Friday, May 21, 2010

Breastfeeding in Public

Nursing Mother's seem to be in the news quite frequently. I am always in shock of how people seem to be offended about a Mother's nursing in public. That is until I read the story and see how the Mom is nursing,open and exposed. I don't have much sympathy after hearing that.

I might be in the minority, but I am a modest mama. After all, that is why I called my business The Modest Mom! I believe that Mom's should dress with a heart that seeks to not draw attention to themselves. With that being said, don't put a sack on for a dress! We can look lovely, but modest. If you prefer the old fashioned look, fine. If you prefer the modern look, fine. Both can be done with a modest look and a pure heart! I feel like if you have a heart to be modest, you will have a heart to breastfeed modestly also.

I have heard the argument that God created us to nurse our babies, therefore we should feel free to nurse wherever we want, however we want. While I wholeheartedly agree that God has blessed us with the ability to nurse, I don't feel like we are supposed to expose our body to the people around us while using that gift. God has also blessed us with the ability to conceive children, but we wouldn't dream of sharing that intimate time with any other person around.

Several months ago I was at a baby store that is a "green" store-cloth diapers, cloth menstrual pads, slings, natural toys-you get the picture. They were having a cloth diaper swap and I was selling some of my diapers. The store was lovely and accommodated mothers very well. They had couches at the front of the store for mothers to sit and nurse. I was amazed though to see one mother plop down on the couch, pull her shirt aside (she had a wrap type shirt on) undo her bra and start nursing away. She was totally exposed. At times she would even pull the baby off to try and get the baby to nurse better, and there was nothing stopping you from seeing everything. I was especially horrified because there were men walking around with their wives in the store. If my husband would have been there I'm not sure what I would have done!

So what are some options we have for nursing our babies in public? I'm currently nursing our fourth baby, and I have since grown a little more confident over nursing in public since our first! With my oldest, I used to camp out in a back room at family gatherings. It just felt so strange to nurse in public, even though I was covered. But that is only feasible so long! You get a tad lonely doing that all the time. :-)

Some different ways I have nursed in public are:

1. The most obvious-use a nursing cover! My sister has blessed me making me several different nursing covers, and I just love using mine! They are so easy to keep in the diaper bag, and I use it all the time for a light weight blanket on spring days also. I can see my baby easily, but feel modest and confident while nursing. I prefer a nursing cover over a blanket, as blankets tend to slip down more.

I have heard some Mom's say that they can't use blankets as the baby pulls the blanket off. I think using a nursing cover would help greatly with that, but I also feel like if used from birth the baby should be trained to use it. I'm sure there are exceptions, but generally I think a baby should be used to it if started with it.

2. Another option is to nurse in a sling. I have hardly ever done this, but I have heard many moms say they do this and really like it. I can see how it could be done very discreetly.

3. Use nursing clothes! There are many different brands out there that allow you to nurse discreetly. The only downside is they are pretty expensive, but if you plan on having a large family you could end up using them a lot! :-) Motherhood, Motherwear, and Expressiva are the most common brands I believe.

4. Sew your own nursing clothes! Blessed Designs, Elizabeth Lee, and Candle On The Hill offer nursing patterns.

5. Use nursing camis! This time around nursing I have several nursing camisoles and that has helped me so much. I feel very modest with my regular shirt with a cami underneath as I know my tummy is covered well.

I have seen some Moms just nurse using a t-shirt. I have done this myself at times. However many times I don't think the Mom realizes that if you walk by on the side her breast is totally exposed. So this is an option I do only out of total necessity now.

While this is something to be aware of, I don't promote stressing or getting paranoid over it, as that won't help your milk supply! It is something to simply be aware of, and to set some standards as to how you will nurse. Talk to your husband-or talk to a good friend who has nursed for a long time and get some ideas! The most important thing is to snuggle with your baby and enjoy feeding your baby that yummy nutritious milk!

From Caroline Allen

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At May 22, 2010 at 10:35 PM , Blogger Lisa said...

I can't believe there are any comments on this yet! I read this in the morning and thought I'd comment now.

A agree. Moms should at least try to be discreet. I'm a modest mom too. I would be terribly embarrassed to show even a tiny bit of cleavage anytime, never mind the whole thing while nursing!

However, I have found that I can usually nurse discreetly in a T-shirt--provided it's not a skin-tight one. I can't afford nursing clothes--my husband was out of work for 6 months during my first pregnancy, so I was thankful to get most of my maternity clothes on loan! And there wasn't money to buy new ones. I mostly tried to cover up, especially in the early weeks, when both my baby and I were "getting the hang of things." Once the baby latches on well without any help from me, I can usually do everything very well under the cover of the shirt, and I wear my skirts high enough that you can't see anything (not like those low riding jeans! I can't stand those!).

Then again, there are circumstances where you just have do to what you have to do. I remember when my first baby was a month old (so we were both still learning!), and we were in the Dominican Republic. We had just checked out of the resort, so going into an air-conditioned room wasn't an option. It was November, but it was hot and humid. I sat down on a bench, tried to cover up with a blanket, and get her latched on. But it was so hot that even the thin cotton blanket was too much for her, and she just cried and cried and wouldn't latch on. A lady came up and tried to help out, thinking she had colic and asking me why I was trying to cover up, seeing it was so hot and all. We ended up driving a ways down the road until we found a place where I could hide behind some trees--with my husband standing guard--and feed her.

Now I am a little more philosophical about it. I cover up if it's cold, but if it's hot, I don't. I try to be discreet, but if someone sees a square inch of skin, I don't sweat it. I've found that men generally avert their gaze when they realize what I'm up to. But I definitely wouldn't be as open as that actor in the video!

I would like it if you could post a picture of the covers you use. I've seen one with a wire in it so the mom can see in (it holds the neck open), but no one else can. I've also seen a blanket that was weighted in one corner (to go over the shoulder) so it wouldn't slide. I don't think I would buy them, but I might try making one. Are you talking about something like that?

At May 23, 2010 at 3:03 PM , Blogger Lisa said...

After I posted that and had turned the computer off, I remembered something that I really want to share! That lady that asked me why I was trying to cover up asked me something else: "Are you a Christian?"

Our choice to breastfeed our baby modestly sends a distinct message about Who we serve.

At May 25, 2010 at 2:19 AM , Blogger Jessica said...

I live in Australia, and I find that people are not usually shocked by nursing in public here like they are "back at home" in the USA. As a modest nursing mother, I am in the minority. They actually have parents' rooms in most shopping centers here where you can nurse in private. If I am somewhere that doesn't have one of these, I actually find that I can nurse modestly in a loosish shirt. You just have to be careful that the shirt is pulled down well on all sides. Sometimes I use my nursing cover, but now that my baby is 8 months, he doesn't nurse well undercover. He likes to see around, so he keeps coming off. :-)

At June 3, 2010 at 8:58 PM , Blogger Happymom4 aka Hope Anne said...

I've nursed around the world, and had no problems. One good way is to make eye contact with whoever looks at you--hold your head high, look them in the eye, and give them if you need to a warm smile or a cool, polite one, depending on what is appropriate. I also loved my dresses that were made with nursing slits underneath a sewn in vest! Very practical and easy to nurse very discreetly.


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