Usually, I wear a nursing cover.
And truly, they are great inventions. They have made it possible for so many more women (like me) to feed our babies in and out of the house without bottles, formula, and (hopefully) a hassle.
I’ve grown up feeling that modesty is a pretty big deal…though I admit that on more than one occasion, I’ve left the house in tighter pants and lower necklines than a preacher’s wife might approve. After all, the increase in attention from men is undeniable….and that attention is a high from which few young women (especially slightly insecure ones like me) can fully opt out.
So when it came time to breastfeed my baby girl with more than just my husband around, I didn’t hesitate to grab that cover and assure myself that good manners meant I needed to be “considerate” of the discomfort of those around me.
I still believe that good manners do mean consideration of the feelings of others.
But I’m not so sure I still believe breastfeeding should be dictated by those manners in particular.
Because maybe potential discomfort of the men and women around a mother breastfeeding her baby is about more than manners.
Maybe the frowns, blushes, stammers, glowers, stares, and bashful shuffles of in-laws and passers by don’t really need me to cover up.
Maybe they actually need to see.
To see a mom nurturing her innocent baby in the midst of an onslaught of images of war, disease, violence and hatred.
To see a woman’s breasts being useful and beautiful instead of used and sexual.
To see a feminine body confidently declare that she’s more than just a body. She’s a mother with the miraculous ability to nourish a person from her own body.
With so much thanks to Abby at www.thebadassbreastfeeder.com, I must share that I am beginning to believe they do need to see this. We all need to see this.
And so, I am pulling my chin up, straightening my shoulders, and coming right out to say:
I am going to start nursing without a cover.
And for your information, and my courage-reminding, here is why:
- Because breastfeeding is so natural, normal, and needed… and I believe our society may need to see more and more women breastfeeding naturally and normally in order to remember this.
- Because our world is way. too. full. of violence, disrespect, out-of-place sexuality, hatred, fear, and ugliness…and the innocence and beauty of breastfeeding might just be the safe and precious sight we never knew we always needed to see.
- Because public breastfeeding is a right, and I must exercise it to appreciate it.
- Because my baby has the right to eat without a blanket over her head (she has increasingly been making it known that she agrees with this!), and NOT in a restroom.
- Because it is actually probably much more discreet without the fuss and flailing limbs of trying to keep my baby under an unwanted cover while nursing.
- Because I want people to ask questions. Questions are the beginning. Questions are powerful. If people ask questions, people get answers…and things just might start to change. All kinds of things! Breastfeeding is a gateway- once you “feel the authenticity that comes when following your instincts”, you start questioning everything! (Thank you Jennifer Anderson from www.ourmuddyboots.com for that amazing phrase.
- Because I believe our society also desperately needs to see the normalization of “extending breastfeeding”, to realize that it not, in fact, “extended” at all…but rather normal, perfect, and so needed by our babies.
- Because I believe that a breastfeeding society is a society that places tremendous value on women. A breastfeeding society is a one where women are no longer seen primarily as sexual objects, but as multi-dimensional and powerful people, known for their life-giving, nurturing strength.
- Because the fears so many women have of toddler boys becoming sexualized by breastfeeding longer than a few months, and men and boys “seeing another woman’s breasts” will only be relieved by the men and boys of our society coming to understand that a woman’s body is about so much more than sex.
So, wish me luck! And if you see a woman who’s already being brave like this….do me a favor and tell her, “Thanks.”