Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The problem with nursing covers

On the surface, nursing covers seem to be the perfect solution for moms who want to breastfeed but are uncomfortable doing so in public. Moms can nurse "discreetly," passers-by aren't made uncomfortable by seeing a woman's breasts in action, and babies can eat when they're hungry. Nursing covers are often marketed as breastfeeding helps. According to some of the most popular nursing cover sites, they "allow you to breastfeed anytime, anywhere." You can "nurse discreetly and in style."

Are there any potential downsides to nursing covers? In this post I explore how nursing covers may do a disservice. Here are some of the reasons why:

1. You need to see it to learn it
In order to breastfeed successfully, women need to watch other women nurse their babies. A lot. They need to see how to hold a newborn, how to help them latch on, how to deal with those pesky arms, how to adjust an uncomfortable latch. They need to see it again and again, until those actions become so ingrained that they become second nature.

As I argued in my presentation at the 2011 Lamaze Conference, breastfeeding in a modern, Western context is like learning a foreign language. We no longer speak breastfeeding fluently. In earlier times, it used to be our mother tongue, but now most of us are second-language speakers. Hiding breastfeeding underneath a blanket keeps us from gaining fluency in this language. It's the equivalent of trying to become in French by reading textbooks, but never hearing spoken French or going to a French-speaking country. It is nearly impossible to become fully conversant in a foreign language without interacting with native speakers.


2. Caution: Keep Out
Nursing covers ghettoize breastfeeding by creating an artificial divide between public & private breastfeeding, then labeling public breastfeeding as inappropriate unless carefully hidden. They perpetuate shame and guilt for an essential, life-giving act. The cultural mandate to hide breastfeeding extends into private spaces; some women use nursing covers even in designated mother's lounges! Covers draw attention to an act that would otherwise be easy to mistake for holding a sleeping baby.

3. One (unnecessary) degree of separation
Nursing covers make breastfeeding unnecessarily complicated by placing a layer of fabric between the mother and her baby. This layer keeps mothers and babies from making eye contact and visually interacting. Many covers have attempted to compensate for this by incorporating a rigid band of plastic or metal band that arches the fabric away from the mother's chest and allows her to peek at her baby. It's a solution to a "problem" that doesn't need to exist in the first place.

4. Hiding hooters & covering udders
Nursing covers reinforce women's status--and their breasts in particular--as objects of sexual desire. (Hooter Hiders, anyone?) By hiding breastfeeding, they send a message that nursing a baby is the equivalent of a sexual act.

The photos below, taken from the Udder Covers website, show women in sexually alluring makeup and poses. This first photo shows a heavily made-up woman with false eyelashes, bleached hair, and an inviting, seductive expression. You could easily transplant her head onto the body of a Victoria's Secret model selling lingerie or swimwear.


This next picture shows models with whitened teeth, false eyelashes, and carefully groomed hair. It sends the message that showing skin is acceptable, as long as it is not in the context of breastfeeding. Bare shoulders? Fine. Cleavage? No problem. Breasts in action? No way. 


Sometimes nursing covers do not sexualize women; instead, they make them look entirely asexual.


I mean, who wants to wear an bib? That's so toddler. Even with a cute floral print.



5. The problem is cultural, not individual
Nursing covers hide the fact that disapproval of nursing in public is a cultural problem. Instead, the rhetoric of "covering up" frames breastfeeding as an individual person's issue that can be solved with the right product. (I'm not confident enough to nurse uncovered. I don't want to see women whip it out. Nursing is okay but I feel it should be discreet.) By keeping the focus on the individual, nursing covers keep us from seeing the issue as a cultural one.

6. Breastfeeding: The anti-porn
"But what if my 12-year-old boy sees it?" My response would be "Awesome! He'll have a healthier view of the female body by seeing breasts in their proper function." The pornographic view of breasts sees them as objects of male desire. A functional view of breasts--not hidden under a cover, not exposed with the intent to arouse sexual desire--sees them as objects that nourish and comfort.

Nursing covers ultimately aren't an aid to breastfeeding--they are a well-intentioned tool that inadvertently undermines breastfeeding. The solution to breastfeeding in public isn't to hide it under a bib; it's to make nursing so ubiquitous, so everyday, that the divide between nursing in private and nursing in public disappears. I long to live in a culture where there is no such thing as "nursing in public"--a place where breastfeeding is, simply, breastfeeding.

Reader Challenge:
This photo is begging for some awesome captions. The best caption gets the official Stand & Deliver seal of approval.

131 comments:

  1. OMG!!! I thought those covers were spoofs- took a few reads to work out what they were! and that there was a 'baby' under there. I have NEVER seen on ein my life- look like for cooking or having your hair done! How horrible! Its that eye contact that is so impt for development! Some women use light baby wraps here just over the bood- never over the enitre baby and your body. Id be to embarrassed to do THAT!

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  2. I feel like this post is a perfect example of "unsupportive support". http://theleakyboob.com/2011/11/unsupportive-support-other-breastfeeders/ Breastfeeding is for all moms, even those that look like VS models, or who have false eyelashes. You don't have to be non-stylish or crunchy granola and ugly to breastfeed! Some moms DO only feel comfortable NIP with a cover- otherwise, they wouldn't NIP. I think covers are a good transitional step in getting moms who may turn to bottle feeding in public to actually BF in public. I get that this post is making a statement about how society's view of NIP is skewed, but don't go after the moms just because they NIP in a different way!

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  3. I actually own 2 covers from that site! I liked using mine and have no problems with women who cover or don't cover. I don't want some random dude in Walmart seeing my boobs breastfeeding or not. The cover helped a LOT of my family/friends (who were normally super weirded out by breastfeeding) more comfortable with it, it warms people up to it as a really good intermediate step. True women need to see other women breastfeeding, but it's not my job to run around public showing others how to do it (sorry busy enough learning how to do it myself!), that can be my job when I have friends over who are interested (and I gladly did with one friend who asked!). I normally agree with just about anything you say (LOL) but I am so effin' tired of this debate and I think there are a lot more important things to focus on than a bleepin peice of fabric that gets the job done (they really don't get in the way, don't think my little guy ever noticed!!) And YES you can totally look down and see baby under the top of it.

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    1. I feel the same way. I don't have a responsibility to educate others about my breasts. I go cover-less sometimes, but my hubby (and Dad, and old ladies at church for that matter) are bothered by it so I cover up to make them quiet. I respect women who brave the "mobs", but my concern is not taking on the world. It is feeding my kids. I am quick to share facts and dispel myths though. I do want to encourage all to nurse, I just chose my methods.

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  4. I totally agree with you Meg! :)

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  5. Meg, I think you've misread my entire essay. I'm not at all ragging on moms who do this (notice that I was very careful to talk about nursing covers, not the women who use them--there's a big difference). My whole point is that feeling uncomfortable with NIP is a cultural issue, not simply an inherent, individual one. In other words, it's a discomfort that's created by our particular cultural values, not one that's inherent in certain women. My point is that if we work on changing our cultural attitudes towards breastfeeding, women won't need to feel uncomfortable anymore!

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    1. I wouldn't say you were careful to not talk about the women who use them. Much of your post was making fun of the women in those pictures. You may have been talking about the nursing cover in many of your points but you were also pretty clear that women who use them are then perpetuating our cultural misperceptions. I understand that other cultures don't view breasts as sexual objects but who's to say their view is the norm? Modesty is very important to many people, including myself and maybe our society's views need to change, but as long as 30% of web traffic is porn I will be keeping covered. You're suggesting that the only way to combat our societies view on breastfeeding is to get rid of covers and force people to see "nursing uncovered" as the norm. Maybe over time, IF everyone were doing this, and IF women started having more children if would slowly change the perception. BUT, how many women will have to submit themselves to the 30% in the process? I for one, will not be a part of that movement.

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    2. She was making fun of the way the women are portrayed. It doesn't make sense to sell a breastfeeding cover for the sake of privacy or modesty and pose models looking sexy at the same time. Just pointing out another example of the cultural issue. These women are just models, they may not even have kids of their own and if they do they may not even nurse them.

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    3. She is not making fun of the women themselves. They are just models; for all we know they don't even have children. The problem is, they are selling something meant to give women privacy while nursing, presumably for the sake of modesty, and yet they have been made to look as sexy as possible with the cover on(and therefore noticeable). Just pointing out another problem with our culture, not a problem with individual mothers who choose to use a cover (I didn't, but then again if I was nursing somewhere surrounded by random guys I would feel like covering up too. I just found that nobody seemed to notice at all if I just did it, once I got good at it anyway).

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  6. I can no longer get a hair cut with out thinking of nursing covers. They all look like those bibs at salons.

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  7. I believe breasts and breastfeeding are natural wonderful things created by God. I have breastfed 6 children for a total of over 7 years so far and hope for many more. But, I firmly believe nothing that would be covered by a sports bra should be on display (and yes I have a problem with that woman's cleavage too). I know some women talented enough to accomplish that with just well-selected clothing, but I'm not that talented, so I use a nursing cover.

    The fact that I believe breasts should not be on display has nothing to do with any shame or guilt. I believe sex is a perfectly natural act, a wonderful thing intended by God to be enjoyed in the marriage relationship. But, it's not something to display to someone else, even though it might help an inexperienced couple or person learn.

    Breasts serve a very natural function feeding a baby, but they are also very definitely intended for sexual enjoyment as well. It's perfectly natural for men to look at breasts and think sexual thoughts. "Let your fountain be blessed, And rejoice with the wife of your youth. As a loving deer and a graceful doe, Let her breasts satisfy you at all times; And always be enraptured with her love." Proverbs 5:18-19

    If you can nurse without a cover without exposing your breasts at all to the public eye, then go right ahead. For those less talented, or with squirmier babies, use a nursing cover.

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  8. HeatherHH, I think I'm going to have to agree to disagree with you about the inherent sexual nature of breasts. There are many cultures that don't see breasts as sexual at all; in fact, the idea that men would find them sexual is seen as silly and childlike. Now, this doesn't mean that men or women in Western countries who find breasts sexual are somehow just making it up; it just means that whether or not you see the breast as a sexual organ is culturally determined, not naturally ingrained.

    I also don't agree with your analogy of sex with breastfeeding. I'd argue that the best analogy is the closest and most applicable. For me, the best analogy is eating in public, not sex in public. The baby, after all, is eating, not reproducing!

    Anyway I know some people are uncomfortable with NIP. I'm not saying your wrong or bad to feel that way, but I am saying that that feeling is culturally determined and that I'd rather change those cultural attitudes, rather than focus on what individual women are doing when they nurse.

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  9. I don't care if women cover up or not, but I don't like the idea that we NEED to cover up or we shouldn't be nursing in public. I saw a women use a cover once at a baby shower (a relatively small group of women from our ward) and I commented that my babies have never liked nursing under covers. She proceeded to tell me that she uses them at home starting from day one so that they'll be used to them when she uses them in public. That seemed pretty crazy to me! If there's anywhere I'm not going to worry about covering up it's at home!

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  10. Oh man I always have felt this way, thank you for the well worded post. I've never managed to humiliate myself by buying one of these, no matter how pretty the fabric.... I always rationalized it by the fact that the weather's really hot (in Israel) and I get so overheated anyways, I can't face another layer. But, really, I just think they're embarrassing.

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  11. I don't have a lot of time or I'd chime in more, but I COMPLETELY agree with you Rixa!!
    And don't even get me started on nursing covers in mother's rooms designed specifially for BREASTFEEDING... why the heck do women cover in there - major head scratching moment there.
    I had never seen a baby nurse before my own. And yes cultures where above the waist nudity do not view breasts as anything but breasts - and mainly for babies. We give things meaning culturally.

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  12. One problem with our culture's attitude toward nursing covers--not with individual women using the covers, but with the narrative surrounding 'breastfeeding in public'--is that many people assume that all babies are perfectly happy stuck under a cover. "I don't want to see that! WHY doesn't she just use a cover???" Besides my own wishes--not wanting to draw attention to myself with a giant tent thingy, not feeling obligated to 'cover up,' not wanting to carry yet another baby thing around with me all the time, etc., etc.--my baby absolutely refused to be covered up. (I tried when he was really little, before I felt confident breastfeeding--in 'public' or otherwise--and he was like FINE I JUST WON'T EAT THEN.) Babies are people, too, and they do have their own needs and preferences that mothers can't control to please everybody else in the whole universe. Oh, hey, and women are even people!

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  13. that's so sad a baby always under a nursing cover. Can you imagine a blanket over your head whenever you eat? I put it over my own head once to get a better latch and was like man its hot as hell under here and I can barely breathe - haven't used it since.

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  14. I have a caption:

    "I want to be discreet, so I'll turn my baby into a piece of upholstery so no one will know he's eating."

    Seriously, those covers look like a furniture manufacturer had a surplus of upholstery and decided to sell them to the nursing cover companies.

    The "udder cover" company is based here in Utah, and I keep getting coupons in the mail for them. I thought about getting one (baby #1 is due in March and I'm planning on breastfeeding), but I have moral issues with using something that uses the term "udder" as a marketing tool. My breasts aren't udders!

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  15. I tend to agree with your post, and I am not going to take a stab at captioning your picture, not feeling creative in the moment, but I must share the most HORRENDOUS picture of a breastfeeding cover/pillow I have ever seen! If nothing says look at me like this monstrosity, I don't know what does! http://www.sandiegobebe.com/

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    1. OMG I just looked that think up and really that's just taking things on step to far...

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    2. oh! that made me laugh out loud!! it always baffles me when people buy this crap.

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  16. Woo! Think I need some cheese over here with the beverage of choice these commenters are serving! If you don't like it, don't wear it, it's as simple as that. I'm not going to make someone feel bad for wearing the cover just because I think society needs to get a grip with breastfeeding. If a woman feels better NIP with a cover, then let's let her, aren't we all about choice here (choice in birth, etc.) or is it choice just as long as it's the "right" choice?

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    1. I think you are missing the point here; no one is attacking mothers who use a cover or cover up in some fashion, but simply taking a look at society and how we need to change our cultural beliefs. Calling something a Hooter Hider and such is only helping with body image problems and society's negative beliefs and the Stigma that can be attached to Breast Feeding. Breast Feeding is a natural normal thing to do , however many do not see it that way, keeping it hidden away allows the stigma to stay, that in some way we are doing something that is partially wrong and so must be hidden and that is a very skewed view of something that is anything but. Also the covers do not help the fact that many believe everyone can use a cover, but that is simply untrue as some children simply will not tolerate it. . Breast's primary function is for feeding our children and in no way are they sexual organs. And before anyone mentions that fact that some do get pleasure from stimulation of their breasts with their partner, then can’t the same be said for our male counter parts, so if this is the reason women need to keep them under cover then should it not also be true for men, should it not be considered to be an indecent act if men walk around without their shirts on.

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  17. I love this post! I started out as a shy public nurser under a cover, but now that a) my son hates covers and b) I have really thought about how awkward the covers were, I NIP my 18 month old wherever/whenever! I also feel like my sister who is nursing her newborn is having an easier time learning to breastfeed/NIP due to all the time she spent observing me breastfeeding my son in living color w/o cover...thanks again:)

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  18. This topic will never die. Women will fight to the death to say that they should or shouldn't cover. I say let the baby decide, if the baby wants the cover; give it to him or her, if not, take it away. My daughter would NEVER let me use one. I tried at the request of a friend while in their home for an event and I'm a very outspoken person, but out of respect I tried. It sort of worked. she ate, but fussed and squirmed hitting the cover.
    I am not going to hide my daughter in the dark, just so people around me don't get uncomfortable, they can put the blanket over their heads AND the law supports exposed nipples explicitly for breastfeeding (in the US and specifically for me in Arizona). shockingly and thankfully!!

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  19. Great discussion! Very interesting to hear such opposing viewpoints.

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  20. On the sexualization of breasts, I wrote a post after an experience I had this summer. I was nursing at the BEACH (where there were literally hundreds of boobs surrounded me) and a guy was uncomfortable with me nursing there. What the WHAT?! You can check out my post about it...

    http://theclearscamandrach.blogspot.com/2011/09/breastfeeding-in-public-beach.html

    And I agree with Rixa about the covers, point by point. Before I had my son, a cousin made me several really beautiful hand-sewn covers (which I appreciated because they were crafty and pretty and she knew how excited I was to breastfeed my baby) but I never used them. Who wants their head covered while they eat? Not me. And not my son either. I eventually used the covers as aprons because I didn't want them to go to waste. They really were lovely. Useless (for me)...but lovely. :)

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  21. The lady in those final photos looks as though she has no idea what she's got under those covers...or like she's somehow misplaced her breasts, not to mention the baby!

    I feel like nursing my baby is a special bonding experience with my baby and I don't necessarily want to share it with strangers. I also want to be as comfortable as possible when nursing, which meant making my dad & brother uncomfortable because I felt fine enough at my parents home to nurse freely. To their credit they just averted their eyes and never really challenged me on the issue.

    I own a couple of those covers & my son & I both hated them. When I tried using them in public or at larger family gatherings he was constantly trying to get it out from under it. In the end I'd just go into a room by myself or a family lounge if available or my car if not.

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  22. Or, as I like to call them, nursing burkas.

    I agree with you, women need to see other women nursing, and the fear/disgust/sexualization is all cultural. I've never owned a cover. If I ever felt the need to cover up, I just flipped up the tail on my sling, which did the job perfectly. I can only think of a handful of times that I did it, though, all of them being in large faculty meetings when I was still working. Generally, I consider nursing anywhere and everywhere to be a public-service announcement of sorts.

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  23. beautifully said! I agree with everything you said. I started out using a cover, but somewhere around the time my son was 8 or 9 months I stopped using it and felt comfortable enough to nurse anywhere in public. He's almost 21 months now and I still nurse him in public, and most of the time no one notices what I'm doing! I was in the front row of a small jazz concert a few days ago, and during one of the songs my son started dancing right in front of me, then after the song he decided it was time to nurse. It was then that the conductor decided to comment on how cute it was to see him dancing, and everyone in the audience looked at me! I could have been embarrassed, but instead I thought it was the funniest thing ever, and I'm still convinced no one had a clue he was nursing, but rather tired from all that dancing and taking a nap in my arms :)

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  24. Well, I'll tell you another problem with covering up - the babies (or at least mine) would not stand for it. I tried (briefly) being "discreet" in public by throwing a receiving blanket over my first son, and he'd immediately reach up, sweep it off and toss it to the ground, even as an infant. Nothing like a large piece of brightly colored fabric sailing to the ground to call attention to yourself, right? I decided pretty fast that I didn't really care if I flashed somebody, and I didn't really care if a breastfeeding baby proved to be offensive to some random passerby. It's worked out fine for us. It makes me sad that our culture still has so much shame/taboo/hypersexualization overlain on women's bodies that this sort of thing is even an issue.

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  25. I love the covers! They are good for transition, when you are still trying to get a good latch so you can't be as quick to keep the nipple covered. Once we got it down though, the cover is gone. The only times i ever use the cover now is if my son is getting distracted by the surroundings and keeps unlatching, i use the cover to keep his focus on the boob. And also around my father and brother in law, who are really uncomfortable with breastfeeding. The nursing cover has made them open up to it a bit more though, and with my next child I probably won't even bother using it.

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  26. oh, one more thing. I've always thought the covers are the farthest thing from discreet. When you wear a nursing cover it's like you're holding a giant sign saying "look here! my boobs are out under this sheet to feed my baby!!" Where if you aren't using a cover, most don't even notice, just assuming the baby is asleep or something.

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  27. I admit that the first caption that comes to mind is
    "I'm sure I put a baby around here somewhere..."

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  28. I agree with this to a point. Me personally, I do both. With my first I never had one, I never even used a blanket because he would pull it off. but then i was given one with my second. I personally dont care if I "nurse in public" with no covers or blankets to cover me. The reason I love the uttercover though is not because I am embarrassed but because it keeps her from being distracted. If she keeps getting distracted then I stop nursing her earlier than she wants because she is playing games instead of focusing...especially in restaurants. There are more reasons to have covers than just being embarrassed by breastfeeding in public without one. Also, I have lots of eye contact with an uttercover. I look at her all the time, I talk to her I play with her hands, and she still plays with my hair. I have the same amount of interaction with her as I do without one, maybe even more because she is not distracted by everything that is going on around her. it is just me and her in her eyes and I love that. So lets please look at these covers from different sides of the story and not judge. there are pros and cons to everything in life. Yes, I too would love to see "nursing in public" be a natural beautiful thing in America's eyes just like it is in other countries, I too long for that day.

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  29. I was at a baby shower where the mother was giving a nursing cover as a gift...I was silently horrified. I didn't see it on her registry, and unless a woman specifically asks for one giving her a nursing cover seems to send the message "You should breastfeed, but don't let anyone see it!" If someone feels more comfortable nursing with a cover, or it helps a distractible older baby focus on focus on feeding, go for it, but covers are such a weird Western thing.

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  30. There will always be those who get defensive about posts like these. I understand why....after all, if you've been using one of these and never thought about why you maybe shouldn't, the mind's (or ego's, rather) immediate reaction is to justify and defend. The same goes for women who have had a c-section and feel the need to justify it (I did that too once). Instead of allowing yourself to believe that the author is out to get you and all women who use nursing covers, why not just try to understand her message? It's an intelligent, well-written piece that really makes you think. I am grateful for those who teach me what I previously did not know. That way, I am in a very fortunate position....I can decide whether or not I want to use one after knowing all the facts, not just one side. This is what we need more, especially when it comes to childbirth. Get the epidural if you want, but do it from a place of knowledge, not fear!

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  32. THANK YOU for posting this! I specifically remember being at a pool party with my 5 week old first child and learning how to properly nurse by glimpsing over at the pro-moms who were nursing around me.

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  33. Most good LDS women would never wear a low cut top...because its immodest. So if someone is not comfortable wearing a low cut top, then why would they be comfortable nursing in public with an exposed breast.

    You say in western cultures breasts are sexualized, thats the society we live in. And we should guard against that. It's never going to change. The world is getting more and more evil. How would you feel if some random guy stares at you leaving you to wonder if he is getting his jollies later that night from you. There are perverts out there.

    Nursing covers enable women to brestfeed who are not comfortable in public. You say it undermines, but some women may choose to not breastfeed AT ALL because they are uncomfortable in public. If nursing covers makes them comfortable then it enables them not undermines.

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    1. Nursing doesn't happen with an exposed breast, says the modest LDS mom.

      Leaving you to wonder if he is getting his jollies later? There are therapists out there, available, still.... if you're uncomfortable knowing that men may do that while you are still comfortably dressed or adorned in a twin sized sheet in an odd animal print. I don't own the world, I own myself.

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  34. Shreyna, I have covered my babies' heads a few times when they were in that super-distractable stage and would.not.nurse because there was too much going on around them. So yes, I do agree there's a use to a piece of fabric at times! I've maybe done it a handful of times between my 3 kids.

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  35. Love this post! I especially agree with breastfeeding needing to be seen by all people. I attended a parenting class for low-income people (the classes also help provide baby supplies) and I think I only ever saw one woman breastfeed in 2.5 yrs. I nursed my daughter at every class, without a cover, and always hoped that it was doing a little something to make breastfeeding seem like a normal thing to others attending.

    Okay, my caption: Ahh, breastfeeding is so wonderful. Wait! This isn't my baby!

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  36. "I also don't agree with your analogy of sex with breastfeeding. I'd argue that the best analogy is the closest and most applicable. For me, the best analogy is eating in public, not sex in public. The baby, after all, is eating, not reproducing!"

    The concern is not over {gasp} seeing a baby that is in the process of eating {how horrible!}--remember, I said that if you can breastfeed without a cover without showing your breast at all, go right ahead. The concern is over seeing a breast. So, it's disingenuous to say it's just a baby eating. That's not what's upsetting most people; it's the breast. I don't display my breasts while eating. The only other natural time they are displayed is during sex.

    I understand in a culture where breasts are displayed all the time that they are not found to be as exciting, much like people today don't tend to get as excited about seeing someone's calves. But, that doesn't mean that breasts intended for a sexual purpose. They're supposed to be sexual, and they're supposed to be for our husbands and us to enjoy together and for our babies to nurse at. Here we do get into the fact that I believe the Bible to be relevant to the discussion, and many do not.

    The problem with breastfeeding issues is not that people don't see women nursing including seeing parts of their breasts. The real problem is that women aren't getting the breastfeeding help they need or sharing the knowledge they have. Women have trouble and are uncomfortable asking a woman who's breastfed to help them figure it out. Maybe that means those of us with experience should say to moms-to-be, "Hey, I know breastfeeding can be difficult to figure out. I'd always be glad to answer any questions or help with any problems if you can't figure out how to get the baby to latch on or whatever." and then check in with them after the baby is born.

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    1. Do you have the same issue with the exposure of other fetishized body parts? (And I've had sex lots of times without exposing my breasts. Because breasts are not sex organs and are not needed for sexual acts.)

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  37. Attacking and making fun of the covers IS attacking women who use them. Now, if you just said, "I don't like how this company portrays breast feeding" that is different. I use the covers, I'm modest anyway. I have NIP openly, but it's usually at a park or in a place where no one would actually pay attention to me anyway (like a baseball game). But in a mix with people I know on certain levels, I cover because I am a person who normally covers up anyway. I also nursed with a cover at the swimming pool because I have a one piece and there was no way to nurse without being very exposed. I had a woman come up to me and thank me for nursing in pubic especially at the pool because she never sees it. In my area, you really don't see women NIP even with a cover. So, it is a small step but still...a step. I don't pump, I don't carry a bottle, I nurse exclusively to 6 months and am still nursing my 7th baby who is nearly two though I am pregnant. I do wish the covers were advertised this way, "if you want to be modest while you nurse in public, this cover might be the alternative for you." I like the covers because they have a little flexible piece that pushes the cover away from my chest enough that I can see my baby the whole time, and my baby can see me. I do think the product I had (given to me by someone who had it for a baby shower and never gave it away) was too cheap and came apart after one summer's use. It was lighter than a blanket though, and better than a blanket. That is what I covered with before I had it.

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  38. What a wonderful post Rixa! I never use a cover to NIP. In my ward, everybody wears that extra layer of protection in the mother's room, even without the possibility of a man or boy seeing a breast. I too believe it is cultural, and agree that the more we nurse without a cover, the more common it will be. Maybe the dude in Walmart will always have perverse thoughts about a breast, but how much better will our nation's children be, boy or girl, if they saw babies nursing all the time? I always think about the beautiful picture Rixa posted a few years back, which showed one of the first Genereal Conferences of our Church. At least one woman was nursing a baby, without a cover of course, while peacefully listening to the message. It was culturally acceptable at one time. What happened?

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    1. Brieanne, I think someone implied that it was immodest to not have something over you while nursing, and people perpetuated an inaccurate stereotype.

      LDS women outside of the US consider themselves as valiant and modest as US LDS women, and do not nurse with covers.

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  39. I wish that the *reality* for breastfeeding mothers was one in which they felt absolutely free to choose their "NIP style" without facing judgment or shame from anyone else. (AND I wish that nursing cover marketing worked to promote THIS hoped-for reality!) For each individual woman probably finds herself on a specific place in the spectrum of full breast exposure to full "tent" coverage. And yes, in a culture that truly supported breastfeeding (no matter when or where), fewer women would even want nursing covers. But some might still choose to use them. (I'm thinking of a friend whose past experiences with sexual abuse make her feel exceedingly uncomfortable about exposing any part of her breast in public, and her nursing cover is what makes nursing in public possible for her and her baby.)

    That last picture IS priceless. The look on her face in the photo on the right is kind of like, "Huh. I didn't even notice that you were latched onto my armpit under there."

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  40. Great post. I'd never thought about the need to cover being a cultural issue before.

    "Nothing to see here, move along, there is absolutely nothing going on!"

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  41. Brieanne's Mom asks, "Could these things be more hidious?" They look as though they were made from clearance material from a discount store. How on Earth could a baby nurse peacefully or contentedly with that pattern assulting its sweet little eyes? However,what is obvious to me is that this same type of camouflage was used in the fifties and early sixties to conceal the fact that a woman was pregnant. In those days, a woman had no choice but to wear maternity clothes in garish colors and gaudy patterns that were designed to hide her pregnancy. Whether it be a pregnancy or the healthy, natural act of nourishing her baby,a woman should not be made to feel indecent or ashamed to express that which should be celebrated. Why should we conceal the gifts that make us women?

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  42. It it seriously necessary to attack the fact that these girls are beautiful on the outside? Is it a menace to society to have false eyelashes, make up, and bleached hair?! I understand the oxy-moron of seductive cleavage being acceptable but nursing cleavage not. However, I for one would rather not see EITHER of them!!! I believe in modesty in all its forms. I'm all for nursing, and if a cover helps some women to continue to do it, SO WHAT. Get over your feministic defense.

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  43. I've been the recipient of an unwanted cover at a baby shower. My 3 year old thinks it's a super hero cape. And I'm pretty sure she wouldn't stand for nursing under it.

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  44. Rixa, I dare say several of your commenters are not reading their bibles!

    Wanna know how many times the bible references breasts in a sexual way? 7. 4 times in Song of Solomon, 2 times in Ezekiel, 1 time in Proverbs

    Wanna know how many times the bible references breasts in the context of feeding and/or nurturing a child? 14.

    So far, I've found 24 total references to breastfeeding.

    So you tell me, what is the primary purpose of breasts? How does God view breasts and breastfeeding? Does God think that breastfeeding has a sexual connotation and should be covered? Or have we, as sinners, twisted this around?

    I was just thinking about this the other day: http://mamapsalmist.com/2011/10/30/lets-flesh-this-out-breastfeeding-and-the-bible/

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  45. I agree with this post for the most part. I would love to live in that culture "where there is no such thing as 'nursing in public'". Yet I do use a cover most of the time in public, and until our culture changes (or I learn to get him latched without completely exposing myself) I will most likely continue to use one. Maybe that makes me a hypocrite? I don't know.

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  46. Kelly--I don't think it makes you a hypocrite! It means you're a real person living in a complex culture that has some weird beliefs about breasts :)

    Now as a general response the conversation going on here: I knew this would attract lots of discussion and some people would automatically take my post as an attack on women who use covers. It's really not the point of this at all. I was trying to point out how these objects function within our culture and some of the inconsistencies or problems they bring up.

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  47. lol, I like Jenni's "I'm sure I put a baby in here somewhere."

    My son won't be covered...he fights it. So, to rectify the situation I always carry a blanket with me. If you're offended by my NIP you can put the blanket over your head.

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  48. I love this post!! I just wish I could get my hubby to agree! He always wants me to cover up when I nurse in public. At home he could care less! And I just recently made the comment to my 13 year old son that he and his younger brother(6) will have no issues with breasts because they have see me nurse so much!!!
    Kristen Y.

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  49. Ok Rixa, I'm going to be one of the few to actually play the game.

    Have you ever seen those "You're doing it wrong!" joke blogs? Well, mine is based on that.

    Top left:
    "Superwoman fail."

    Bottom right:
    "Your cape is backwards, lady."

    Much love,
    Katy R in Idaho :-)

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  50. For the game, perhaps: "I wonder if I could use this for hiding all those Christmas presents."

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  51. There is nothing wrong with not wanting to show your breasts in public! Whether you think it's a cultural thing or not... These women are breastfeeding! Isn't that what you're all about?? This post is too much for me.

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  52. I am a part time cover-er. I'm not going to say covers are bad, if it weren't for covering, I know some Mom's who would never nurse anywhere but their home! I pretty much nurse my 20 month old, whenever he wants to. I don't usually cover, but I do when I'm sitting RIGHT next to someone I know would be bothered, or when I'm in public & what I'm wearing would leave my whole breast hanging out. I don't have a "cover", usually it's a sweater, sling, anything on hand.

    For the pics; "I'll show you mine, if you'll show me yours!"

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  53. I rarely comment, but you've gotten so many negative comments on this post I just wanted to say yes, I agree with you on every single point.

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  54. Just wanted to say that I think your 6th point is right on. If we hide something and act like it's "dirty," then it will be. Normalizing and naturalizing breasts will help remove some of the ugly ideas that are projected onto them.

    I wasn't very good at promoting the breastfeeding cause, I'll admit. I was an extremely awkward breastfeeder, and basically had positioning problems and significant pain for 3 years straight. Breastfeeding in public seemed logistically impossible, and I didn't do it. But I'll concede that I was too embarrassed to NIP anyway--not exactly due to breast exposure, but simply because I felt that people would think I was weird for breastfeeding at all, let alone breastfeeding a 1-year-old, or 2-year-old, or 3+year-old. I was afraid of negative attention (and I did get some from my extended family anyway).

    Love that the word verification for my comment was "skinse."

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  55. Brilliant. Seriously. I've been trying to explain this, in one form or another, for years....it started with my sons refusing to nurse under a cover, and then blew up when the relief society president in our ward asked the bishop to call us to repentance for nursing in public. The poor bishop was quite confused. :) He thought feeding a baby was pretty normal, and he wondered why it was a woman complaining, not a man. My husband kindly wants to point out that he's NEVER met a man who thinks a "breast in use" is sexy or a turn on. He thinks it's entirely other women putting pressure on NIP moms. After reading these comments, I would have to agree. The negative culture around breastfeeding in America is shocking. I later had a mom's group meet at my house, and even there, not one mom felt comfortable breastfeeding without a cover, or going in to another room. It is so, so sad.
    Thank you thank you for listing these reasons! So logical, so normal.
    By the way, we didn't go inactive. Heavenly Father loves breastfeeding moms! We just put up with the mean-spirited ladies, and enjoy the sweet old gentlemen patting the baby's head while nursing, and saying, "What a cute little one."

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    1. It is sad that women especially in a church where families are to be encouraged would be criticized for using their breasts for what God created them for. I finally wrote a post about breastfeeding, modesty and nursing at church. I referenced some of your posts Rixa, http://thegiftofgivinglife.com/breastfeeding-and-modesty/

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  56. PS- love that pregnant lady statue! Awesome.

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  57. A lady at church always used one of these. It always cracked me up that I was sitting several rows behind her and I knew what she was doing. If she hadn't used the cover I wouldn't have been able to even see the baby (no less her breasts) anyway.

    I found burp cloths to be very versatile: small enough to carry a couple with me every where, big enough to cover a breast while latching, cover a distracted baby's face, let milk spray into it (had to love my crazy letdown), and of course, catching spit-up.

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  58. (I just skipped the other 58 comments! THat is far more time than I am willing to invest in this one little comment at the moment)
    I would add on more point, particularly for first time moms. With a giant cover, you can't see what you are doing! I had to work to get my first daughter to latch on. I can't imagine trying to do that 'blind'! I am really grateful to be nursing in Germany where I have never seen a woman covered while nursing. WHen I do come back to the US on occasion, I have never had any problems nursing my girls in public (yet). I suspect it has more to do with the fact that no one even realizes unless they are paying attention or know what a nursing mother looks like. I have some comfortable tops that make access easier. Can't imagine trying to mess that all up with a giant bib!

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  59. Spaghetti anyone?
    The last picture looks the the tablecloth from lady and the tramp
    -

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  60. I love this article! For the first time I nursed in public without a nursing cover! My daughter had just had her ears pierced and she was upset. I knew she wanted to nurse. I had forgotten her nursing cover (which she hates, btw). My baby's needs were more important. I was able to nurse her by just pulling out my nip. It looked like I was just holding a sleeping baby. I felt so empowered. I hate the nursing cover too! When I'm at home or in a breastfeeding area I let it all out. I feel like I can breath and so can my baby. Breastfeeding is a normal thing! It hurts me when I hear the contrary including from my husband. Thankfully, I am very committed to breastfeeding despite the "nay" sayers. I realized when it was completely normal when I visited my husband's country, Suriname. His sister and many women in public places breastfed their babies. Including pulling out their entire breast. It was amazing and empowering. I feel now I will continue on without my nursing cover.

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  61. this post is so on point!!! my mother gave me a cover when i was pregnant with my first - i practiced with it at home and my daughter HATED it!! after that, i practiced the pull up/pull down method and perfected it - i'm now nursing my 2nd child and have nursed pretty much everywhere and never used a cover

    i agree with Rixa 100% - it's not about the cover itself, it's about a society that continues to view breastfeeding as something secretive and private - a mom at my daughter's dance class asked a dad if he would be offended if she nursed in front of him ... WITH A COVER!!! are you kidding me? i, on the other hand, nursed my son without a second thought and the dad never even noticed

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  62. Amen to this post! Thank you, Rixa! I totally get what you are saying about cultural issues v. individual. And the personal is political, after all. I have a one month old (second baby) and the first weeks of nursing were so painful and awkward that I didn't want to go out. BUT I didn't want to go out much anyway-- just rest with my baby and be home so it was fine. Now things are better and I nurse whenever and whereever.

    As for the caption:

    "has anyone seen my torso?"

    "and for my next trick, I'll pull a bunny from my bosoms!"

    "This is a multi-tasking product that can take you from SAHM to WAHM! In my spare time, I smuggle illegal immigrants across the border!"

    "Where'd that Munchkin come from?!"

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  63. Oh, and I do feel that every time I nurse in public, I'm hopefully paving the way for other moms and young women to see it as normal and mundane. I think growing up seeing my mom nurse my 3 younger brothers had a huge impact in terms of normalizing it for me. It was never even a question-- I always knew I'd nurse my babies.

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  64. I'm one of those people who never saw anyone breastfeeding before I had my own child. I know I made my mom uncomfortable breastfeeding without any cover or anything in restaurant booths or anywhere, but I didn't care. Now that I think about it, the only people who would try to get me to leave the room for "my privacy" while breastfeeding were all women in their upper 50's and 60's. Funny since these women were supposedly part of the original generation of feminists.

    Now, I did like to wear hoodies or sweaters because I couldn't stand to have the flash of cold on torso.

    I always cracked up when people would have conversations with me and have no idea that I was even breastfeeding. I guess it looked like I had a baby sleeping in my arms. I'm pretty sure if I had a hooter hider or whatever on, I would have attracted even more attention.

    I'm also lucky because I had my baby in San Francisco and I could have walked around naked in the middle of the day without raising eyebrows. :>

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  65. I believe a previous poster compared the nursing cover to a burqa, and I feel they are kindred spirits. A burqa is designed to control the exposure of something that society sees as dangerous and sexual. Nursing covers are designed to control the exposure of something our society sees as dangerous and sexual. I will not cover. Initially, I tried, but my son was not interested. Now I am an avowed NIP fan. The only place I will "cover" is when a person asks me to in THEIR home, not in my own, and then I would ask for a room to go nurse in so I don't have to actually cover. In the privacy of your home, you can dictate what happens. In public, you can't. Breasts are only sexual because our society makes them so. It is a direct reflection of our puritan and Victorian histories. If you cover it, it becomes tantalizing. This is why when women are covered from head to toe, even the flash of an ankle can be seen as sexual. This is a civil rights issue, and a women's rights issue. I will not bow down to a culture that tries to force me into a nursing burqa. If other women choose to cover due to modesty choices, that is their option, but I will not be pigeon-holed into that choice. Breastfeeding Rocks! :D

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  66. I agree. Nursing covers tell society that yes, nursing is shameful/private/needs to be hidden. I have written a few posts on nursing in public myself, and how it can help to normalize breastfeeding in our culture. If individual women want to use them to feel more comfortable, then they should. What is sad is that many women feel discomfort with nursing in public in the first place, and that is a problem w/ society, not with women themselves for feeling the need to use covers.

    And I agree that the sultry "come hither" look on that first model is just bizarre. They don't even look like they have babies under there. In fact, the way these pictures look gave me a new thought on nursing covers... not only is the act of breastfeeding hidden, but the entire baby is hidden, sending the message that seeing a baby in public is unfashionable? Our society sees kids as inconveniences and burdens, so hiding them completely under the covers... hmm. I seriously don't think those models are even holding anything under those covers at all!

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  67. I just Googled 'nursing covers' to see what advertisements would come up and surprisingly enough there were plenty of other ad pictures with non-supermodel moms. It was nice to see the other types of moms out there, because there are so many different kinds if us! I'm just thankful we live in a country that provides us choices, to cover or not to cover, at least we have the right to decide. Good post and great commentary.

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  68. Melanie, if this was facebook I would have "liked" your comment... I also get uneasy when women say I don't mind nursing uncovered but I do it because my husband wants me too - makes me feel oppressed and its not even me.
    And about in someone else's home, yes I agree but it still annoys. At a distant relative's house who I suspect did not like NIP invited me in and gave me a little tour and said at the guest bedroom, rather pointedly "and this is where you can nurse" - I just wanted to leave. - but I did go nurse there to be polite.

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  69. i'm uneasy with the marketing of them as somehow essential to your success in breastfeeding, but i found covers to be useful at certain stages of my child's development.

    i happily nursed covered and uncovered out and about for 24 months. earlier on, even with my post-partum belly on display, i had no problem nursing without any kind of cover.

    once my son became more engaged with the world, he was so easily distracted that i had to cover him with a light gauze blanket to help him focus on nursing. a nursing necklace wasn't enough to hold his attention.

    and by the time he was 20 months, he wanted to sit straddling my lap, uncovered, which seemed to make a lot of people uncomfortable (both his age and the position).

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  70. Rixa,

    This is a great analysis. Please keep up this research and disseminate widely!

    Regards,
    Canadian academic and breastfeedin' mama

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  71. Oh wonderful blog ,What you want to say is right but not for everybody. It varies from culture to culture. If you will move towards the village this type of cover we will never find , everything done openly.. Baby Slings

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  72. Thank you for this article! I have always nursed in public without a cover and now I feel even more confident doing so! Thank you for writing an article that supports my feelings on the subject.

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  73. I bought a cover after nursing two - TWO - babies successfully without one. Why? I got tired of all the comments from the old bitties around me about how breastfeeding is so disgusting and unnatural.

    In a farming community. A DAIRY farming community.

    Thankfully God saw fit to show me the rest of their character, and the character of others to come, as well as to space out my 3rd child. I saw that people are going to find something to, quite frankly, bitch about no matter what the subject - whether the baby was dressed too warmly or needed a hat or if I birthed at home or drugged to the hilt - it frankly didn't matter.

    So my hooter hider or boobie blanket or whatever the heck it's called is still in the same box I put it in preparation for the eventual baby #3. And #3 is now 8 months old and has been nursed everywhere from the front row of church (I'm the pastor's wife!) to a closing on a house to parks, malls, parades, coffee shops, and soon to be my third to be nursed on a plane. Without a cover.

    (Caption: Peek-a-boob!)

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  74. Here's my caption(in my sweetest mommy voice)...

    "Hi little one! No, you can't come out yet. What you're doing is inappropriate!"


    One more thing I want to say to respond to some of the people who have commented here...

    Why do so many people equate nursing uncovered in public with completely exposed breasts? They treat it like we are walking around completely naked or something with no respect for our bodies. I am able to nurse in public WITHOUT a cover and WITHOUT feeling like I'm showing my breasts to the whole world...and WITHOUT ANY sort of special clothing. I place my babies into position and pull up my shirt and bra up for them to latch on. My shirt still covers most of my breast on top and the baby covers most of my mom tummy below. It feels simple, natural, and "modest" to me.

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    1. I just wear a cami with adjustable straps under all my shirts. I adjust the straps as long as they will go, so that I can pull them out through my sleeve. Then the cami covers my gut and my shirt covers my top. Add baby and there's basically nothing showing.

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  75. I like Steff's caption...made me laugh!

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  76. I'm a Brit married to an American, and when we got a vast floral nursing bib in a box of baby gifts from the US while I was expecting my first baby, we were both utterly baffled. My husband was saying 'Is it a changing cover thingummy..? Is it a cape? Does it go around the baby's neck? It's too big, surely?'

    Then it slowly dawned on us what it was for, and my husband turned to me with a huge grin: 'Babe, I think you're supposed to wear it! Like a bib! So nobody sees any BOSOMS!' And then we both fell about laughing hysterically, because neither of us had ever seen a woman wearing one of these things and it struck us as old-fashioned as douches or girdles.

    We're living in the US now, and I still have to smother a giggle every time I see a woman nursing under one of those floral monstrosities. I used to just drape a cardigan or coat over one shoulder (or, if at the pool, a towel) when nursing if I felt I needed more cover - such as when I was sitting next to a stranger on public transport, for example. I still can't imagine unveiling a vast bib and donning it; that just seems to call attention to what you're doing, surely..?

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    1. How are douches old fashioned? I douche every day (yes, without soap, I'm not an idiot). Especially during my period it makes me feel less sticky. My doctor approves, so please, leave other people to make their own choices, without ridiculing them off hand.

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  77. I agree, mostly. While the points you brought up were good ones I might mention a story I just read. A lady was breastfeeding on a parkbench while her kids played on the playground. She wasn't wearing a cover and some near by teen boys took a pic of her boobs as they walked past, well what they could see was alot in the context of the pic. They txt it to all their friends. In the pic you couldn't see that the woman was breastfeeding. All you could see wasteh side of her face looking douwn and her breast as she was putting things away.
    As it turns out the parents found the photo and called the cops and she was arrested for exposing herself to minors! Outraged she is still fighting to prove she was breastfeeding in public. I feel bad for her. I don't use covers at home andI have a boy. I dont use them at church in the mothers room, but in public I do because as pureand innocent as feeding your baby is, men are pigs andonly see boobs. And this poor lady is suffering for it. She will probably get the charges dropped, but the hastle and reputation will follow her forever.
    So I choose to cover, in certian situation only. And in those cases the bibs are cute, stylish, and handy. I have 2. They also work well for getting my baby to sleep when its daylight out and we are out and about.
    We are counseled by our church leaders in modesty for a reason. I'm not ashamed to breastfeed, I just don't want strangers to be able to see my private and intimate parts. And with that when ever you mention breastfeeding to men they always look down at your boobs. and I dont want anyone else thinking about me sexually, as men can be prone to doing when they see breastfeeding women.

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  78. What about the completely distraction-prone babies? You know the ones that take a sip, unlatch, look at the dog, take another sip, look at the lady across the way, etc, etc...Fine sometimes, but sometimes you just need them to sit down to lunch! Covers are really helpful to get some babies to focus a bit more.

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  79. Re: distraction-prone babies, I commented about this earlier on (if you had time to wade through 80+ comments!) This is when a cover/blanket can come in handy. I've done this a few times myself when my baby would just not eat because she was too busy checking everything out. It's not that nursing covers are ALL BAD. But I did want to explore some of the more negative ramifications of that particular object, in our current social setting.

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  80. I think a huge piece of the article that a lot of gals seem to be missing is (as Rixa has said twice) that women who use covers aren't bad. There is a huge difference between women who use them because they WANT to (distractable babies, body insecurities, modesty, etc.) and women who feel that they HAVE to. This is the whole point. It isn't okay for our culture to tell women that they HAVE to use covers because bfing isn't modest, and I think the point was that it would be cool if there wasn't a need at all. It doesn't mean no one could/should use them, just not out of cultural obligation (especially, in my opinion, if the very act of using a cover compromises the breastfeeding itself).

    Also, this is sort of a side-step, but wow, Lisa. I hope that you were being sort of cutesie and that you don't REALLY believe that all men are pigs and that all men think about is sex! (That, to me, is like a man saying that all women are bitches. Yikes.) Some men may be pigs, and some might think about sex non-stop, but I have never personally met a man that thought breastfeeding was a huge turn-on other than Joey from Friends. :)

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  81. I take huge issue with the implication that women who NIP without a cover are being IMmodest. It is implied here. Many of us have chosen, even against our own comfort levels, to nurse our babies and toddlers!! in public as part of educating and making changes. I choose to live a modest life, I modify clothes I purchase, I lengthen my daughters' skirts, I teach my children about modesty. Even my husband chooses to wear a rash guard while swimming! But nursing your baby without a cover is not being immodest. It shouldn't be illegal anywhere, and the parents of those teenaged boys should have been completely SCANDALIZED that their sons took pictures of a breastfeeding woman.

    Hands, feet, legs, ears and other body parts are very sensitive and can be extremely interesting in a sexual way. They can also be seen in public. Nope, I'm not going to go without a shirt. BUT. I am going to breastfeed my babies without a cover. None of them would stand for it anyway.

    The only reason I didn't BF the last 2 in sacrament meeting is because they wouldn't nurse in there--they would just look all around at the lights, the organ, the other people, etc. I had to leave the room. They just whipped off a blanket or cover.

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  82. My husband has a problem with the thought of someone, especially another man seeing my breasts. That being said, he hates more seeing and hearing our any of our children screaming because they are hungry when we are in public. I do half and half. If my baby just wants comfort and to play with my breasts, I use her blanky (satin, and the size of a washcloth) to cover my breast as best as I can. She mostly likes to rub the corner of it and my skin anyway. If she is actually eating, I don't usually worry about it. Especially if I'm at a department store or the park where people are pretty much doing their own thing anyway. My kids never liked an actual cover over their bodies. I can't cover up their legs or any part of their face or head. Arms and torso usually are ok, but that is usally when it is cold in the house or outside and I'm wrapping them for warmth. As much as my hubby isn't a fan of most women exposing their breasts in public for any reason, he thinks the ads for nursing covers are ridiculous, and when he actually sees them in public, he laughs because you almost ALWAYS see a baby trying to kick or grab it off anyway.

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  83. Soon after my son was born, I read somewhere that American women have such a hard time breastfeeding because they don't SEE it anywhere! So I've made it my personal mission to breastfeed in public without feeling embarrassed.

    However, I will point out that I'm pretty modest, and while I don't use a cover, I'm doubtful anyone in public has seen any more skin on me while I breastfeed than they would see at the beach! When you're breastfeeding, there's ways to position your baby's head and be ready when they come off that you can avoid any blatant exposure of your nipples.

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  84. Caption for the photo:
    On the left -- "Oh, look! A baby at my breast!"
    On the right -- "Wait, who are you?"
    (typed while breastfeeding my 1-year-old sans cover :)

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  85. "notice that I was very careful to talk about nursing covers, not the women who use them--there's a big difference"


    but you DID talk negatively about the women (models) using them...

    "This first photo shows a heavily made-up woman with false eyelashes, bleached hair, and an inviting, seductive expression. You could easily transplant her head onto the body of a Victoria's Secret model selling lingerie or swimwear...models with whitened teeth, false eyelashes, and carefully groomed hair."

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  86. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  87. I hate nursing covers. I want to yank them off women--be free! What you're doing is NOT dirty, gross, or deserve to be hidden!

    If it's absolutely the only way you can nurse in public because you are embarrassed, you don't have to be embarrassed and fine, use a cover. But you don't need to!

    It's not like we don't know what's going on under there. (What is she doing? Is she working on a magic trick? Some sort of hideous tumor?) I want women to feel free and to normalize breastfeeding again. I couldn't possibly agree more with your post. I've been calling them burkas for years, BECAUSE THEY ARE.

    I noticed a woman use one behind a drawn curtain in the back corner of our tiny mother's lounge. OH, SISTER!

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  88. LOVE this post!! I have always hated those covers too, and I completely agree with all your reasons.
    When I nurse at my Mother-In-Law's house, she always walks over to me and puts a blaket over me and baby. "oh here you go dear" - ahh, I want to scream. These totally are designed by someone like her ;)

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  89. I just ordered one of these covers online yesterday. Although it was already ordered, nothing on this thread would have changed my mind. I would NEVER let a bunch of opinionated women tell me what or how or where to breastfeed. Live and let live gals and maybe get a life!

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  90. I bought one of these covers when I had my first baby, because I thought that's what you do...
    BUT...baby HATED it...wouldn't feed under it...he screamed (It was summertime, after all)

    So I was liberated by my infant, and never looked back!

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  91. I donot think what I am doing is gross or unnatural when I cover up in public but I feel it is not my job to educate the whole damn world on BF. My daughter sees me and I see her, we laugh, we smile so what is it to you so opinionated women what the hell i do? I am still giving her the best nutrients she could ever have when she needs it on command... so what does the damn fabric matter to you? I nurse at home in front of my own children, so there is my contribution to society in educating. I DON'T WANT MY BOOB OUT IF I CAN HELP IT. I don't have it down to a graceful art so rather than having the pressure of gettin down to a "T" we just go with it how it happens. Be happy they are loving and feeding their children with compassion and grace because pick up a news paper and see how many unfit parents there really are in the world making headlines in the same society that you have a problem with not wanting to see breastfeeding. Get off your high horses and let those that want to cover in public be with their ugly fabric and mystery package underneath be. Give them so credit. Besides, I do still look hot when I cover up... I don't have to be ugly to BF. I feel no pressure to cover up...it is my choice. You guys are just bullies from school who never change, judging, laughing and pointing because others are never to your standards. I am free in public to feed my baby. I just plop my breast out and let her feed under our cover. If she didnt like the cover, we'd work on the execusion to perfect it and not use a cover but she could care less as long as her belly is getting full. Laugh all you want but I am getting the job done. If you do not like the way I interpreted your essay then maybe you should view your execution on the matter. I felt like I was being lashed out at and critisized for my choosing. You have a problem with the cover then you have a problem with every women who chooses to use one. Thanks for the support for fellow breastfeeders... you 're a real inspiration. *sarcasm

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  92. On the Udder Covers page ELSA looks like she is going for a lobster dinner!LOL LOL LOL! By the lookon her face, she hates the cover too!
    I agree with Laura the sushi snob, why would they namethe compant something that implied we are cows? Guess they were playing of the Under Covers brand nameand trying to be cutsie at the same time.

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  93. I enjoy the conversation this entry has stimulated. But I must say, while breasts do serve a non-sexual purpose, they also serve a sexual one. My vagina also serves as a birth canal however, you won't find my labia flapping in the breeze (at least not in public!)

    And I agree it IS partly cultural. But this is the culture we live in. A few rogue women flashing their breasts will not change people's feelings of discomfort. Rather, it will likely make people look away and get embarrassed...not really what I find productive or culturally sensitive.

    Just my thoughts on the topic. (:

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  94. But people don't give brth in public, or have sex, or urinate. People DO eat in public, babies included!

    One does not have to use a cover to prevent their breasts from being flashed... my shirt covers me just fine when i lift it from the bottom.

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  95. I couldn't disagree more with this post. I was recently eating out with my family and a woman sitting right in front of me and my 6yr old son proceeded to drop her shirt and breastfeed while having a conversation with my son and I. I was horrified. My son looked at me and I had to immediately try and turn his attention to something else (which lets face it, was NOT easy) and later that night try to explain why we teach him privacy between girls and boys but yet why that lady pulled out her breast without thinking twice in front of him. I agree! I think breastfeeding is great and should be accepted anywhere with everyone but there are times where modesty and privacy is best. Also, while we (who think breastfeeding covers are a great idea for some circumstances) are asked to respect those who openly breastfeed in public, why aren't we respected in not wanting our younger children who can be very confused as my son was?

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  96. I love your post and the way you show that it's NOT a personnal thing about do you breastfeed with the cover or not, but a philophical question about WHY DOES OUR SOCIETY MAKES SOME OF US FEAL LIKE WE NEED THIS COVER?!
    I had never even thought this existed before my child was 2 years old and i saw one of thises covers for the first time. it was so awkward seing it, it felt realy realy strange. thanks for adressing this and changing some people's mind on it!
    Seems like you did a good job (check the amounts on comments and Facebook links :o)
    Take care,
    PSM i LOVE this little comic drawing about breastfeeding in public, that you can find here http://matteovoyage.canalblog.com/archives/2011/01/23/20202483.html

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  97. For everyone saying that breasts do not physiologically play a sexual role in the human body, you are completely wrong. Breasts, like pubic hair are secondary sex characteristics. Our bodies produce pheromones that linger in the pubic hair to heighten sexual attraction. The breast has sensitive nerve endings that if stimulated can cause a woman to climax. Now, if its only purpose is to feed an infant, than why does it physiologically and sexually attract the opposite sex? Here is something that I read that is quite interesting.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breast#cite_ref-NakedApe_24-0

    "In some cultures breasts play a role in human sexual activity. Breasts and especially the nipple are one of a woman's erogenous zones. They are sensitive to the touch as they have many nerve endings; and it is common to press or massage them with hands or orally before or during sexual activity. Some women can achieve breast orgasms. On sexual arousal breast size increases, venous patterns across the breasts become more visible, and nipples harden. Compared to other primates, human breasts are proportionately large throughout adult females' lives. Some writers have suggested that they may have evolved as a visual signal of sexual maturity and fertility.[45]
    Many people regard the female human body, of which breasts are an important aspect, to be aesthetically pleasing, as well as erotic. Research conducted at the Victoria University of Wellington showed that breasts are often the first thing men look at, and for a longer time than other body parts.[46] The writers of the study had initially speculated that the reason for this is due to endocrinology with larger breasts indicating higher levels of estrogen and a sign of greater fertility,[46][47] but the researchers said that "Men may be looking more often at the breasts because they are simply aesthetically pleasing, regardless of the size."[46]
    Many people regard bare female breasts to be erotic, and they can elicit heightened sexual desires in some men in some cultures. Some people show a sexual interest in female breasts distinct from that of the person, which may be regarded as a breast fetish.[48]"


    This is why wearing a nursing cover is not something to look down on. Breasts are a private thing, whether you are breastfeeding or not. They are not just milking machines, they are part of a female's sexuality. This isn't something that was learned environmentally, this is something that is physiologically ingrained into our beings.

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    1. I realize this post is really old, but it just irks me too much to leave it unanswered.
      Yes, breasts can be used in a sexual way. Yes, they have sensitive nerve endings. So do your fingertips. A bodypart's ability to be enjoyed during a sexual act or in a sexually arousing way is in no way indicative of its primary function.
      Yes, breasts form at puberty at the same time as other signs of sexual maturity arrive. They do so because if you use your body to have sex, you will likely produce a child, and a mother's body needs to have a way to feed that child. They do not do so because you cannot have sex without them. They do not do so because you're not sexually appealing without them. They do not do so because you need them to achieve orgasm or any level of enjoyment of sexual activity. They do so because sexual activity can produce babies, and babies need food. And if you want to argue that they are sexual because they are found sexually attractive, then you must also concede that every aspect of a healthy persons body must be considered to be sexual, because a healthy person's body, which appears capable of helping to create and sustain the life of a child will be sexually appealing to someone.
      To answer the question at the end of your first paragraph (that I believe you probably intended to be rhetorical, but nevertheless...), because they are a signal that sex with that person is likely to create a child who will be well-nourished and physically cared for throughout infancy and will be that much more likely to grow to adulthood and pass on your genes to another generation themselves. They are attractive because sex is for procreation (not exclusively, but biologically, that is why we have and want it), and procreation with people who can't support/sustain the lives they create is undesirable. Period. The end.

      Delete
  98. Well, "anonymous," sometimes men find stimulation of their nipples to be a turn on and part of sexual foreplay. So perhaps they shouldn't be allowed to take shirts off at public pools, gyms, while jogging along the sidewalk through town? Additionally, many women enjoy looking at a man's bare chest in a sexual way. So if men want to be topless in the gym, maybe they should wear special "exercising covers" then?

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    1. the overwhelmingly large majority of porn traffic is men. You can't argue that. If men thought the same way as women, nursing in public would not be an issue for me. That's why women (and not men) need to cover up.

      Delete
  99. I was a pretty shy public nurser when we first started out. Eventually I got over it and the shame associated with it. I have nursed my daughter even while grocery shopping, one handing holding her up and the other hand pushing the cart. No one even noticed. I have been in public places and people have come up to admire my daughter, not realizing she was nursing. I have used one of those covers and both DD and I hated it. It was clumsy and she didn't want to be under that hot shade.

    I LOVE the awareness NIP brings. How many times I have been told, "I didn't even realize you were nursing." I think nursing in general is great no matter how you do it, covered or not. But I think we all deserve the right to make our choice without judgement.

    I also want to say, my toddler already knows what my breasts are for (future bf'er, I hope). She points at them and says, "baby". Yes, they are for feeding babies. I fed her for a year until she self weaned and will feed her brother when he arrives until he decides he is done too.

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  100. I'll just put my comment here instead of pasting bits of it in reply to everybody else...

    There is no shame in feeding your child, but that is a sacred, special thing you share with your child, not the gawking world, and if a cover is what helps you to do it in a way that is easy and comfortable for you and your baby, so be it. Something so important should be respected. It's not that we hide them because they are dirty (they're not), but because we are reserving it for those who appreciate and respect it.

    I'd much rather have someone breastfeed with a cover and struggle a little figuring it out than be too embarrassed to try without one. We don't have to provide free examples in order for people to learn how to breastfeed - they can ask! Often hospitals have lactation consultants too that help you after the birth.

    In a world where many women don't breastfeed, I don't understand why those who recognize its importance are still persecuting other women simply because of HOW they choose to breastfeed. It is wrong to condemn others, especially because there are always reasons for her decision. Someone may cover out of modesty, respect (for the act, her body, and others who may be uncomfortable, especially male family members), a feeling of sacredness as she provides life-sustaining nourishment for the child God has entrusted to her care, comfort (whether that be something as simple as not having to worry about your baby exposing you or something as complex as healing from a traumatic experience such as rape or other sexual abuses), to keep the baby focused, or any other number of reasons. Others may choose to not cover because they are able to nurse without exposing themselves (whether by their own skill or because they have a docile baby), because their child hates the cover, or some other reason. However, refusing to wear a cover despite others being uncomfortable with it is uncaring and negates their efforts to make uncovered breastfeeding more normal. It will be more normal when more women start breastfeeding again instead of using formula, when there isn't such a fight about the right way, and when people respect their bodies and recognize that some people's respect is a lot more modest than others'.

    Also, just because breasts feed children doesn't mean that they aren't also sexual, and no matter what we do, there will always be somebody who gets turned on by the sight of your breasts, but the only person that should have that reaction is your husband.

    Yes, eye contact is important, but the boning inserted in the cover provides a good window to watch your child while blocking out the rest of the world from distracting from that private, special moment.

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  101. La Siciliana6/1/12, 12:44 PM

    OMG this whole Lactivist BS is too much! I intend to BF my bebes, and even do extended nursing into toddlerhood, I know breast is best and will do what I need to do to give my bebes the best nutrients and the nurturing affection from mami that BFing gives. THAT BEING SAID, BFing should be about feeding your bebe, not about making some political statement or trying to shove your views down other people's throats! People "need" to see you BFing so it can become the cultural norm? Give me a break, yes there are some cultures where breasts are on display, normalized and non-sexual, but in this society that is not the case. If you don't like it, go move to Africa or South East Asia! I'm so sick of this whole "lactivist" movement of imposing, self-righteous granola women with something to prove, thinking that they are going to save the world and change society with their breasts! GIVE ME A BREAK LADY YOU ARE NOT THAT SPECIAL. Yes, feed your bebes, yes, educate your friends and family members IF they are interested, yes nurse in public, with our without a cover, but don't make it about proving a point to society! At that point it's not even about mami and bebe connecting anymore, it's not about feeding anymore, it's about trying to change people's views, which is so "udderly" stupid (yes I said it, lol).
    And what is this whole tangent about the women in these ads looking like Victoria's Secret models? That her bleached hair, fake eyelashes and white teeth sexualize her image BFing? Honestly, some women look like that. Is it wrong to look your best, be beautiful, wear make up and still be a mom? FYI not all mothers are birkenstock-wearing, hairy-pitted, fat and ugly with no make up! The models in these ads do not look unrealistic for a young mami from California, I've seen plenty of young moms who look like that, and I plan on keeping myself up through and after pregnancy as well. Sorry to all the ladies that let themselves go and turned from woman into mom, but it CAN be done, I have friends who are living proof. DON'T HATE just because some women DO make themselves up to look sexy! If you can't keep yourself up that's your problem.
    But I digress, my main point is whether you are sexy/beautiful or not, whether you use a cover or not, whether you BF in public or not, the BOTTOM LINE IS that BFing should be just that, about BFing, about making a special connection with your bebe and feeding, NOT ABOUT CHANGING SOCIETY OR MAKING A F-ING STATEMENT! Just feed your own damn bebe, there's no need to look down your nose at other women who BF in a different way, or even women who bottle feed. To each her own. And it's not your job or responsibility to "teach" society a lesson, stop acting like we as women/mothers have such a huge cross to bear!! GET OVER YOURSELF and just feed your own bebe!

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    1. wow, siciliana, quite a rant. birkenstock-wearing, hairy-pitted..??? ha. i think it'[d be best for you to wait until you have children of your own before trying to jump on the media-driven bandwagon of the "mommy wars." you clearly don't know what you are talking about if you think that moms who want t normalize breastfeeding are just trying to "make a f-ing statement." why such anger that you have to type in caps and cuss???

      Delete
    2. I was drawn to this blog from a friend's post on nursing and have found this conversation very interesting.
      I agree with La Siciliana and the other mothers who defend using nursing covers in public places. Having been a nursing mom myself years ago with my daughter, I covered up out of respect for those around me but also out of modesty. And when I nursed my daughter in the hospital after giving birth, my folks left the room so I could do so in private. Besides the nurses and my husband (and baby of course) no one saw my breasts. When I see women openly nursing in public places (or even during a party or whatnot) it makes me extremely comfortable. The same way that overly expressive PDA between couples makes me uncomfortable. I just believe some things should be done in private.
      To illustrate my point, and to repeat a point that another commenter made, is why not expose our vaginas to the public? They are sacred and natural and given from God (as several posts have described breasts). They create life, not only through intercourse but also in birth.
      Beggers can't be choosers. To say that women should be able to expose their breasts to nurse their children is exactly the same argument as asking why we don't expose our other body parts. They are all perfectly natural, right?

      Frankly, I don't want to see your breasts. And if I was curious and wanted advice, I should ask for it. To force people to see it is ridiculous. For those mothers who nurse uncovered because its natural, well, do you shave your legs and underarms? Do you cut your hair and file your nails? Do you wear clothes? If so you are a hypocrite. And yes, it is all relative. Like I said, beggers can't be choosers. To say that breasts are not sexual and should only be viewed as a means to feed your child is the same as saying that sex should only be used to procreate. It is wrong to think this.
      And for those people who like to compare our culture to others and how we as a society need to change our views towards breastfeeding in public I have this to say. Some cultures view women's hair as sexual and sacred, which is why women of those countries/religious beliefs cover their hair. If we are trying to adopt other cultures are you prepared to demand that all women cover their hair?
      Also, in some cultures morbidly obese women are seen as beautiful and ideal. We know it is not healthy to be obese or overweight, but is that something you want to adopt?
      Women should cover up when nursing in public because it is a private moment using private parts. No one should be forced to see your breasts because you are trying to change society's views and empower women. You have the opportunity to nurse openly in your home so why not respect others while in public?
      If breastfeeding is so natural an act, why do we have stalls in restrooms? Why don't people urinate and have bowel movements in front of others? Afterall, we have to do those things to live, right? I am being completely serious here. If women menstrating is perfectly natural, why don't women change their tampons or pads in public?
      Some cultures think its a compliment to the chef to belch or pass gas in front of everyone after a large meal, is that something you want America to adopt?
      Beggers can't be choosers. Period.

      Delete
    3. Susi, if you are really being serious when comparing breastfeeding with urinating and such, then I will be totally serious too: do you eat in public? Do you think others should be allowed to eat in public, or should we have "eating stalls" so nobody sees anyone else eat in a restaurant? If eating in public is okay, then babies should be able to eat their normal food in public. Or should we all get feeding tubes when out in public so as not to offend anyone seeing us eat in our normal way, by chewing food in our mouths? Is it okay to comfort upset children in public? Can a mother hug her child, give him/her a pacifier when he/she is crying in public? Then breastfeeding is okay too, because it is a mother comforting her child. Nursing is merely feeding and comforting a child. If it's okay to feed and comfort people in front of others, then nursing is okay in front of others.

      The reason we can't urinate/defacate/change tampons (really??? I have never heard anyone make that comparison, and I thought I'd heard them all!!) in public is because those things are *unsanitary.* They pose public health risks. Breastfeeding a baby in public is not unsanitary. What's more, it doesn't make a mess the way those other actions would - the milk goes into the baby, not on the floor where the urine would go if you were peeing in public. Although it is okay for one group of the population to urinate/defecate in public: babies. ;) Babies can't wait for a more socially acceptable time. And they shouldn't have to wait to eat or eat in artificial ways because of grown people's personal hang-ups.

      Delete
    4. My point was that nursing without a cover DOES expose private parts- breasts, just like using the bathroom. My argument was that people, such as yourself, are using nursing in public as a way to change our society's views about breasts. If you think its just about eating in public for kids, then why not cover it up? It is possible to nurse while lifting up your shirt and still not expose your entire breast. But some women seem to be on a crusade to change our culture. That was my point, we aren't other cultures. We are Americans and here, breasts are considered private parts regardless of their function at the time. Exposing them should not be about the context.

      Comforting children, as you compare to breastfeeding, by hugging or giving a pacifier does not expose any body parts, unless I missed that memo.
      My argument wasn't about what's sanitary and what's not. I certainly never suggested people start peeing on the floor like you said, so please don't put words in my mouth. That would certainly be a health risk. My point was that urinating is just as natural and "necessary" (as some would argue) act as breastfeeding so if nursing moms are really out there to "educate" others on how babies are supposed to nurse, why are restroom stall partitions opaque and not see-through? Why are mens and women's restrooms (in most cases) separate if we are supposed to be educating eachother on this stuff and its natural and normal?
      Case in point: I don't expose my private parts while eating in public, so you can't use that argument, sorry.

      Delete
    5. Also, some cultures eat everything with their hands. Is this the "normal" way you are referring? Are you suggesting Americans do away with using utensils for every meal? We aren't other cultures, we're Americans.

      Delete
  102. "If you think its just about eating in public for kids, then why not cover it up?"

    Because people don't eat in public under covers. Particularly when it's really hot, many babies won't stand for it anyway.

    "It is possible to nurse while lifting up your shirt and still not expose your entire breast."

    Absolutely, this is how I nurse. No cover required; my shirt pretty much does it all for me. If a woman has a squirmy baby, or one who is fussy/having latch problems and you see a flash of breast as she struggles, I assure you, she wasn't trying to show you her breast. Why not be sympathetic as she is trying to give her baby its normal food and is having a hard time? Let's not make this harder for her than it already may be.

    "My point was that urinating is just as natural and "necessary" (as some would argue) act as breastfeeding so if nursing moms are really out there to "educate" others on how babies are supposed to nurse, why are restroom stall partitions opaque and not see-through?"

    I am confused at what you mean here... are you saying I think that public restrooms should be about educating other people on how to use the toilet? Or are you saying that the purpose of bathroom stalls is for mothers to go into them to nurse and therefore they are opaque because nursing has to be hidden? Neither of these makes any sense, so I am trying to understand...

    "Why are mens and women's restrooms (in most cases) separate if we are supposed to be educating eachother on this stuff and its natural and normal?"

    Huh? I never said that people should be educating each other on the genitals and toileting habits of the opposite sex. You keep bringing up bathrooms; are you trying to say that nursing is a bathroom activity?

    "so you can't use that argument, sorry."

    So you get to dictate what arguments people are able to use? Then it may be a waste of my time to even try if you're going to discount arguments with statements like that. Of course you don't expose any "private parts" while eating; that's not the way adults were designed to eat. Breastfeeding a baby is not "cultural," it's biological.

    "some cultures eat everything with their hands. Is this the "normal" way you are referring? Are you suggesting Americans do away with using utensils for every meal? We aren't other cultures, we're Americans."

    All babies, regardless of culture, were designed to drink milk from their mothers' breasts. That is their normal way of eating. Are you saying that all adults were biologically designed to eat with our hands? Would it interfere with our proper hand coordination development to use forks in the way that it would interfere with a baby's proper jaw development by sucking on a bottle nipple instead of a breast?

    By "normal" way of eating for adults, I mean through our mouths and chewing. All cultures find that to be acceptable as far as I know.

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  103. However, there are quite a number of foods that Americans eat with their hands anyway... burgers, pizza, sandwiches, fresh fruits, cheese and crackers... so by saying that eating with our hands is supposed to be the norm for adults (as compared to feeding from the breast being the norm for babies) yet we still use utensils, couldn't it be said that feeding a baby by using a breast pump and a bottle is like an adult preparing a burger at home, putting it in a container, and then eating it by cutting it up w/ a knife and fork? Would we expect adults to deviate from their regular way of eating a burger like this the way we expect babies to eat their milk that has been prepared and stored and then fed to them using a "utensil" - a bottle? Burgers aren't eaten w/ utensils. Breastmilk isn't either. Both can be, sure, but do we really expect people to change the way a food is made to be eaten just because some people find it offensive?

    Or do we expect everyone who eats in a "natural" way to get under a cover before doing so? Everyone in McDonald's would be under a cover for eating with their hands, ha.

    Really, the bottom line is that nursing moms just want to feed their babies, and if along the way their doing so helps another nursing mom learn to feel more comfortable with nursing, then what is so wrong w/ that? Very, very few nursing moms actually want you to see their breasts! Why not go after the ones who actually are flaunting it and do want you to notice their breasts - the teen girls in low-cut shirts and the people in Abercrombie and Victoria's Secret ads?

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    1. Erin, I think nearly every person would define what's "normal" and "natural" with varying views. That's part of what makes our society diverse.
      What bothers me, for example, are statements like these made from the author of this blog:
      "In order to breastfeed successfully, women need to watch other women nurse their babies."
      Who is she to say what every woman needs to do in order to nurse her child? A new mom is going to "fail" at nursing if she doesn't sit and watch other moms nurse? Not only is this untrue, but it undermines those who work in postpartum care like Lactation Consultants and nurses who are paid to assist new moms with nursing. They are educated in this area and obviously have a passion for it. Maybe SOME moms learn by example while others learn by instruction. I've known many moms, including myself, who never stopped and stared at women openly nursing in order to nurse our own kids...and we did just fine.
      Another bothersome statement from this blog post is this:
      "Nursing covers make breastfeeding unnecessarily complicated by placing a layer of fabric between the mother and her baby. This layer keeps mothers and babies from making eye contact and visually interacting."
      Um, I'm sorry but when I used one, I never had a layer of fabric between me and my daughter....the cover goes OVER my baby and my chest. I was also able to maintain eye contact as well as interaction. It covers us from the front and side, not the top so I can still look down and we can see eachother.
      The photos of these apron-looking covers is completely mocking the intended purpose of nursing covers. I have actually never seen any of those ones pictured, that cover your entire body basically. The ones I've used and seen are very small and simple, similar to a tiny baby sling/wrap or like a tiny blanket. Nothing in scale to those shown above.
      Another statement from this post:
      "Nursing covers reinforce women's status--and their breasts in particular--as objects of sexual desire. By hiding breastfeeding, they send a message that nursing a baby is the equivalent of a sexual act."
      I don't know of anyone who thinks of breastfeeding as an equivalent to a sexual act. It really, really bothers me when people generalize the public like this. Its not the act of breastfeeding in public that bothers people (me included), its the exposure of breasts. And like I mentioned in a previous reply and several other people commented on as well, breasts are regarded in our culture as "private" and "sexual." Regardless of the context of their exposure that's how it is. And that was why I used the examples of going to the bathroom and intercourse because those acts also use private parts and are done in private (mostly).
      I think your example of McDonald's and eating using our hands actually illustrates MY point. There are definitely circumstances where we as Americans eat with our hands openly and its totally fine--because its practical for that type of food (fruits, burgers, fries, etc). The same way that its practical for a baby to be nursed openly at home or in private. But its regarded as very poor manners and a little disgusting to see someone eating in public, for example, noodles or rice, with bare hands. But in other cultures that's totally fine. Same way that when babies are nursed in public--in our culture, breasts should be covered.
      No one is saying that babies should eat all their meals from a bottle, or that Americans should eat all meals with their hands or all meals with utensils. Its what's appropriate at the time. In public, breasts should not be exposed, period.
      But you are right, Erin, I am after those moms who are flaunting it and want you to notice their breasts-- because they are making the special act of nursing into a cultural statement, changing the focus on nourishing their baby into a focus on women equality or whatever.
      This is my last post here. Thanks

      Delete
  104. I have never seen a woman "flaunting" her breasts while nursing in public. Has anyone here seen that??

    The photos above are taken of real nursing covers. of course they don't all look like that, but these are real ones, apparently.

    If we are really talking about cultural norms here, well, sadly, in the USA bottlefeeding is the cultural norm (meaning that is the way the vast majority of people feed their babies over the first 12 months of their lives). If it's inappropriate to eat in certain ways based on culture rather than biology, then bottle feeding must be the appropriate thing to do here.

    Sure, LCs can be helpful... but truly, if you ask any LC worth their weight in gold, they will be the first to tell you that they hope their line of work will one day be unnecessary... they are working to help moms overcome breastfeeding problems because they are passionate about breastfeeding, so they would love it if moms just never had breastfeeding problems to start with. We wouldn't have as many problems if nursing was a normal part of our everyday lives and we grew up seeing it - not because it was "flaunted" at us, but because it was just a normal, everyday occurrence around us.

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  105. Something I think you may fail to understand is some women wear underclothing that is not for public viewing (and it's not just "Mormons"). Some of us cover up not out of embarrassment, not out of fear of society's fear of breastfeeding, but out of a desire to keep certain things that we hold sacred private and sacred. Nursing covers are a much easier way to do that than a blanket often is. I've tried it both ways, and trust me, it's an awful lot easier to keep a nursing cover with a strap around my neck on with a wiggly baby than it is to keep a blanket on and cover those things that I have been asked not to show to the general public. Yes, they can look silly, and I don't agree with some of the clever names they have been given, but all the same, they're not as ridiculous as you make them out to be, they are really rather convenient.

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  106. We ended up at Chic Fil A Family Night here at *** (in NC) since we were late for my older DD's class. (Date: May 9, 2013)

    I was asked by an employee

    "I am asking politely, can you not breastfeed your baby. I have had 2 men (or did she saw a few men?) make complaints."

    I said, "No, by law, I am allowed to breasteed"

    "I know that. But this is a Christian Facility"

    I said, "If you want to use that line, then, FYI, Jesus was breastfed"

    "I know that. But, he probably wasn't breastfed so openly."

    I said, "I doubt that. In those days, Breastfeeding was the standard, the normal"

    I finished my statement, "My baby needs to nurse. My older child is playing. I will continue to nurse. If the men have an issue with it, they can leave or not look."

    So, I continued my nursing.

    Lucky for the facility, it was time for me to leave soon, but I made sure not to rush my 6 week old and held out for another 30 minutes just to make a point.

    I AM DOING NOTHING WRONG. Actually, I am doing everything right!

    DANG IT!!!!... I forgot to ask that bottle feeding mom to stop feeding her baby!

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    Replies
    1. The "Christian facility" thing cracks me up and makes me roll my eyes...so what, nursing in public is un-Christian? I love that you brought up Jesus being breastfed.

      Delete
  107. Rixa,

    THANK YOU. Every point you made is valid and thought-provoking. As a young Mother-to-Be who plans wholeheartedly to nurse uncovered, I am very grateful for your words. My Husband isn't exactly on board with the whole idea yet, but I think he'll come around. I refuse to conform to the societal "norm" of breastfeeding "discreetly". Hello, what are my breasts for? Sure, they please my Husband, and I do cover them from the site of anyone else right now, but when they become my babies' source of nourishment, I will not be ashamed if men or women see me loving and feeding them. How is our society ever going to get over their twisted views regarding breasts and sexual desires, pornography, immodesty, immorality, etc., if we women don't counter the illicit behavior of other women with the pure and innocent act of nourishing human lives?

    Thank you, again. God bless you and your family. :)

    Shaylee Ann
    Mother {at} Heart: faith.love.marriage.baby

    ReplyDelete
  108. If you think your 12-year-old boy hasn't seen boobs yet, your mother probably should have breastfed you longer so your intelligence would be higher. Let's be real, Carl's Jr commercial show more skin than a nursing mother. If you think you can see my boob around my kids head while he's latched on and you find that offensive, look the other way just like you do with all the other things in the world you don't like. I cannot believe the stupid ignorant stuff people say. You are either a man or have never had a hungry breast fed only child screaming in a public place. Grow up.

    ReplyDelete

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