Really? Another article on breastfeeding? Why bother?
First, so I can learn to flesh out my thoughts on the matter. A week ago, I was hanging out with some friends whom I am VERY comfortable with. The topic of nursing in public came up, and when I tried to share my view, it was a jumbled mess. Usually I can think logically and express myself (somewhat) articulately. But this particular subject had me looking the fool.
And Secondly, I have a unique perspective. Everyone does. But I think my vantage point helps keep me from going the way of the nutter butters. I’m part liberal, part conservative.
Liberal: I’m one of those crazy attachment parenting advocates. I love natural birth, wear my baby/toddler around like an accessory, and I’m extremely pro breastfeeding. I also live in a crunchy/hippie town (Austin, TX) where there is never a dull moment. “Natural” is “In” here!
Now the conservative part: I’m a Christian who strives to be pure. Embarrassing fact of the day: I’ve only ever kissed my husband. Yup. It’s true. And we didn’t round any other bases til our wedding night. Call me crazy but I’m gonna do sex the way the guy who invented sex says will be most fulfilling.
I also believe in modesty. That’s a loaded word. I know. I’m not talking about a bunch of rules about the lengths of skirts or widths of straps. I am talking about clothing that reflects a humble heart.
So do I or don’t I wear a cover while breastfeeding?
1. I’m not smooth, especially in the beginning of the nursing relationship. Everything’s flopping, milk is spurting. I’d rather keep the antics to myself thanks.
2. I never wear nursing clothes. When I nurse in public, I usually have to lift my shirt WAY UP. I’m not ashamed of my belly or back, I just appreciate the extra coverage. It’s hot in Texas and I just don’t want to layer up.
3. I want it to be obvious what I’m doing. No, my toddler is not asleep in my arms. He’s eating.
4. I want to be approachable. It’s ridiculously common to see a stranger look at you squinting, then they suddenly realized you’re breastfeeding and turn away in horror. I’ve found that if I’m nursing without a cover, people think I want to be alone. Far more conversation happens when I have the cover.
5. I want people to know I at least tried to be discreet. As any mom who’s nursed longer than four months knows, babies don’t always cooperate with a nursing cover. It’s hard enough to keep my bottom lip on, nonetheless some flimsy piece of fabric that’s threatening to strangle me! BUT if you see my cover flying behind me like a cape, at least you know I gave it a go and that I’m doing my best to keep what’s mine mine.
6. Breastfeeding is intimate and precious. Don’t miss read me on this one. Any breastfeeding mother knows, nursing is NOT sexual, but it’s incredibly bonding. I’m sharing a part of me with my child that I don’t share with just anyone. I like stealing glances at my sweet boy and shading him from prying eyes. It’s like nursing is our little secret hid out in the midst of the crazy world and I feel the cover facilitates that.
Oh yeah, and there’s those times I don’t use a cover.
1. “I forgot my cover.” Sorry folks, we all can just get over ourselves. My kid is hungry and that trumps how uncomfortable all of us feel.
2. “I lost my cover.” Yeah, I’ve lost my cover three times. Same reasons as above.
3. “I’m wearing nursing clothes and this barely counts as a public place anyway.” Apparently sometimes I feel lazy. Or bold. Or both. (I had a bit of a skinny dipping phase in college. 😉 ) If I can nurse discreetly in pubic without a cover, I will. I’m just not very talented in the discreet department without the cover (or with it, who am I kidding.)
Honestly, no one has ever given me any grief about nursing in public, regardless of what I’m wearing. Also, I’ve only ever seen one woman making a display of herself while nursing. (Completely topless IN a swimming pool guarded by teenage boys. Ridiculous.)
My mom breastfed both my brother and me and ALWAYS spoke favorably of it. I never once considered not trying to breastfeed my own kids and I was blessed to be able to. Mom got me through those first painful weeks of nursing by telling me all the emotional wonderful moments I would have once I got the hang of it. She was right. Breastfeeding is wonderful and hard and intimate and feminine. I chose to do it in public discreetly, yet proudly.
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hi there. I truly loved ready this, you are a real, open-hearted lady, and I love that! The main reason I’m commenting isn’t because of the title, but because of one of the “Conservative” descriptions of yourself. I and my hubby of 9 yrs were the same way when we were dating… and when our pastor said, “You may now kiss your bride” to him on our wedding day, that was the first kiss I had ever received from a man… and by God’s grace, the same man I get to give kisses to “Until death do us part” 🙂 God’s way is the best way, and He heaps you under a load of blessings when you desire to trust and serve Him whole-heartedly every day.
Oh! And we don’t live too far from each other, we reside in San Antonio… so, perhaps we could meet up one of these days and I can see you nursing in real-life person, haha 😉
Nice to “Meet” you Julie.
Nice to “meet” you too Summer! That’s great about you and your husband! Yea to happy marriages! (I’m gonna go check out your blog soon!)
Such great writing and good thoughts! I like what your mom said about the first few weeks vs. the rest of breastfeeding. I wish someone had told me early on that it wouldn’t always be so difficult!
Thanks for reading Katey! I really value your opinion! Yeah, my mom was a great resource!
Wow Julie, thank you so much for articulating this. I always feel like I’m between a rock and a hard place when I’m nursing in public. Yes, I want to be modest. No, I’m not trying to make you uncomfortable but mostly my baby is hungry!
Priorities, right? If only we could do both!
I came to your site for the french bread recipe (which is in the oven and smells AWESOME btw). I liked how you write, so I read your bio…and realized you’re so much like me!!!! Like point-for-point the same. Spooky. I’m kinda crunchy too and I blog about breastfeeding…so of course I searched to see if you’d written about it.
This gem of an article sums up so much of how I feel about covering up. Right on, sister!! And my favorite part is “I’m not smooth” Oh. My. I laughed so hard during that whole paragraph. Mainly because that’s the perfect reason to cover up. I was never smooth either.
Thanks for this article, the viewpoint, the laughs. Most of all, thanks for being authentic.
Ha ha! Glad to have found a kindred spirit Nicole! Glad our paths crossed!