Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Why I Nurse in Public

Since posting about my breastfeeding in church dilemma, I have been thinking a great deal about why I nurse in public, and about why I have always done so without a cover.

I nurse in public because I believe strongly that breastfeeding needs to be normal, and therefore needs to be accepted. I want to nurse in places where people will see me doing so, and will know what I am doing. I strongly believe in normalizing breastfeeding, and also in the good that I can do by being an example to other mothers and future mothers--and their husbands and sons.
With that said, I am a pretty modest person. I have never wanted to be flashing breast at anybody. I have always tried to keep my skin to myself when nursing in public, and used walls, layered clothing, and the baby's body as shields. I have used the tail of my sling a few times too. The reason I nurse without a blanket is that blankets are a hassle--they are heavy, stifling, and slip off.
On this topic, my dad shared this thought:
"I was always taught that modesty, and manners, are the art of making the next person comfortable. If the crowd is comfortable naked, then I guess naked is modest. But the principle is probably to do what the leaves the best taste in the audience's mouth, unless it contravenes God's commandments, and then to follow God."
 There is nothing like a blanket over your shoulder to shout "hey everybody, I'm nursing over here!" So in the interest of modesty (of not attracting undue attention), I felt that uncovered nursing was my best option.

I am now finding that perhaps my 'no cover' standard is in need of review. Bear loved nursing, held on with gusto, and was easy to nurse without much ongoing attention from me. I could get him latched on and then arrange my clothing so that nothing really showed. Eagle, on the other hand, is somewhat of a 'lazy' nurser--which is to say that he often loosens his latch on me, causing him to slip out to the end of the nipple. Sometimes he lets go altogether which generally results in a wild spray of milk in his face and/or down my shirt and/or across the room. Often he is distracted and tries to look around, sometimes he just seems bored with nursing. Regardless, I can't just hook him on and go, I usually need to make frequent re-adjustments, which requires me to use both hands and be able to see what I am doing. Even if I'd started with a blanket, and even if I tried really hard to pull it back into place regularly, it is quite inevitable that I'd still be flashing people. But even when I stick to my old standard--wearing layers and nursing without a blanket--I am finding that I'm not able to be so modest as I'd like to be.

So I am seriously considering purchasing a nursing cover. I am realizing that it fulfills both my goals--being very public about nursing, and keeping my skin to myself. Yes, it is one more thing to carry around, but who are we kidding, I already carry a diaper bag pretty much everywhere anyway. And as one of my always-used-to-nurse-uncovered-but-recently-converted-to-covers friends pointed out "I don't have to worry about pulling the whole breast out while I nurse...I use my cover now because it is convenient for ME. It is cool, covers me like a tent, and lets me nurse while enjoying sacrament and letting my baby get a nice little break. My stress level is lower. I can wear a wider variety of clothing. I don't have to layer as much. And, if I forget it, no big deal. I whip the boob out and no one is surprised."
There are several etsians who make nice covers with a stiff bit of boning around the top so that it stands out, allowing mom to see the baby while still keeping everybody covered. Sure, I could make something like that, but I'd have to buy special materials for it, so I'd just as soon get it from someone else.

<--- I kinda like this one. Nothing like a camo nursing cover to say "you can't see me, but you know I'm nursing over here!"

What do you think?

Dad did conclude with the comment "I guess you need to cover up, or move to Latin America or Eastern Europe, where folks are either more enlightened, or less inhibited."
Who's up for Norway?☺ heeheehee


Brian & Charlotte Carper said...

Cassandra does have a pattern for a hooter hider - I don't know if hers has something stiff in it or not. I love the last comment from your dad... sounds like something my dad would have said. hahaha

January said...

Rock on! Do what feels right to YOU! The important thing is that you are breastfeeding. And you need to be comfortable doing that wherever you want. :)

sara said...

In my own opinion - and in talking to other men - I am not into nursing covers AT ALL. I know the reasons for using one vs a blanket BUT here's my reasoning and I've had some very interesting discussions about it - I wrap my baby in a blanket and then latch him on. The blanket isn't draped over us but covers up my chest completely. You can probably figure out what I mean. A nursing cover or blanket draped over your shoulder is like a big neon sign that says HEY!!!!! NAKED BOOBIE UNDER THIS COVER!!! YES! NAKED!!!! BOOB! OVER HERE!!!!

The people I've talked to say it's still distracting and then it starts getting your mind going and making you wonder and you just can't stop thinking about the announcement that there is a naked boob right there under that fabric. (plus i think they look really really silly)

Micki said...

I'm with you on this issue. I feel strongly about breast feeding in public, and I'll do it wherever I need to. I've usually used a super light blanket to protect my modesty because my kids have often done the same things as Eagle. Breastfeeding comes first, modesty second, but I'd like to have both.

My SIL makes nursing covers but instead of using the boning she folds up a few layers of thick interfacing. It makes it stiff enough to still serve it's purpose, but it also collapses easier to fit in your bag. Let us know what you decide.

Jessica said...

This last summer we actually used the nursing cover for more than just nursing. We went to the lake and were able to make it into a changing "tent" too! My mom put the strap around her neck, put one of my kids under the cover with her (both pre-school age) and was able to change them into and later out of their bathing suits in complete modesty. The nursing cover also works well for covering the stroller as the boning portion is just heavy enough to stay on top and the drape part is big enough to cover the whole opening. It keeps out the sun, rain, or just darkens it so baby can sleep. I just love multi-purpose products!

Mallory said...

I have a nursing cover. I used to use it all the time, because Bug was difficult to nurse and popped on and off, plus I had to use a nipple shield for several months. But, I prefer to nurse without it now. I think as soon as babies are old enough to latch on and stay on without too many problems, and when they start getting really excited to nurse (and mad if you take too long getting ready) that a cover becomes a big hassle!

Kris said...

There are times I think I need to cover up and other times I feel good doing how sara said. There are certain places or people that I don't feel comfortable nursing in front of. I have nursed in church all the time, depends on where I am sitting or what part of church I am in. Sunday School, it is just too tight of space, that I don't feel comfortable nursing in there without a blanket. Most the time I go out to the Mothers room, mainly to get some space.
I do see points on both. I do think it is some what wierd when mothers go to the Mothers room and use a blanket or nursing cover. Im not sure why they do that. Most the time I do not use anything to cover, besides my shirt that I am wearing. And I am not showing any skin.

Benson & Sarah Garner said...

If you want to try one out for fairly cheap you can try Udder Covers - you can try them free using coupon code THANKS when checking out - all you have to pay is shipping (Which is $9.95) Theirs have the stiff neck but there are only 6 fabric options. It's worth looking into though!

~Aimee~ said...

I have a Hooter Hider and it worked really well. Until my baby hit 5 months or so and started fighting it constantly, pulling it up and in to his mouth, etc. So now I rarely use it for nursing. I end up nursing with layers, and then usually cover my baby's body (not his face or my breast) with a blanket that drapes over my lap, still keeping my tummy covered and distracting from the little (if any) flesh that is showing. What I DO use the cover for, though, is pumping when I'm at work! SO MUCH EASIER than trying to hide away from everyone, especially since the only 'private' room in the entire building is the bathroom (and I refuse to pump in there- gross). So it sounds like it would work fantastically for you.

Jenni said...

For what it's worth (if anybody is reading here, and curious...)

I did get the nursing cover. I used it once at home to try it out. Then I put it in my diaper bag for church...in the meantime (before it arrived) I'd worked out a system of pulling the blanket up (not over the baby, but up in front of him as a 'wall') and was pretty used to that, so I kept forgetting to fish the cover out of the diaper bag.
One day I remembered it, and pulled it out. My husband started laughing--he agreed with me that a big camo tent was anything but 'discreet' ;) Plus the baby pulled and tugged it every which way, and I either couldn't see him or we were both totally uncovered, plus all the extra fabric was a hassle.

I have not bothered with the cover since.

So, does anybody know anybody who would like a nice, practically new (used once and a half) nursing cover? It's kinda groovy, if you're into that kind of thing!

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