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    Should Breastfeeding Mothers Use Nursing Covers?

    Hispanic Woman Breastfeeding in PublicThe Parenting Patch fully supports breastfeeding and breastfeeding mothers including breastfeeding in public. Breastfeeding and breast milk are nutritionally best for human babies. Formula is a lifesaver when breastfeeding truly fails; however, breastfeeding is the optimal method for feeding human babies.

    Fellow mom blog Blessed Beyond Words recently published a post about breastfeeding in cover that really rubbed me the wrong way. She claims to wholly support breastfeeding moms but then goes on to make the following statement: “Except when it comes to whipping your breast out in public and not putting a blanket or cover over yourself.”

    Although many people claim to wholly support breastfeeding moms, statements such as the one above are an attack on breastfeeding, breastfeeding mothers, and breastfeeding relationships. One cannot wholly support breastfeeding while attacking breastfeeding in public without a cover. Wholly means “entirely, fully, completely, altogether,” not “all except X.” If you support breastfeeding expect when a woman breastfeeds in public without a cover, you do not wholly support breastfeeding.

    As a breastfeeding mother of a now toddler, I have used a cover once and only once, and my use of a cover was more to keep my daughter warm and asleep than to hide the fact that I was nursing her. If a woman chooses to use a nursing cover for whatever reason, then fine, whatever. I also support women who chose to breastfeed in public without a cover.  I care more that she is choosing to breastfeed than whether or not she covers up the fact. Thus, I truly do wholly support breastfeeding, not just when and how I see fit.

    Breastfeeding moms do not “whip it out” in public. I never cover my nursing daughter and never will. If you want to eat with a blanket over your head, that is your prerogative. My daughter will not, and I will not force her. The suggestion that I just whip out my breast in public truly makes me angry. I am feeding my hungry child in the best way possible and only feeding my hungry child in the best way possible. I am not whipping out anything.

    Blessed Beyond Words goes on to make another appalling statement that undermines her statement that she wholly supports breastfeeding moms: “I have a problem with how ‘today’s woman’ is so determined that it’s ok to flash an entire restaurant because she is feeding her baby.”

    Again, no. When I am at a restaurant with my daughter and she is hungry, I feed her. I am not flashing anyone. I am feeding my baby. In a restaurant. Where other people are eating. Again, if you want to eat with a blanket over your head, go for it. I, on the other hand, will not force my daughter to do so.

    If I were not cringing enough, Blessed Beyond Words then brings the dreaded issue of modesty into the argument: “Because I believe in modesty, and I believe that as a woman striving to be like Christ, it is my duty to keep “private” parts covered and for my husband’s eyes only.”

    Modesty and breastfeeding do not even need to be in the same sentence. Breastfeeding breasts are not sexual but rather wholly functional. Breasts are not even sexual but rather sexualized. Sexual means “relating to the instincts, physiology, and activities connected with physical attraction or intimate contact between individuals.” Only the reproductive organs are sexual in humans. A woman does not even need breasts to be sexual or have sexual activity. Sexualized means “make sexual; attribute sex or a sex role to.” Our culture makes breast sexual through sexualization. But breasts are not sexual. Breasts are for feeding babies.

    Another problem with the modesty argument is that modesty is an external notion forced upon others. Modesty is about making one feel bad about, as is the case in most of the world, herself. Modesty doctrines are also often enforced on women by religious institutions. The notion of modesty makes an individual responsible for how others think about her. Without delving further into the problem of modesty, I think we can all agree that we can never truly control how and what others think about us.

    If you want to cover up while nursing, that is your prerogative. My prerogative is not to be forced to hide my naturally nursing baby away because of someone else’s opinions. If you want to use a nursing cover while breastfeeding in public, good for you. If you do not want to use a nursing cover, good for you too. Good for you for breastfeeding your baby!

    For more thoughts on breastfeeding in public, check out my Is Minding Your Business About Public Breastfeeding Really That Hard? post.

    References

    What’s Wrong with Staying Covered While Breastfeeding?: http://blessedbeyondwords.com/whats-wrong-with-staying-covered-while-breastfeeding/

    Image Credits

    Hispanic Woman Breastfeeding in Public: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lactancia_bebe_aire_libre.jpg

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