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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Covering Up While Breastfeeding

I don't get what all the hubbub is about covering up while breastfeeding. A friend described her sister-in-law trying to breastfeed to me saying that she would go into a different room, and then use a cover, but she couldn't see the baby and was having trouble latching her, so it just looked like a super hassle. This same Mom could not keep up breastfeeding on the long term, especially after going back to work.

I have to say that I come from the place of having small breasts. Before getting pregnant they were B's (and when engorged they might be D's) but they are C's generally now and when I've been heavier, so pretty small and my aureoles are small. So pretty much unless I am just hanging them out of the top of my shirt you can't see much. Maybe if my breasts were bigger I might feel more exposed Breastfeeding in Public? But honestly I feel like the more I breastfeed around people, the more I am teaching them about how to breastfeed, how to respect a breastfeeding women, and that it is normal, natural, and even beautiful and so special to see. So I try to do it. But for other people, they don't want to do it, and that's fine, too.

Anyway, I couldn't agree more with this backlogged blog entry at PhD in Parenting. . . Covering up is a Feminist Issue

And honestly I think if you don't make a big deal about it, a lot of times people can't even tell! I pretty much breastfeed James where-ever I am in whatever company I am in right there in the middle of everything. When I was visiting my Grandma once I fed him while my Grandma's friend was there and helping her decide how to paint her living room. My Grandma said later she said something to her friend about me feeding him and she didn't even notice. "Not a lot gets past her!" My Grandma said, about her friend, "but you were just so nonchalant". Yeah totally. It's just not a big deal, in my opinion. Normal.

Birth should be that way too, in fact! Nonchalant/special/wonderful/natural. Sometimes it hurts, sometimes it's annoying, sometimes it doesn't work out the way we planned. But the attempt/our version of success/and aftermath can be an important part of transforming a woman into a mother. It binds us together and lets us know and find our strength. So it's at once a part of life and something spectacular. Cover up if you want to, but I'm enjoying it in all it's glory, hehe.


Katelynne said...

I agree. I am quite chesty (34H) with large nipples. I don't cover up when I nurse, and still manage to do so discreetly. The baby covers my stomach and most of the breast, and I can pull my shirt over the rest almost to touch the baby's nose. I once nurse my older child when she was a baby at a restaurant in the booth. The server came to take our order, and didn't even notice. In my opinion, nursing covers, call MORE attention than without because it is like a giant banner screaming, I'M NURSING! That being said, I think if it makes the difference between a mom being comfortable nursing in public or feeding a bottle of breast milk, then by all means cover up.

Devin said...

Ok ... I just typed out a whole long response and when I clicked to post it it all got deleted ... so here I go again, lol.

I use a cover when I'm nursing for a couple reasons:
- I am very shy and modest, so I cover up for my own privacy
- I know that other people can be uncomfortable with seeing a woman nursing, so I cover up out of respect for them (such as my father, little brother, etc)

When I see other women nursing in public I either look away or walk away, because it does make me uncomfortable -- even as a nursing mother myself.

The argument of how it calls more attention to what you're doing when you use a cover has always really bothered me, because that's not what it's about at all. It's just about privacy. If I were feeding him a bottle people would know what I was doing, so it doesn't bother me that using a cover means people definitely know that I'm feeding my baby ... as long as they can't physically *see* anything I would prefer them not to see.

Also, I use an udder cover and have never had any troubles nursing with it. I can easily see him and can make sure he's latched on correctly. We're still going strong -- cover and all.

Anyways ... that got really long and rambley, lol. I hope it didn't come off as preachy or anything because that wasn't my intention and I don't mean it to be. I just wanted to give you another point of view on it. I understand your side of it too.

Devin said...

OH! And if it makes any difference I'm a 32E when engorged and a 32D normally while nursing. I was a 30B before pregnancy with my daughter, and a full 30B/small 30C before pregnancy with my son.

And I just wanted to add also that I never nursed in public with my daughter. I always went out to the car or found an empty room so that I was in complete privacy. So the cover allows me to nurse on demand without feeling uncomfortable, which I think is a great thing for both me and my son. (I still find a more private corner when I'm at a mall or someplace though, just out of respect for other people.)

Liz said...


I'm sitting in my office at work right now with my boob hanging out. lol. Okk, so the door's shut, but Peter needed a nap. I don't cover up. We had so many problems getting started with nursing that it was more trouble.

And now that Peter's more distractable, we do tend to go to another room/the car or wherever. Silence is sometimes the only thing that gets him to eat.

Marilyn said...

One thing that I think is great about you personally not "covering up" A is that is has allowed me, and I would say laur and kate, and even our cousins, to understand the changes that happen to your breasts when you are breast feeding (like the huge nipple!). Obviously we are family so its a little different. But still interesting to me and I think I have learned about breast-feeding from "watching" you

justadrienne said...

Devin--I don't know if you checked out the link I posted but I agree with you totally! I think whatever makes a nursing Mom most comfortable is what she should do!

I guess I feel like some people feel like they NEED to cover up for OTHER people, though (you mentioned this as well), I actually feel the opposite, that I am helping other people by NOT covering up and making nursing part of "normal everyday observed life".

I don't think a woman should ever feel like she needs to cover up for other people. For HERSELF, absolutely but if it doesn't work for her and her baby, it shouldn't matter where she is or what she's doing, she shouldn't feel like she has to cover up, KWIM?

There's just such a big difference between wants to and has to (or feels pressured to). It's both a symptom and an impetus for the social stigma that exists.

justadrienne said...

And I wasn't trying to badmouth using a cover in general when I was talking about my friend's SIL. I was more trying to express that this woman needed something else to make nursing work for her and she didn't get it. Maybe what would have made HER an empowered nurser would have been asking for a private room to nurse in so she wouldn't have to use a cover (since it wasn't working well for her), KWIM?

Then the Duggar Mom uses that Breastfriend pillow with a discreet cover and nursing top, and she does EVERYTHING like that for like the baby's first 6 months of life practically, LOL. It's not slowing her down and it works really well for her.

I'm just saying whatever works, as long as it WORKS, KWIM?

justadrienne said...

And I think part of my point (and others on here) was that it's possible to be discreet and private without using a specific cover, either, but by layering shirts or whatever . . .

Missy said...

I hope you don't take offense to this, but I did want to point out that birth and breastfeeding is not what makes us women. You may have found your strength through those things, but there are plenty of other ways to find it and express our womenhood. I will not be less of a woman b/c I will not give birth or breastfeed.

Sally @ A Blessed Existence said...

Let me preface by saying, I'm a big ol' feminist. : )

I completely agree with you about making it an everyday thing. In my family it's not a common thing, and that really bothers me. Not only does it make me uncomfortable (against my will) to do something so necessary and natural, but I also hate the complete lack of support that comes from it.

I'm fine with whatever the mom wants to do, but again, I do hope it's for their own reasons of comfort and not because of how it makes someone else feel. If everyone in this country looked at breast feeding was something we all considered more natural, people wouldn't be so appalled and think of it as something so taboo that it can't be done in front of others.

For the record, I also used a cover when I nursed, for my own modesty. I wish I could feel comfortable doing something so natural, but I just can't.

By: Kate Nadeau said...

40Fs here... that's a lot of booby to hide or not hide.

For me it totally depends. In front of non-immediate male family members I cover up. At home, never. In the mall, at restaraunts, it's all depends on the day, the babies mood and what shirt I am wearing.

I really need to get some nursing tops.

justadrienne said...

Missy--No I don't take offense to it, and I didn't mean to make it seem so narrow. Even if you become a mother through adoption that is YOUR journey and I think it is just as formative and empowering as birth.

justadrienne said...

That's what I meant by "your version of success"--everyone become a mother a little differently because each journey is unique.

Cortney said...

And if I never get to become a mother, am I less of a woman? Sorry, I know I'm overly sensitive right now, but that last part of your post was a bit hurtful. Maybe those things are what bind mothers together, but are they required for womanhood? I sure hope not!

justadrienne said...

You guys are right, I will try to edit my wording, sorry about that. I obviously didn't mean to suggest the things you are asking, Cort.

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