11 March 2014

adventures in breastfeeding

I mentioned in a post on the other blog that I could say a lot about nursing in general. So if you're not into that topic, don't read on. Fair warning.

A couple of weeks ago, we got back from a week-long trip to Seattle to visit family. When we returned, we had so much laundry. I decided I wanted to take it to the laundromat to get through it quicker, so we went to one down the street. It was somewhat late, and there weren't too many people there. A small family with an adolescent girl were among the other patrons. At one point, Shep got tired and wanted to nurse. I nursed him without a cover, and I noticed when he was about to finish that the adolescent girl's phone was pointed in my direction and a light next to the camera was flashing. When I looked over, she quickly moved her phone away from me.

I guess she was taking a picture of me breastfeeding in public without a cover?

Shepherd is 23 months old and still nurses quite a bit. I neither encourage nor discourage it. Sometimes I really wish he'd wean, but other times I really value nursing for the intimacy, quietness, and peace with this crazy toddler who seems to love hitting and throwing things.

I used to be this hyper-modest person, so it's kind of unimaginable to think that I've transformed into this heathen who bares her boobs in public. But when you have a kid latched to your nipple as often as mine has been for two years straight, it kind of just becomes about whatever is most convenient and effective, the shocked audience be damned.

I guess my point here is that I'm not trying to be counter-culture; I'm just trying to do what I think works for my child and for our family, like every parent. I used to be among those who thought it was weird even when a woman was wearing a cover to nurse, and now I'm shocked that women use covers in darkened, private mother's rooms around other nursing moms. Why are we making it so much harder on each other and ourselves to do something that should be a fairly normal part of caring for babies and sometimes toddlers? (No wonder so many people aren't able to breastfeed successfully!) I wish it weren't such a topic of attention. Can we just get over it? I'm nursing my kid still, and I'm doing it in the middle of the grocery store, the laundromat, or wherever my kid wants to nurse. And yes, I usually am doing it these days without a cover. Because I'd rather do that than deal with a tantrum or a whiny, fussy kid, and I'd rather not deal with the hassle and attention-grabbing nature of a cover. So sue me?


Lauren Mc said...

I hear you on the eventuality of what was unfamiliar becoming so familiar you cant really remember, or even drum up, the feelings you had that were associated with said thing in the first place, in this case nursing obviously. I hate that somehow its an invasion of others comfort zones to nurse in public, but is acceptable for those experiencing that discomfort to one up people by taking pictures, making rude personal remarks, etc.

I nursed james until nearly two years, but I never got out enough when I was to the point of, eh boobs, to be a public nurser. But I think if it feels fine to you I love that you talk about it. I am really hoping the cultural shift back to nursing not being so shocking happens in our lifetime!

Camilla said...

I love your honesty. For me, I feel better having a nursing cover because I'm incredibly shy about nursing, but that's not to say that I'd take awkward photos of strangers nursing in public. And using a cover IS more difficult. It gets hots under there, which is a real concern in the summertime when the baby is prone to overheating. Not to mention the discomfort of it for the baby, who usually ends up protesting the cover eventually.

Kirsten O said...

I lost the cute cover I used when Ivana was a baby and never got around to buying one with #2, and I don't feel any need to use one now. On the rare occasions that we're in public I feel like I can do it pretty discreetly and more importantly, conveniently, without a cover. I'm much less self conscious nowadays, especially if I'm in a room with other women only. I do think it should be normalized and easier for moms who already have to deal with the difficulties and inconveniences of breastfeeding, but one thing I think I can't get over is not wanting to feel exposed when men are around.

Amber said...

So I totally agree that people should not be surprised or offended or embarrassed if a woman is nursing around them, cover or not. I will say that I don't feel comfortable NOT using a cover for a few reasons: my baby's little head doesn't cover my boob, and he likes to pop off often, and I just don't want to be that exposed; I don't have any great nursing shirts, so my whole belly/back, even though garmented, is exposed, and I don't like that feeling at all. I really like the cover at this age because otherwise he's too distracted by all that around him. and I love that I can look down and his eyes are only for me (cause he can't see anything else!). That's just my two cents. But I say kudos to you for doing it bare! I just don't have the bravery! :)

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