Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding Uncovered – A Peaceful Protest

24 Comments 19 July 2010

Welcome to The Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival!
This post was written as part of The Breastfeeding Cafe’s Carnival. For more info on the Breastfeeding Cafe, go to www.breastfeedingcafe.wordpress.com. For more info on the Carnival or if you want to participate, contact Claire at clindstrom2 {at} gmail {dot} com. Today’s post is about nursing in public. Please read the other blogs in today’s carnival listed below and check back for more posts July 18th through the 31st!



I used to think of myself as a modest woman.

But motherhood has changed me.

I’ve transformed into a raw and more uncensored version of myself. The time it takes to wonder what the world thinks about “little old me” is now considered a tremendous waste. I’ve learned, through the unexplainable love for my daughter, how very important time is.

Low cut shirts always made me feel uncomfortable. Too revealed. Too sexy. And at the beginning of my daughter’s life, pulling my shirt down and the momentary chance of my nipple’s exposure made me sweat.

My, how things change. How I have changed…

Ella watched me with anxious delight as I pulled my tank top under my left breast.

Squinting her eyes tightly, she giggles and nearly shouts, “mama!”

That’s what they’re called – they’re so much of what I am to her.

My 17 month old daughter latches on and begins suckling happily, little hands cupped around her meal. Eyes gazing into mine.

The sun shines on our faces, and a soft wind plays with her baby-hair curls.

I breathe deep, straightening my back towards the sky from my previously hunched position. Closing my eyes, I revel in the moment.

Whoever said nursing babies get milk drunk forgot about us moms. In this moment, I’m intoxicated too.

“Would you like a blanket or scarf to cover up?” my grandmother asks, beside me on the park bench.

Pausing to gather patience, I shake my head no and reveal a closed lip smile. My eyes are still closed. I hope my family will stop asking soon (I’m practicing child-lead weaning).

I use to cover up.

As a first time mother, unsure of my new role in the world, I sought the advice of those who came before me. While my family has been incredibly supportive of my breastfeeding Ella, they have suggested, mostly out of courtesy, to cover myself.

I can’t tell you exactly when my philosophy for public bare-nursing, as I like to call it, took place. I can’t even tell you the inspiration. What I can tell you is that it felt right, and it feels right – for both of us.

I remember when Ella grew frustrated with nursing covers.

It was obvious to me that she wanted to watch the world. She wanted to look at the sky, the underside of trees and people walking their dogs. She wanted to be able to look at me without a barrier between us.

I can’t blame her. A bit claustrophobic, I wouldn’t want to be baking inside a blanket on a nice summer day.

So far, I haven’t encountered any off the wall uncomfortable public-nursing situations.

But I’ve heard the horror stories.

Women asking other women to cover up, security guards directing women to restrooms, even celebrities Tweet about nursing mothers “exposing” themselves!

That said, I am aware my unashamed and public feeding of my daughter makes some people uncomfortable. I watch them pass, look confidently into their faces and smile. I love the people who smile back.

My intention in nursing uncovered is not to be offensive. That is not why I do it. However, I am realizing public breastfeeding makes a statement.

To clarify my position, I have collected my thoughts into the particular reasons why I choose to bare-breastfeeding my daughter. This is my “public statement.”

Breastfeeding Uncovered – A Peaceful Protest

First and foremost, I nurse my daughter to feed and nourish her body.

She has survived and grown into a healthy and beautiful little girl because of the milk that my body naturally produces. I consider this nothing short of a miracle.

I nurse uncovered for the breastfeeding women who might be on the fence about covering up. I say to you, “it’s okay.” Do it. Remove the nursing cover. Feel confident and empowered. What you’re doing is a gorgeous thing.

I don’t cover up as a smoke signal of peace to the women who are ashamed of nursing in public. I watch them, clumsily trying to balance a screaming newborn and throw a cover around their neck. To them I radiate thoughts of acceptance. “It’s okay.”

Bare-breastfeeding is a way to teach children about nursing. I am approached by children – their curiosity so innocent. If for any reason they weren’t able to be breastfeed, I am teaching them of another option. Why they ask, I explain. The one thing they always seem to understand is my daughter’s joy.

Breastfeeding uncovered is a peaceful protest, a very real act in a world full of dramatization, and a way to normalize the very thing our breasts have been created for – to nourish our young.


Here are more posts by the Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival participants! Check back because more will be added throughout the day.

Your Comments

24 Comments so far

  1. Lindsey says:

    I applaud you for nursing in public. We all would benefit from more mothers doing it more often. Mind if I offer another perspective?

    Where I live, breastfeeding is not commonly seen out and about. I suspect it is this way in a lot of places. I do not hesitate to feed my baby when she is hungry, upset, etc. I’ve nursed in malls, hair salons, airplanes, doctor’s offices, and even managed to accidentally get into a school field trip picture while nursing my daughter on a bench at Disney World! :)

    But I cover up. Not with a huge, dominating burka-like cover, but with a burp cloth or a jacket casually draped across us. And I do it out of respect for people who are not comfortable with my nursing in public, to hopefully show them that we can meet in the middle. In other words, you don’t have to like that my boob is out, but I won’t make you look at it either.

    I know a lot of people say “Well, if they don’t like it, they don’t have to look at it!” but let’s be honest. In our society, we look at bare boobs. It’s unfortunate that breasts have become sexualized to the point of being foreign objects when it comes to a mother’s relationship with her baby, but it’s true nonetheless.

    So, because I want to help foster an understanding of how normal and nonchalant breastfeeding is, I do it in public without reservation, but with a little bit of discretion. Hopefully the sight of me casually nursing will inspire someone else to either do it themselves or support other people’s decision to do it.

    And just for the record, I think we are both doing it right. :)

    • bringbirthhome says:

      Lindsey, I think we are both doing it right too. There is definitely such a thing as being courteous. I am not a fanatic, therefore completely agree with a womens right to choose! Thanks for your comment.

  2. Sarah says:

    Beautiful! I’ve never been able to cover Emma up. She’s always hated it, and it’s made things stressful, which means I can’t let-down. So until she got more focused, I’ve moved into private rooms to feed her. She spent months of her life trying to multi-task while breastfeeding. This meant that my nipple was more out of her mouth than in. And that once I did let down, she inevitably let go and my milk squirted everywhere. So to focus her, I would go to a private room.

    But now, she’s all business. If she’s hungry, she nurses. If she’s not hungry, then she doesn’t ask to nurse and I don’t ask her if she wants to. (She’s only 10 months old, but she’s got the sign for “milk” down!) So now I nurse in public as much as possible. For the first time in my life, I was able to comfortably feed her at my in-laws’ house on Saturday – right there in the living room. :) I’ve also fed her in stores, parks, beaches, poolside, and (by far my favorite) on Bright Angel Trail in the Grand Canyon.

    My nephew (2) is constantly interested in how Emma eats. Now he knows that she’s eating and he likes to see how it works. Of course, this is pretty distracting for her, but I hope it will help him understand what’s happening when his baby sister comes along in November. :)

    Thanks for bare-breastfeeding! And as always, thanks for the post!

    ~Sarah

    • bringbirthhome says:

      I think it is so important for us to pay the most attention to our children and their needs when it comes to nursing. Sometimes covering up or moving into another room is exactly what your child needs to focus on the task at hand! Thank you for sharing your story!

  3. Tabitha says:

    As a 1st time mom i began my breastfeeding journey behind closed doors and covered under hooter hiders in public. As time passed I became more comfortable and began nursing her without cover, mostly because I had no choice. She hated it. :) But i find it much easier to enjoy our nursing time together! I only find it hard to nurse openly around certain people still. My husband perfers me to be covered in public and so anytime i am with him i try to avoid nursing. It’s really a struggle. I know it shouldn’t be. i hope it becomes easier for me as it did for you. Thanks for sharing!

  4. sara says:

    I don’t like to dress sexy, I wear a one piece bathing suit and I wold never ever go on a beach topless. One thing is trying to be sexy one thing is breastfeeding. There are paintings of the 1500 with the Virgin Mary nursing Jesus, and I just don’t understand how is possible that 600 years ago people were fine with that image in a church and now people often are disgusted with a mom breastfeeding her child.

  5. Thank you for your post. I nurse uncovered now. But with my first child I struggled for the first couple of months trying to stay covered. Her cries often drew more attention than me currently breastfeeding a toddler. LOL

  6. timbra says:

    this is beautiful and reads like a poem, with many of the same words I struggle to find about the joys of nursing a baby. . .public or not. I applaud your quiet “protest” and “smoke signal”!

  7. Sara (boobie beanies) says:

    Absolutely beautiful, well-written, makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside :)

  8. Claire says:

    I love your post! Those are the exact reasons that I don’t use my cover!

  9. bringbirthhome says:

    Thanks for stopping by! I am loving this Breastfeeding Carnival :)

  10. Renee says:

    beautifully written!

  11. Grandma Kate says:

    BEAUTIFUL!!!

  12. N says:

    Hey mummy – sounds like you are doing what you believe is best for your daughter, and are passionate about promoting children’s health so good on you,
    - a cover can serve many purposes though and i really appreacite the beautiful shawls and wraps people have given me , here’s why

    i usually take a cover with me when i feed my daughter, (second baby, 3 months)as where we live it can be very cold and windy and i don’t enjoy getting a cold chest or tummy, it also keeps her focused on task which is a priority when i need to share my attention between my baby and her toddler sister and all the other people / tasks in the day.

  13. Jessica says:

    I love this! I copy and pasted this and the link to my breastfeeding support group page to help show the mothers that they are not alone! This is beautifully written and touched my heart. <3

  14. eve says:

    I stopped using a breast feeding apron at 12 weeks, my little girl hates it but I’m glad that I had it at first because it take a while to get the hang of latching on quickly, you can’t see much while she is feeding and I know its the best thing for my baby :) I’m glad that I’ve got the confidence to feed without it now, the more woman feed their babies in public the more excepting people will become to the idea. For any one who is unhappy with the idea of feeding in pubic because of what others think, I want them to know that it gets easier and good luck


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