Bring up the subject of breastfeeding and someone is going to ask:
The simple answer is “It’s harder than it looks”. (As are many things related to breastfeeding.)
(Seriously. For those of you that haven’t embarked on the journey of feeding your baby in the ‘natural’ way, there’s a learning curve. It’s harder than it looks.)
Have You Tried Keeping A Child Covered While They Eat?
Is covering up impossible? No. But it’s also not as simple as it sounds. Most babies don’t want to be covered. Other babies think it is a game of peekaboo.
New mothers who are still learning the tricks of the trade need to be able to see what they’re doing. Trying to manage a cover when you’re still trying to finagle breastfeeding, period, can leave you feeling flustered and self-conscious. It can also be uncomfortable, not to mention hot.
Believe me, when you’re nursing your brand new baby in the sweltering heat of a Florida summer, dangerously overheating your infant under a cover is a very real risk.
Let’s also not discount the possibility that a new mother might, on occasion, space out and forget to even PACK a cover in the diaper bag. She might even forget to wear nursing-appropriate clothes. (Hey, I haven’t been able to fit into that strapless swing dress for the better part of a year, you can forgive me for being so excited about it that I forgot to take into account that I’d have to expose literally MY ENTIRE BOOB to nurse if I wore it.)
So, no, while nursing covered may not be the most daunting herculean task we will face in our lifetimes as mothers, it is also not Duck Soup.
But perhaps a better answer to that pervasive question is this: “Why should I have to?”
No, really. If I don’t want to, why should I need to worry about it at all?
I’m just trying to feed my kid.
I’m really not getting up on a table and performing a strip-tease.
If your husband or boyfriend is that distractible, you have much bigger issues than me feeding my child.
I’m just making sure my child has her dinner. She’s hungry. Don’t your kids get hungry?
We don’t send 5-year-olds to eat their meals in restaurant bathrooms. We don’t insist upon throwing a blanket over 11-year-olds’ faces when they take a snack break at the playground. Why are nursing babies any different?
Is it because babies take their meal from a breast? Am I covering up for the sake of my imagined modesty? Or is it for the sake of someone else’s? Or perhaps some moral code that “society” subscribes to, but which I may or may not?
Am I covering up because someone might, maybe, perhaps, if they don’t have the common sense or the social grace to look away, be exposed to the sight of my bare nipple for all of two seconds? And if so, if that’s what everyone is taking issue with, why does that possibility make them so uncomfortable?
I get it. We live in a society in which breasts have been hyper-sexualized.
“Breasts are for sex!” Every television ad and magazine cover proclaims, nay, screams. It’s impossible for any man or woman in our society to see a naked breast and NOT consider it sexual, baby attached or no.
Breasts aren’t actually for sex. Their actual natural function is to make milk and feed babies.
Oh, and, wait.
Are we really operating under the assumption that most normal adults are such slaves to their sex drives that they’re going to be helpless not to get turned on by the mere sight of a naked breast that’s mostly obscured by a feeding child?
I Call Bullshit
I’ll shamelessly admit that in this era of snap chat, when a nude photo is never further than a text message away, I have, on multiple occasions, had text conversations with my child’s father that go something like this:
- He requests a sexy picture.
- I inform him that I’m trapped under our baby, so sexy picture would also include said baby.
- He informs me that that would render said sexy picture entirely useless.
Which is to say, the inclusion of our daughter in a boob picture results in the picture not being perceived as “sexy.” This, from the one man who could be completely forgiven for seeing my breasts in conjunction with my child, and still seeing them with a sexual eye.
Clearly, there are limitations to the kinds of scenarios in which a naked breast can be considered “sexy.”
Don’t get me wrong. I get it.
Not everyone is comfortable with baring their breasts in public. And that is okay.
Not every woman is comfortable nursing without a cover, or even nursing in public, period. And that is okay.
I’ll admit that at Christmas, I left Daddy alone in the crowded Santa Claus line at the mall so I could find a more secluded spot to nurse.
I’ll also admit that on another day, I sat in the middle of the exhibit hall at a crowded comic convention and nursed uncovered without a care.
In either case, it’s been my choice.
My Answer to That Oh-So-Persistent Breastfeeding Question
It shouldn’t be a question of how “hard” it is to cover up; it should be about what works for you, as a mother. If you want to nurse uncovered, don’t worry about what anyone else thinks. And if you want to nurse covered, because that makes you more comfortable, that’s great, too. And if you sometimes choose to do one, and sometimes the other, that’s your prerogative.
Motherhood is hard enough. Let’s not worry about how hard it is to cover up.