When I was pregnant, I looked forward to the beautiful privilege of breastfeeding my baby. I admired the modest women at the park who gracefully slid their babies under soft muslin blankets to eat, or the strong confidence of the mama who didn’t need a cover at all. It was so natural, so lovely.
I knew that nursing would likely be challenging at first. Good friends, mommy bloggers, and books alike warned me of bad latches, cracked nipples, and plugged ducts. So I battened down the hatches and braced myself to push through the first four weeks.
Then the unexpected happened. My baby was born and she latched on very naturally. I didn’t experience any of the challenges that I was prepared for, and I immediately loved the bonding experience of breastfeeding my baby.
But my baby didn’t love it at all.
While at first she wanted to be at the breast any time that she was awake, within the first eight weeks she began to refuse it. She would act hungry, demonstrating all the cues evident of a hungry baby, then she would clamp her perfect little lips shut and lean as far away from me as possible when I put her to my chest. Supplementing with a bottle was out of the question as she became inconsolably furious when it was offered to her.
I was heartbroken. I was discouraged. I was confused.
Breastfeeding was as difficult as they had said it would be, but for so many reasons that I couldn’t have seen ahead of time.
We got to the point where we had to nurse my daughter when she was sleepy or completely asleep in order to keep her hydrated and gaining weight. We increased her night feeds and we prayed.
All of the squirming and active breast refusal made feeding our daughter in public next to impossible. We found lovely covers that I adored, yet she would rip the cover off as she frantically tried to squirm away from her next meal, destroying any ounce of modesty I had tried to make for myself.
As a result, I ended up retreating to single-user public bathrooms on more than one occasion to nurse, awkwardly balancing my baby as I attempted to keep her away from anything disgustingly germ-covered.
But this was seriously embarrassing at times. Other customers would urgently knock at the door, disturbing my highly distractable baby, who would pull off and fuss as I shouted out, “Just a minute please.” With red cheeks I would try to coax my daughter back to the breast, only to experience the knocking repeatedly throughout the nursing session. It was completely understandable, other customers had needs too, and I felt awful that I was taking up so much time. I blushed merely thinking of what they might assume is going on in there. But my baby’s needs came before my pride, and the more patient customers that knocked, the longer it took for her to finish a feeding. This usually ended up in me dejectedly carrying my still-hungry, milk-covered baby out of the bathroom and mumbling apologies to the line of frustrated customers who had hoped I would be done sooner.
Something had to change.
After one particularly frustrating feeding on a Starbucks bathroom floor, I pulled out my phone and started Googling breastfeeding signs. To my surprise, I found a variety of door hangers that were perfect for solving my problem! They were concise, polite, and a few had pretty designs.
These are a serious game changer, mamas. If you ever need to breastfeed or pump at work, church, or anywhere else in public, these signs politely let others know at the door that you are nursing a little human inside. When they realize you have a valid reason for taking up time in there, most people are understanding and will no longer disturb you, leading to a less distracted baby and a quicker and more peaceful feeding or pumping session.
You can find free nursing signs on Medela’s website or here at Motherlove.
However, I preferred to purchase a few from Etsy that were simple, yet pretty, that I could laminate and throw into the diaper bag before going out. The Milk Mommy’s Etsy shop sells a few of my favorites.
In the end, mamas, do whatever is best for your babies, but if your story is anything like mine and you find yourself tucked away in a Starbucks bathroom someday, these door hangers are super handy.