgment, very concerned with everyone else’s comfort level. But, on the first occasion I decided to bring my son out with my non-mom friends, I was shocked by the way they reacted.

While me and my son were cruising around a party, full fellow of 20-somethings, he started to get fussy. I tried to soothe him with his pacifier, gave him a bottle I knew he would reject, bounced him on my shoulder but to no avail.

“What’s the matter?” one of my friends asked him in a baby voice.

“I think he’s getting hungry,” I said sheepishly.

“Well, whip a boob out,” she said. “Feed that baby.”

I found a comfortable chair in the quietest corner of the party, and fed my son. To my surprise, some of my non-mom friends circled by and came to talk with me as if nothing was amiss (well, obviously, nothing was). All of my nervousness over needing to breastfeed my son had been for nothing. My friends were completely accepting and encouraging, offering to get me water and snacks while I had a baby hanging off my boob. I had friends joke about making White Russians for the party (boobmilk makes the best ones, don’t you know!). It was no big deal.
Once my son was fed he was much happier, and I was much more at ease, not just for the rest of the party, but in general. I now knew that I could bring him with me and breastfeed whenever I needed to. Sure I might get the side eye from a stranger every now and again, but I knew my friends would be around to support me and normalize me whenever I needed them to.

Now I am breastfeeding my third child, and many of those “non-mom” friends are breastfeeding mothers themselves. There is no stigma around breastfeeding, no one who feels uncomfortable staying in the room and chatting when they have to breastfeed their baby. All our get togethers are brimming with babies, and no one would have it any other way. Our parties are full of boob-talk and breastfeeding babes, and lots of White Russians (jk!), and that’s just the way I like it.