Nursing is best for a traveling baby

This, sports fans, is a nursing baby from one foot away (Scarborough photo)I’m a lactivist, big-time.

As someone who breast-fed my daughter for almost a year and my son for a year and a half, you don’t think that Sainted Husband and I sat at home all that time, do you?

Sure, we traveled, and you can, too.

In fact, at four weeks postpartum with each of my kids, I thought I’d lose my mind if I didn’t get out and go somewhere, so we hopped in the car and drove to New York (once from the Washington DC area and once from Portsmouth, RI.)

My Mom was appalled; in her day you stayed home, partly for fear of germs. I knew that a breast-fed baby has better immunities than a bottle-fed baby (only one of many benefits) so I didn’t worry. My own Mom nursed me for awhile, but she didn’t get much support back in the very early 1960’s so it didn’t last long.

During those trips to Gotham, I popped my baby into a sling and we walked all over NYC. We met a friend for lunch in Greenwich Village, we splurged for scandalously expensive stuff to eat at Dean and Deluca, we checked out the Empire State Building and Ellis Island and we walked through parts of Central Park. With my second child, the baby and I hung out while my daughter and husband ice-skated at Rockefeller Center.

At various times during all of that activity, I sat down somewhere and nursed the baby. Thanks to the comfy, well-made nursing tops from Motherwear, I just positioned the baby, opened or lifted one of the openings on my shirt (after figuring out, “Are we going with the left side or right for this feeding?”) got the baby latched on, tucked the fabric around and sat there, relaxing and looking around.

The first go-round with public nursing, I was a nervous wreck. Why is it that you can go to the mall and see humongous blown-up photos of writhing, half-nude models at Abercrombie and Fitch, but a 31-38 year-old Mom feels strange nursing her child in the mall Food Court?

I had Sainted Husband do recon. He went across the mall area from where I sat and walked back and forth to see if anything was “hanging out.” Nope, I looked like a Mom holding a sleeping baby.

Seafarer in her nursing jammies at home -- this is what a nursing baby looks like (Scarborough photo)That’s why it’s so important for mothers to have a supportive partner when nursing; we do so much in isolation in the modern world, and it’s nice to have people around you as cheerleaders.

Once I went to a few La Leche League meetings and sat around a roomful of nursing mothers, I got over my nerves.

When you travel with a nursing baby, his or her food is always ready to go and it’s the right temperature. You aren’t lugging bottles and nipples (well, not plastic ones) and formula and worrying about heating or sterilizing anything.

The other thing I learned is that a nursing session forced me away from my quasi-ADHD running around and gave me time to just sit down and be with the baby, especially on a trip.

When the baby and I would both get cranky and fussy, my husband would say, “Why don’t you sit down and nurse the baby? You’ll both feel better.” He was absolutely right.

This is Sainted Husband and one happy, snoozing baby (Scarborough photo)So what brought this up, since my kids are now 8 and 15? Tech guru Robert Scoble, that’s who.

He’s a new dad (welcome to his son, Milan, named after the Italian city) and in his recent voluminous blogging and Twittering about his son’s birth and new life, he wrote that he and wife Maryam are nursing parents and he’s proud of it.

I may not be able to match Scoble in Web insights or influential tech trend analysis, but by golly I can sure speak to this topic. I also thought that people should see real photos of a real, live nursing Mom to try to remove some of the squeamishness out there.

Sure, you’ll probably have to scale back the super-ambitious travel for awhile and stick to short road trips or short flights — no one’s saying that lugging baby junk and dealing with a squirming infant or toddler doesn’t make travel a lot more challenging.

If you’re nursing, however, you have one less thing to worry about. You know where the baby’s food is and you know it’s good stuff.

Get a sling or two….they keep the baby comfy and happy and close to you, and your hands are free, unlike a stroller. I was able to nurse a baby carried in a sling and keep walking around, with no one the wiser, even the exuberant young male Gap employee in New York who came up and said, “Oh, a new baby!” and tugged a bit on the sling for a better view. Suddenly, he figured out what he was viewing, and I assure you that he was a lot more embarrassed than I was.

So nurse that baby and hit the road, even for a two-hour trip to your local park. You CAN do it!

Technorati tags: travel, family travel, nursing, breastfeeding