This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of 1 Natural Way, a TRICARE breast pump provider. All opinions are entirely my own.
With Wat Pho in the background, I whipped it out and fed my baby. We peacefully nursed, without a cover, on the muggy later summer day for around 30 minutes. I looked at the beautiful stupas and anticipated checking out the giant reclining Buddha.
You’d think that someone would have, surely, told me to cover up. To go somewhere private to nurse my infant. Thailand is a fairly conservative country and they prize modesty. We were in a sacred Buddhist place of worship too.
Instead, I got nothing. No snide remarks or comments. If people did glance my way, I got knowing smiles or saw them coo a little bit at my sweet baby.
These reactions were the norm – not the exception – as I traveled while breastfeeding my child throughout Asia.
In Seoul, we were routinely approached by South Koreans exclaiming over our cute children and their very blue eyes. Each time, they also remarked about the healthy size of my then 4-month-old baby.
“My what a healthy eater! Do you breastfeed?”
Each time I answered that, yes, I did exclusively breastfeed, their response was unfailingly positive.
“Ahhhh, he will be a healthy boy!” “He is a good eater and so big! You are doing a wonderful job.”
To be fair, I also pumped with a Medela Freestyle, which was 100% covered by Tricare with no cost to me. I got my Tricare breast pump accessories, including milk storage bags, from 1 Natural Way! 1 Natural Way offers Medela pumps, plus Kiinde and Spectra, with an easy to follow process.
As the Okinawan summer heated up, nursing under a cover seemed downright cruel. Just stepping outside made me break out in a heavy sweat. I simply couldn’t imagine covering my child for 30 to 45 minutes or more to eat. Even a light cover didn’t seem right.
So I started nursing sans cover-up. That’s right: I bare boobed it. Nobody said a word. I have never been asked to leave or cover up when nursing, indoors or out. It seemed as though I was part of normal everyday life: a mother feeding her child.
The response to my nursing style has been the same whether we were in Japan, Thailand or Vietnam. Either I receive kind, subtle support or I’m seen as a normal part of life, without any extra attention being sent my way.
Breastfeeding is supported everywhere.
In the United States, with my first child, nursing and pumping in public seemed taboo. I saw the eyes of other adults shift toward me with disgust or fear that, gasp, they might see some side-boob or a nip slip. I felt ashamed when children were around, wondering what their parents might say or imply about how I was feeding my child.
For all the talk about “breast is best,” the social support isn’t always there. I have never nursed without a cover in the U.S. I have pumped breastmilk and nursed a wiggly baby while balancing on a toilet, trying not to fall in or touch anything.
Knowing that could get my Tricare breast pump without any out-of-pocket expenses from 1 Natural Way did make the pumping experience easier. They contact your PCM and Tricare to make the process smooth and enjoyable for busy moms.
At the airport in Seoul, there In Asia, there are special rooms for nursing mothers almost everywhere. From the airports to the local zoo, breastfeeding and pumping mothers can seek sanctuary and peace.was a mini-suite for parents and babies. Plush changing stations with handy trash cans were available. There was even a bottle warming system with filtered water! Best of all, there was a quiet room with a comfy chair and, miracle of miracles, a nursing pillow.
The local Okinawan zoo has a special air-conditioned room for nursing. There are quiet, tucked away stalls in the aquarium here too. At the airports in Hoi An, Bangkok and Tokyo, there are more cozy and private places to feed my baby.
Even though the nursing rooms are there, it’s not to hide away mothers and babies. Instead, it’s to offer a clean, quiet place to relax while feeding your child, a space to clean your bottles, an outlet to power your Tricare breast pump or somewhere to comfortably change your baby.
Nursing publicly used to make me nervous.
A thousand questions would shoot through my brain:
- Would the baby latch?
- Would the cover be enough?
- Were there going to be angry stares and glares this time?
- Was this bathroom going to be clean?
In Asia, I’ve never had those concerns. I’ve never been afraid that breastfeeding my child in public, with or without a cover, would be anything other than accepted. Whether I’m at my local cafe or on the train to Kanchanaburi, I have felt secure and confident in my mothering choices.
I’ve watched elephants graze feet from us, gazed at turquoise waters, admired golden stupas and listened to the busy sounds open-air marketplace, all while nursing my baby.