When I decided I wanted to breastfeed, I did so for the closeness with the baby I was promised it would bring. I was having trouble bonding with my baby through my pregnancy and wanted another way to use my body to nourish him through his earliest stages of life.
I was excited to experience what I imagined would be a tender and magical connection between mother and child.
However, one thing I did not anticipate about breastfeeding was the inconvenience of doing so in private. As a child, I had always been taught that a lady’s breasts were never meant to be exposed, and breastfeeding was no exception.
So, for the first several months, I wrestled with covers, blankets, and often hid myself away.
The wedding of a close friend was three weeks after I gave birth, and I was determined not to miss it. I was in the wedding party, and adamant that I could both support my friend on her big day and take care of my newborn. The wedding was several states away, and my dear husband and I drove in the June heat to witness their union, stopping every few hours to breastfeed my little angel.
Upon our arrival the day before the wedding, I entered the church in search of a private space to breastfeed. The South Carolina weather was pushing 100 degrees and the church had no air conditioning, so I had decided a cover would have been dangerous. Sadly, the only place immediately available for some privacy was a hard bathroom floor. As I fed my delightful little newborn, another bridesmaid entered to fix her hair. She stared at me, mouth agape.
“Does that hurt?” she asked, somewhat bluntly.
“Not a bit!” I chirped. A lie. My breasts were engorged. It hurt a lot.
“Doesn’t it feel gross?”
“Nope, I’m just feeding my baby.” I was a bit taken aback.
“But your nipples are sex organs. I don’t think I’d ever do that.”
I had no response but to smile and grit my teeth. I knew she had no experience with motherhood, so she was bound to make some insensitive comments. Even so, my resolve was solidified to hide myself away whenever my son got hungry.
Where’s The Food?
After the rehearsal, as dinner was about to start, my husband searched and found a dark and empty classroom in the church outbuilding for me to breastfeed a bit more comfortably. He agreed to wait with me as my son had his fill. As a newborn, my baby would often breastfeed for over twenty minutes, so I certainly didn’t want to be left alone.
We returned to the rehearsal dinner once the baby was satisfied, only to find that there was hardly any food left for us to eat. I tried to be a good sport about it, but I was hurt that we weren’t considered. I put on a cheerful face and thought, oh well, we can eat plenty at the wedding tomorrow.
The wedding was lovely. I felt privileged to witness the union of my friends, and glad that I made the journey. My son didn’t make a peep during the ceremony, for which I was grateful. After pictures, just before the reception was about to start, my husband and I slipped off so that I could breastfeed. My baby had been waiting for longer than usual, and I felt like my engorged breasts were going to burst out of my too-tight bridesmaid dress. After a particularly long feeding session, we went back to the reception, famished from a long day.
I did not see any food out, and most people’s plates were empty, so I ventured back into the kitchen to get some for myself.
“Can I get a plate with some pasta?” I asked
“Oh honey no, there’s nothing left!” replied the server. “Haven’t you had any yet?”
I nearly burst into tears. How could a wedding run out of food not once, but twice? I rushed back to my husband and told him what had happened. His only response was a to hug me. Later on we stopped for some fast food to hold us over until the evening.
My Body Makes Food!
As I’ve grown as a mother who breastfeeds, I’ve often reflected on that wedding. The comments made by the bridesmaid in the bathroom touched a sensitive spot for me, causing me to hide away every time my son needed to be fed. The direct result was that I did not get to eat!
Thankfully, in the months that have passed since, I have gained a lot of confidence when it comes to breastfeeding. As my baby grew, he became more adept at pulling off covers, and as the summer grew hotter, I found I didn’t want them anyway. I decided to stop hiding away and missing important moments. It’s not worth it to bunker down in smelly bathrooms and withdraw from the rest of the world. And as I began to be more confident, I noticed that no one seemed to mind.
Breasts, though they may be aesthetically appealing, are meant to feed babies. That is their function. Though society has attached sexual connotations to breasts, there is nothing sexual about exposing them to provide nourishment for a child.
More recently, I was a part of another wedding party, as was my son. I held him while standing up during the ceremony, and he was in pictures with the bride and groom. When he was hungry, I pulled down my dress and breastfed him. And no one said a single word. Breasts are for feeding children, even at weddings. And this time, I got to eat too.
Featured image: By USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) – http://www.usda.gov/oc/photo/93c0005.jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7113434
Inpost Image: Author’s Own, used with permission
Laura Kiefer is a freelance writer, part-time philosopher, and full-time mom. Her hobbies include doing yoga, drinking tea, and totally oversharing on mommy blogs. Although she can’t cook, she loves to eat!