Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Breastfeeding and covering

The Yummy Mummy club just asked a question to moms about whether they covered up while breastfeeding. Personally I don't care whether mom covers or not. I'm all for breastfeeding anytime, anyplace and will help moms tooth and nail to do so. I remember gawking one time when I saw a mom walking through the mall breastfeeding her baby. I had to let her know why I was gawking, it went something along the lines of this "Oh my God, you're nursing as you're walking??? That is so cool!!!!" She felt I was a weirdo for sure, but at least she didn't think I was some Judgeypants. I can live with weirdo.

Anyhow, during my brief nursing career I never covered up. I never really felt the need to and the one time I tried with Mr. Ninja, I failed. It was hard enough for me as a brand spanking new mom just to get the baby latched on! Then to put a cover on? No freaking way. At that point I was so terrified of breaking that sacred latch we worked so hard to get I was afraid to breathe. By the time I was nursing Baby D, I could play Nintendo while feeding him, but the urge to cover up was long gone. It's funny though as I read the responses, a lot of women do cover up, which is fine, by all means, do what makes you feel comfortable, but its left me wondering if I'm not the Canadian norm and just lack modesty.

I'm in Toronto, technically I'm legally allowed to walk around without a shirt if I please. I'm pretty wise and don't since my bra is as much for my safety as it is vanity. But I don't really recall showing a lot of skin while nursing either. One might get a flash when I was attaching baby, but that was about it. My nursing bra was seriously exposed and given how much *I* hate those things I can understand if anyone else doesn't want to see them. Anyhow I had no reservations nursing anywhere in public. I remember once my MIL setting to a hard diningroom chair in her bedroom for me to nurse A Dude at xmas because she didn't want to make FIL or the other guys uncomfortable. I told her that I needed to nurse in a comfortable chair with arms or I'd go home to feed baby. One of the menfolk was a cop, for God's sake, he'd seen a lot worse! This got her a little freaked and I just took over. She kept everyone downstairs til I was done. I mean really? I generally try to accomodate making folks feel comfortable even if it's relatively unreasonable, but to freak out because your DIL is nursing in an out of the way chair that everyone will have their backs to?

As a result, I never really felt comfortable feeding my children in front of my ILs, if they were at my place, they'd just have to deal with it or leave, (and have said as much, and have had men fleeing the room) but if possible, I tried to bring bottles of milk or keep my visits short. Funny how something like that can stick with you and make things more difficult than they had to be. With my friends, I never had a problem, they're all moms, I've been a lot more naked with them in a change room than my boobs and they were the first to make sure I was always well stocked with water or treats. With strangers, I didn't care and no one made a fuss. But with family, there was that issue. How backwards is that? In many other cultures, it's family who makes life as easy for the nursing mom as possible and anyone who doesn't like it can take a flying leap.

Not quite sure what the point of this post is. I'm allowed to ramble on my blog right? Not all of my rants have to have a point. So I guess in closing, you need to do what you feel comfortable with, nursing for me was hard and I'm glad for the most part I didn't let too many things make it harder.


Anonymous said...

I agree that you see almost nothing when a mother is breast feeding but I always covered up because it made me feel more comfortable.

I also never felt comfortable around my ILs either and I would go to a bedroom to have some quiet time with baby and get away from all the craziness. Technically the women are all nurses, but I was not comfortable feeding her in front of everyone which would have made the feeding all that more difficult.

There are a lot of separation of women and men along with modesty in their culture that would have made everyone including me uncomfortable.

Val said...

Great blog as usual. But I felt painted with the same brush as your MIL - and that isn't the case at all. I have no problem with moms breastfeeding. I from the older generation, but a lot of us don't have the issues your MIL has. In fact, when my grandson was born, my DIL would ASK to go to my bedroom to breastfeed. SHE wasn't comfortable being around the rest of the family. I would have been more than happy to have her amongst us while feeding my darling little grandson, but it was her choice not to. So it's not always the "behind the times" old foggies that have a problem with this (as your comment that your young mom friends had no problems with it inferred) but it's sometimes the choice of the new mom herself. Just another viewpoint!

Anonymous said...

My ex's family are strange to say the least. Shortly after I had my first girl, they came to visit. I, knowing what they were like, excused myself, and told them I had to feed the baby. A few jumped up, wanting to take on that roll. When I told them I was breast feeding, they said it was gross and disgusting. That being said, I think it depends on the person who is breastfeeding. Too many people have no idea that breastfeeding is one of the most natural things you can do.

Joy said...

I'm sorry Val, but I disagree with you here. I've never inferred anything about age. I'm talking about friends vs family and how skewed it is that family would make me feel uncomfortable vs friends and strangers. My friends are of various ages, and while they'd hurt me if I'd call them an old fogey, quite a few aren't even in the same decade as I am.

In fact at church, whenever I bring a baby in, I am immediately told by several women of the congregation well into their 60s and 70s the most comfortable place to nurse, and it's not hidden away somewhere. Of my extended ILs there were two women who didn't care where I nursed. One in her 50s, one who had turned 90 the year after my first was born.