Is it right to take baby to a wedding where kids aren't allowed?
Credit: Linzie Hunter

Q. I was invited to a good friend's wedding where kids aren't included. I'm nursing, and I don't want to go unless I can take my baby. Who's right -- and what's the best way to handle this?

A. I'm going to make two assumptions. First, that your good friend doesn't have a child yet. For that very reason, she may perhaps be less than able to understand the bond between a nursing infant and her mother. Second, that you are devoted to breastfeeding, which may be making you more militant than you probably need to be in this instance. Listen, I nursed both my sons for a year each. You won't find a bigger breastfeeding cheerleader than me, outside the gals in the La Leche League. That said, I also have the perspective to see that even a mom who is exclusively nursing can, and often must, find ways to spend a little time away from her baby.

To return to your question -- who's right? -- I'm going to have to straddle the fence and say neither of you is right because it's not a question of right and wrong. Your friend is perfectly justified in not wanting to include kids at her wedding; they can change the nature of the event. Wanting an adult party is her prerogative as a bride-to-be. On the other hand, why should you have to choose between your child and attending your friend's wedding?

I suggest a two-pronged approach to handling this. First, evaluate what kind of wedding it is. A casual daytime affair? A swank Saturday-night do? Something in between? That will have a bearing on whether you want to bring your baby, or whether it would be practical to do so. Second, talk to your friend straight-out about your dilemma. Don't dive in with an expression of annoyance. Instead, tell her you're in a pickle here. You really want to be there for her big day, but you're nursing round the clock; you and the babe are attached at the boob. Might she make an exception so you can bring the baby? See what she says. She may not have realized that you're not one of those parents who wants to bring the kids just because she can't be bothered to get a babysitter, and she may agree that one nursing infant won't alter the tone of her gathering. But even if she refuses, you have options. Might there be a way to, say, attend at least part of the wedding -- whatever portion of the festivities will fit between feedings (presuming the event is close enough to home)? Or might you simply consider leaving the baby home with your mom or other trusted surrogate, with a bottle of expressed breast milk? You might have to (discreetly) bring along your breast pump and do a quick pumping in the ladies' (I've done it -- it's not such a big deal). Be honest with yourself too: Wouldn't it be kind of nice to put on a pretty dress and get out for a few hours? Good luck.

Copyright © 2008. Used with permission from the February 2008 issue of American Baby magazine.

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