Book gives tips about breast-feeding in public

Sunday, October 16, 2005

NEW YORK -- A "thinking person" knows that breast-feeding is natural and helps babies meet their nutritional needs. A "thinking person" also knows that it's best to do what you can to put others around you at ease.

That's the case that editor Thomas P. Farley makes in the book "Town & Country Modern Manners: The Thinking Person's Guide to Social Graces."

The suggested "sensitive" guidelines for mothers who choose to breast-feed in public, according to the book:

* Wear something that will cover most of your breast when nursing. If your baby will take an occasional bottle, try to schedule that bottle at the time of day when you'll be in public together.

* Engage in a few moments worth of thoughtful observation and choose the best possible place to breast-feed. The ladies lounge of a department store or restaurant is ideal, of course. So is a corner table in a restaurant, where you can face your chair toward the wall.

* When with close friends or family, take into account what you know about them and try to anticipate what their reactions might be.

* Be gracious to people who seem to be having a problem with your public nursing. If you see them squirming, try to face the other way. If they approach you with a complaint, you might respond, "I'm sorry you feel that way. I'll try to be more discreet." Being a mother, after all, means you're in for a lifetime of pacifying people.

But, says Farley, under no circumstances should you compromise your child's well-being because you're embarrassed or afraid someone will make a disparaging remark. Your first responsibility is to your baby, and if your baby is hungry, your baby should be fed.

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