Let me tell you a story.
There once was a new mother, sitting in the corner of a crowded restaurant with her tiny baby clutched tightly against her chest. She glanced around the room sheepishly as her baby rooted and fussed looking desperately for the comfort only her mother could supply. The mother nervously slung a thin sheet over her shoulders and covered her baby. She fiddled around with the clasp to her nursing bra trying to unhook it and then quickly attempted to latched her baby on to her breast.
For a moment, everything was right with the world. The mother, continued to scan the room to make sure no one was watching her or upset by the fact that she was feeding her baby. But the baby was quiet and comforted and nursing.
Then all too soon, the inevitable struggle began. The baby began to bite down and arch her back. She kicked and fussed and pulled at the blanket. The new mom was sweating, the baby was sweating. They were both uncomfortable and red faced from the effort of it.
So frustrated and defeated she asked the waiter to box her food for her. She paid her bill. Then carried her frustrated, fussing, confused baby to her car. When she finally reached the car, she climbed into the front seat, baby in hand, turned on the car, cranked the AC, and sat there crying as she nursed her baby in her car. Her only thought…
“Why is this so hard?”
When you have children, you find out very quickly that EVERYONE will have an opinion on what you should do with your baby and how you should do it. One of the biggest debates that you’ll see on birth boards and parenting pages (outside of the crazy ass vaccine and circumcision debates) is if a mother should cover herself and her baby while breastfeeding out in public.
It would seem that having a breast, partially exposed, for the sole purpose of feeding a child can really ruffle some feathers out there.
The big arguments that you will see is that 1) “Nobody wants to see that!” 2) “I don’t want my children or husband exposed to that.” 3) ” You just want to show off or prove a point,”
Well guys… I’m a rebel.
I openly breastfeed my children while I am out in public and refuse to use a cover or hide the fact that my children are human and need to eat from the one body part on the human body designed specifically for the purpose of curing that hunger.
I know… I’m a terrible human.
Where it all started.
When I had my first child, I was that new mom that was concerned about nursing in public. I was the mom being told by family to cover up, to keep the process of feeding my baby a private matter because it should be a private intimate moments between and baby and mother. I was the one worried that I was going to offend someone or have someone confront me about the fact that I needed to feed my child while I was out in public. I felt like I had to hide away in a room or my car or fight with her to say covered until both of us were frustrated and crying.
It wasn’t until I had my third child that I had the courage to nurse my child in public… UNCOVERED… for the first time.
The first time I fed my baby in public, uncovered was in a restaurant. It felt so liberating…so freeing. I was nervous, admittedly, and so I kept peeking around to see if anyone was watching me or annoyed at what I was doing. Do you know what I found, though, not a single person even noticed or paid me any attention.
Nope.. no one cared.
That started the long road of public breastfeeding I’ve been on for essentially the last 6 years.
Women are still shamed for openly breastfeeding in public and sadly, I don’t see an end to that any time soon. In the United States especially, there seems to be an unhealthy over sexualization of the female body… especially in relationship to breasts. We see images everywhere of half naked women parading around in sexy lingerie or bikinis or topless covering themselves with their hands or their arms. We are taught at a young age that our bodies are pretty much solely meant for pleasure and that unless we want to attract attention, or unless we want to be sexualized, we need to be “modest” and keep our breasts covered.
Modesty seems to be and ongoing theme surrounding breastfeeding. Using our breasts for their intended purpose (BREASTFEEDING) is considered disgusting. We are told that we need to cover ourselves and our babies. We are told that we are exhibitionist or just looking for confrontation or to seduce someones husband by breastfeeding openly. Or that we just have some point to prove.
Luckily, we have the law on our side. It took until 2018, but finally, breastfeeding is now legal in all 50 states! Australia, the United Kingdom, and other countries have had laws in place fore a while protecting breastfeeding but finally the U.S. caught up and is finally protecting mothers in ALL states. The hold outs were Idaho and Utah and they still have some of the most restrictive breastfeeding laws but it’s better than nothing at all I guess.
Most states say that you can openly breastfeed in any place that you are legally allowed to be, no matter if that place is public or private and that it is not considered indecent exposure for the nipple to show during this process. This means, that in most states, you cannot be harassed for openly breastfeeding. People cannot ask you stop breastfeeding or to tell you cover yourself and to this point, store and restaurant owners cannot ask you to leave or to refuse to serve you while you are openly breastfeeding. I highly encourage you to check the laws for your state though. For information on your state laws, check the link here.
No I’m not on display
I want to first say, I’m sorry to all of those people who seem to think that breastfeeding is being done solely for the purpose of seducing your husbands. Sadly, when I’m breastfeeding my baby, I’m not thinking about your husband at all. All I’m thinking about is supplying nourishment and comfort to my crying or hungry child. And to be honest… your husband probably isn’t even my type so… you can keep him.
I’m not one of those people who wants to make a big production out of something that is simply meant for function. If I wanted to flaunt my “big old bobbies”, as my husband calls them, I would wear a plunging neckline and a sexy bra. Trust me, breastfeeding is not in the least bit sexy and I can make them look way better when I’m NOT nursing. I’m not out to make a statement or get a rise out of people. I’m simply feeding a baby. Just like the mom who is giving her baby a bottle.
To the person who thinks I should be modest just for modesty sake… it’s not a point of being modest. You’ll see less of me while I am breastfeeding than you would see if I’m at the beach in a swimsuit. Most people don’t even realize I am breastfeeding until they are right up on top of me. And if you are standing that close, you better be related to me or asking to take my order.
Finally, breastfeeding while covered is hot. I live in a very hot and humid state so having a hot sticky baby pressed against me under even a light weight blanket can lead to both of us overheating and being uncomfortable. If I’m in Disney or outside… that’s just miserable.
I completely understand and support the women who are more comfortable breastfeeding while covered. Women should feel comfortable and empowered enough to feed their child in any way they see fit. So if you want to use a cover, if you want to breastfeed in a quiet secluded area, if you want to breastfeed openly, or if you want to use a bottle while you’re out filled with breast milk… that should be your choice and no one should make you feel pressured into doing something to make that other person feel more comfortable. In the end, the only concern that you should have is about the comfort level and needs of you and your child.