Probably one of the first and most intense arguments Jake and I really had was over a Facebook poll asking something to the effect of: Do you think that women should be required by law to cover up when breastfeeding? The poll was very poorly worded in the first place and our different interpretation of the question was what initiated the fight. Experience on both sides played into it and yes, I threw a "Well, next time you nurse the baby if that's the way you feel about it!" in there somewhere among all the tears and the rage about feeling misunderstood. I use a cover when I'm out in public; for goodness sake, I make and sell them. I think they're great! I don't use it to hide what I'm doing, mine right now is blue flames print, I'm trying to bring attention to the fact that I'm nursing.
I've used it to keep Jaron focused when he's in the "hey what's that?"- while rotating 180 degrees and trying to take me with him - mood, the cover keeps out distractions and it makes it easier to nurse him to sleep if he can't see what else is going on. I've used it as a changing pad, as a blanket, to cover him from the rain and to block out the sun. When I first designed my cover I added extra length, so I can tuck it under his body and he can't throw it off when he wants to see what goes with that noise he just heard (trying to get him to sleep, remember?)
It's been a lifesaver in another way too. I'm rather...umm, blessed...in the milk making factory area. It's typically a very involved process to uncover and then recover everything no matter what I wear, the whole "one-handed" nursing clasp doesn't work that way for me. This wouldn't be a huge issue, except that I not only have to nurse in public (NIP) on occasion, but I have to supervise and control a strong-willed, independent, and determined 2 y/o boy at the same time. Jumping up to keep him from escaping the mall play area would have been more than a little awkward and definitely more time consuming if I had to mess with my shirt or worry about what Jaron was doing or (not)covering while I ran for him, backwards cape to the rescue! No one had and idea what may or may not have been hanging out or doing the mommy flop as I firmly escorted my escape artist back within the confines of kids zone.
I have NIP uncovered before and it doesn't bother me, I'm discreet and I don't think anyone knew besides my family that knew the baby needed to eat. No biggie, it's just not the most comfortable way of doing things for me all things considered.
I will also use the cover when I'm around people who I know are uncomfortable or nervous about seeing something they don't want to see. Prime example: my brother. He knows it's natural, he wants his future wife to breastfeed, but he doesn't want to see his sister's goods. I love him and I respect that so I use the cover...most of the time. He's coming around, he used to leave the room even if I had the cover on! The other day he walked in the door and gave me a hug while I was nursing covered. We're getting to the point where one day I'll ditch the cover and he won't even notice. I can tell that by respecting his views and comfort level I am making a positive and lasting change to his thoughts about NIP.
Jake comes from a different experience. First I'll say that he is 100% fully supportive of breastfeeding and he's supportive of breastfeeding in public. His mom did, I do, his sister probably will. But he was subjected (and yes, in this instance it was meant to offend, so I feel subjected is an appropriate word) to a certain type of nursing mom not only once but twice, two different women completely unrelated to each other. The type that give the rest of us a bad name. The type that "whipped it out" not just to feed their baby, but also looked you in the eye with the expression that they want you to say something. The ones who are trying to pick a fight.
So going back to our fight, I saw the word "law" and firmly believe that no government agency should tell me how to feed my baby. If I forget my cover at home what happens? Is "public" sitting in my car in a parking lot? How far would that go? Jake read it more along the lines of "Should women be required by law to be discreet in how they nurse their babies." I wholeheartedly agree with being discreet, in fact, most state breastfeeding laws incorporate some form of "with as much discretion as possible."
I've come to believe that there are 4 basic types of nursing moms. Some do what they do because they feel that they have no choice or no support to do otherwise, others do what they do because it feels right.
The first type is the mom who never nurses her baby in public. She'll rework her schedule to be home, nurse in the car or the bathroom, or pump a bottle. Nothing wrong with that, but it doesn't help normalize breastfeeding in today's culture in the USA. I think many first time moms start out this way, some may keep the same practices and others may change their style as they get more comfortable with themselves, their babies, and nursing in general.
The second is probably the category I most closely fall into. Nursing with a cover, blanket, or shawl. For the various reasons I stated at the beginning of the post, for me it has less to do with privacy and more to do with practicality. For others, they may simply need or want the privacy. I have friends who are just naturally private and modest people, we never could share dressing rooms and they always go into the bathroom to change their clothes, I don't see that part of their personality changing just because they had a baby. I know others that feel that nursing is an intimate bonding experience every session and don't want to share that with the world.
The third type can easily NIP without a cover and with discretion. You might notice what they are doing if you do a double take, but for the most part they just feed their babies and keep going without drawing any extra attention. Any extra skin being shown is accidental as part of the process and it quickly disappears. A favorite blogger of mine wrote this post about her move from type 2 to type 3. I am so proud for her and think it's great that she can do that!
The fourth is the type that Jake had experience with. The mom who goes looking for a fight, who, when nursing isn't focused on her baby or on the people she's with, but on trying to get attention and deliberately get reactions. There is no subtlety or just nursing. It's a statement, a loud statement that tries to declare war in their environment and on a whole group or people who didn't even know they were anywhere near the vicinity of hostile territory.
This by no means is meant to cram every nursing mom into a box, at any point in time a mom can be one or another or have aspects of multiple types. These are just the most obvious delineations that I've noticed.
So. To cover or not to cover? That's up to you. What are you comfortable with? What are those around you comfortable with. While it's easy to say "They can just get over it!" How do you respond when someone says that to you with that kind of attitude? Things aren't going to change overnight, but change isn't impossible either. Maybe if we took the type of system I use with my brother and used something similar on culture as a whole we'd get there a lot quicker and friendlier than just trying to set all of America on it's ear. But then again, we're American, being loud and obnoxious is what we're known for....
What's your opinion on covering or not covering? If you do, why do you? If you don't, how did you decide that that was right for you? If you're not a nursing mom, what do you think when you see a non-covered mom nursing as opposed to a covered mom?
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