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Breastfeeding on the Double-D Train

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Guest blogger Ronda Kaysen: NYC moms celebrate World Breastfeeding Week in a very unusual way. All aboard!

Where's the worst place to nurse a baby in New York City? The subway. It's crowded, there's no privacy, and people stare just because they're bored.

None of those inconveniences stopped a gaggle of nursing moms from hopping on the A train in Washington Heights last week and riding it all the way to Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn (about an hour-and-a-half ride). The public nurse-in was a kickoff for World Breastfeeding Week and culminated with a rally in Brooklyn.

The Mom Riders used the annual ride -- it's happened every year since 2004 -- to bring attention to the Breastfeeding Bill of Rights, a bill that passed the New York State Assembly but stalled in the state Senate because doctors' groups worry it will interfere with doctor-patient relationships.

The bill affirms that moms can room-in with their newborns, refuse bottles and formula at the hospital and be informed about the effects medications might have on breastfeeding. Most of these "rights" are already on the books, so the new law is something of an exclamation point. But moms say it's a much-needed one.

Would you breastfeed on the subway?

next: Tot Abandoned at Wal-Mart
62 comments so far | Post a comment now
Danika August 6, 2008, 10:45 AM

If my daughter was hungry? Absolutely! :)

Anonymous August 6, 2008, 12:09 PM

I try not to breastfeed in public as a general rule but if I get stuck by an unexpected delay sometimes I have to. I generally keep welll covered with a breastfeeding shawl or papoose sling and if someone is sitting quite close I ask them if they mind. I say “I am so sorry I know my baby’s crying is probably not fun to listen to would you mind if I go ahead and feed him so he will be quiet”. I have not had one single no in all the years that I have been breastfeeding my children. The people I run into would rather me do anything to quiet the baby rather than just sit there with a screaming child on my lap. I think if someone actually said no to my request I would either wait to feed my baby or move to another seat and try again. My child will not die from waiting a few minutes to eat and I feel we have to find a balance between our right to breastfeed in public and other folks right to have their “hangups” reasonably respected. The subway is a very public place and there is almost no escape for people who have serious issues with the human body. I try to have empathy for them while at the same time caring for my child. I think there is a balance that can be found to take care of everyones needs.

Summer August 6, 2008, 2:57 PM

Of Course… I would tandem feed my twins. If they’re hungry.. they’re eating.

Lisa August 6, 2008, 3:47 PM

Amen!! I am also a breastfeedling mother of twins! We seem to be the only country in the world saturated with porn and people with hang-ups over breasts!!! Breasts are for feeding babies and the immune system that goes with breastfeeding is the best benefit!

lavortiz157 August 7, 2008, 7:42 AM

Being a new yorker born n raised I have breast fed my son on the train! Of course I’m covered up properly, but sometimes its not for my son. Whenever I feel engorged and I know that I have an hr to get home, I’d take my baby and just have him latch on. I tried pumping on the train (again cuz I was just that engorged and it hurts) and I found that that’s when people looked @ me even more. (Of course I was covered up a little bit more)

Shelly O. August 7, 2008, 9:22 AM

I have two boys, one age two and the other age one. My older son Adrien refused any and all attempts at breastfeeding, my belief is because the nurses popped a bottle into his mouth whenever he was hungry instead of bringing him to me as requested. However, my youngest, Jordan, refused to not breastfeed. At times I would find myself on the train, in New York, Jordan hungry and looking at a long train ride home. I didn’t care if people wanted to stare, my son took first priority, so out whipped the breast with a blanket for a semblance of privacy and away he nursed. I am proud to say that he nursed for his entire first year, only recently beginning to be weaned.

birdsfly August 7, 2008, 11:27 AM

Shelly O. I hope I have your situation! My first son never latched (EVER!) I believe also because of the nursing staff. I never got the proper let down and pumped solely for three months to suppliment his formula (which… ouch). I’m pregnant with me second and I’m so worried he won’t take to feeding! I’m hoping if maybe I find more support for this time it might work.

Lori August 7, 2008, 11:56 AM

I can’t understand why anyone would be offended by seeing someone breastfeed their child. It is one of mother natures most wonderful gifts. I can’t believe that if our society is so conditioned to seeing sex on tv that breastfeeding would even be an issue. Did anyone ever see the issue of babytalk magazine that featured a baby nursing on a naked breast? I was thrilled. What courage that company had eh? However, I do believe in modesty and that the nursing mother should be discreet. I used to nurse my daughter at the dinner table in restaurants. I never received a stinky eye from anyone. The type of wrap I used was so fashionable that often times people were shocked to see a baby emerge from underneath. They thought it was a shawl!

michelle August 7, 2008, 12:44 PM

I also was neber able to nurse my oldest,I pumped for two months. I have succesfully nursed my second and third chld and most people don’t ever even realize I’m doing it until the baby pops out to burp. I’m pretty modest but my children refuse to have blankets over their heads while they eat(can you blame them?) so I just wear feading friendly shirts, fortunatly for me the front crisscross shirt is still in style. Good luck to the mommy who is looking forward to nursing baby # 2, you can do it just don’t give up, just because it’s natural doesn’t mean it’s easy. Good job to all the mommies and daddies who are doing the best they can and providing nourishment for their children.

Rrika August 7, 2008, 1:47 PM

Go, Mommy! I am sooo proud of them and yes I would bfeed my baby on the train and anywhere else if my baby is hungry. I am proud of that. Yes, there are people out their that are not cool with the idea about a mother bfing but they will look at my crazy either way if I am nursing or not. So, for all of you mothers that feel comfortable with bfing whenever or wherever I Love You.. Go Mommy

joia August 12, 2008, 6:19 PM

What has this world come to??? Why should we be ashamed to feed our babies the way nature intended? Why do we need laws to protect us and why are women made to feel embarrassed to feed their babies the normal, natural way? Of course I would feed my baby on the subway or anywhere else my baby wants to eat. Why wouldn’t I? Breastfeeding is NORMAL.

Anonymous August 14, 2008, 12:26 AM

When my daughter was born, my boyfriend went out to celebrate our anniversary when she was 3 months old. In the restaurant, she got hungry so I fed her, when a really stuck up looking woman came over and asked if “I minded doing that in the bathroom” I was pissed! I just said, “Look, you don’t eat your dinner on the toilet, why should she?” She shut up pretty fast. I hate living in the freaking bible belt.

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