I’ve always been a fan of Alyssa Milano. She’s a great actress, she’s definitely the best host “Project Runway: All Stars” has ever had, and she has a fantastic line of NFL apparel for women. But after her recent interview on Wendy Williams’ talk show, during which she strongly advocated for a woman’s right to breastfeed her child in public, I have even more respect for her. Now, every time I nurse my son in public, I have Alyssa Milano’s voice as my inner monologue, cheering me on.
In fact, recently, my newborn and I ended up spending two hours together at our local tire shop to fix my low tire. This trip, of course, put a complete crimp in my plans for the day, and, as expected, my child needed to eat in the two hours we were at the shop. I tried my best to be discreet as I nursed him. I put him under the nursing cover twice, and both times, he kicked and thrashed and refused to latch. I stood behind a tire display, but that was just comically awkward. Finally, after four failed attempts to nurse my child without anyone in the store seeing my breast, I gave up. I sat down on a comfortable chair in the waiting room — which had four other people in it —discreetly took out my breast, and nursed my child. Wouldn’t you know it, at that exact moment the technician approached me for the first time in an hour and a half to talk to me about my car. Great timing.
But then, the funniest thing happened: We had an actual conversation. He looked me in the eyes, told me what was going on with my tire, and then went back to work. There was no awkwardness, no embarrassment. He just did his job, and I did mine. I think Alyssa would be incredibly proud of me, and this incident has convinced me to forgo my nursing cover and feed my child openly.
Believe me, I would much rather be on my couch watching “Parks and Recreation” than nursing my child in an auto repair shop. But my life cannot stop because I have a newborn. For the first year I nursed my older son, I was so much quicker to excuse myself to feed him. At parties, I’d go into another room; at restaurants, I’d find a private spot to take him. Now that I’m on my second go-round with breastfeeding, I’m far less patient. Also, with all that we know about baby blues and postpartum depression, it seems to me that one of the worst things we can do to a new mother is isolate her by sending her to her car or an empty, lonely room.
I have watched Alyssa Milano’s interview with Wendy Williams about a dozen times now. I absolutely love how Alyssa firmly and confidently refutes Wendy’s opposition to breastfeeding in public. But what absolutely astounds me about the entire interview is that I cannot believe we are still having this conversation. It’s 2016, after all. Just recently, research was released saying that 800,000 children’s lives can be saved through breastfeeding. Even “Sesame Street,” in the 1970s, taught children that breastfeeding is natural and good for babies. So why do people like Alyssa Milano still need to defend their choice to openly feed their children?
My child is only four months old, but I’m done covering him up. He hates the cover, so I’m done with it. I promise, though, that when I nurse my child, I will do everything I can to be discreet. I will wear my nursing tops as often as possible to make sure that only the smallest fraction of my nipple is exposed. I will turn my back or position my child’s head in a way so that you will see practically nothing. But I will also make my child as comfortable as possible so he can eat a full meal and not become fussy and cranky. Every time I nurse in public, I hope I can do my part to normalize breastfeeding and encourage other nursing mothers to do the same.