It was just world breastfeeding week, or perhaps it’s world breastfeeding month. I’m not one to google mid-sentence while starting a blog post. In Austin, BF-ing is everywhere, so I don’t know that I’ve ever experienced the nursing shame that I’ve often shared links to on my Facebook page. Even still, I get so fired up when I read the viral letter from a gal on an American Airlines flight that got ‘tude from a stewardess for not covering up. Or the video of a couple at a rec center who was asked to leave simply because the mama was feeding the baby. They didn’t, and filmed the whole thing, so eff the management at that rec center for the discrimination.
I think the biggest argument people try to make that are…made uncomfortable for some reason, is that the mother who is breastfeeding her baby is being immodest in some way, and not considering those around her. Well, two points to this: A) there’s nothing about modesty that even comes into play with feeding a child. It’s non-sexual. She is not exposing herself to get a reaction from another person. And 2) that’s right, she shouldn’t have to consider those around her while feeding her baby. It’s not about anyone but the mama and baby. Sub-category i) while those boobs belong technically to mama, they are being leased to baby, and there is no co-signer of anyone else on that lease. They have no say, and should have no say about leche-time.
I remember when I first nursed EB in public. I had a hooter hider or whatever you call those things. A nursing cover, you know. I wondered if it was ok that I pulled up my shirt, exposing my ribs. I had never voluntarily flashed my chest in public (not even that one time at Mardi Gras) and it made my cheeks red when I fumbled trying to keep everything covered under the nursing cover. I had been to a La Leche League meeting when I was preggo and women just popped out chichis left and right, and I was slightly embarrassed for them. Did I look? Did I keep eye contact? Did I pretend the mama and baby didn’t exist for the 15 or so minutes she nursed? Then the more we talked about it as a group, I realized that covering up was a pain in the butt. Babies kicked off covers, hot from being in the Texas heat. They hated all of a sudden not being able to see, when at home, they could gaze adoringly at their mom, or check out what was going on around them.
I pretty quickly got over my discomfort, mostly because I had other nursing mom friends who didn’t cover when they technically didn’t have to. Then it moved to being out at places like Ikea or Half Price Books – our babies heads covered up most of the goods, so no one could really see anything anyways. I had a burp cloth if I wanted my kiddo to fall asleep, so I draped it through my bra strap and let it hang down over her head, or like in the photo from this week at the top of the post, I use my ring sling to both support Ans’ head as well as screen from distractions (for her benefit).
The point is, the more comfortable I got with being a mother, with knowing I was doing the very best job I could for them, the less I thought about the comfort of other people because I wasn’t doing anything wrong or shameful. I know I’m probably preaching to the choir as far as my blog readers, but I never can tell to whom I need to plead our case, or convince that one less thing in a diaper bag will make your life easier. I feel like if we normalize BF-ing, if non-parents get over the shock that boobs were meant for babies, not for selling sex. It’s neither gross nor immodest; it’s a wonderful way to connect.
A friend once told me that as a mother, there is nothing we need more than our bodies. She said, and I’m paraphrasing here, the womb grows the baby, the cooter brings it out into the world, the boobs feed them, and our arms provide a place to sleep. We are perfectly made to make and care for our Littles.
If you do want a nursing cover, because I understand that not everyone gets to level: Master Nurser on day 1, check out the nursing covers by Sara from Life in These Times‘ TheKeenBean Etsy shop! Cute and mama-crafted.
BF-ers unite! Yay Boobs! PS – I pumped this whole blog post. Bwahahaha.