Friday, July 5, 2013

7QTF or 7 Reasons I Nurse in Public Without a Cover.

So, Kendra at Catholic All Year and Christine at Our Ordinary Life recently posted about nursing in public and the use or not-use (dis-use??) of a nursing cover. 

I always love a good breastfeeding conversation, so I figured I'd jump right into the cover/no-cover conversation with my thoughts. 

When Heidi was born 11-years ago, they didn't have nursing covers...not the kind they have today, with the wire around the neck.  And, I kinda just got used to nursing everywhere without a cover.

 Now, I actually do use a cover on occasion...mostly just when I'm wearing my ONE dress, because then I have to come out over the top, which pretty much makes discreet nursing impossible.   I also use it when nursing and carrying baby in front in the Kozy or Beco, because again, it is easier to come out over the top.

But, this post is about nursing WITHOUT a cover, so here are my 7 reasons why 99% of the time, I don't use a cover.


I feel much more self-conscious when I use if I'm advertising the fact that I'm nursing.  Normally to nurse, I just lift my shirt up and go..between baby's head, my arm, baby's body and the top of my shirt, everything is pretty much covered.   Honestly, a lot of times, I really do think it does just look like I'm cuddling/snuggling a baby and people really can't tell she's nursing.   In fact, I'd had people come up to me, wanting to look at the baby/touch her head only to realize once they get very close that she is nursing.

To me, the cover just screams BREASTFEEDING.


I find using a cover to be awkward as it's an extra step between baby fussing and getting baby latched on.  Not the biggest deal..but for me it would involve digging deep into a mammoth diaper bag and finding it.


Once baby can grab stuff, then the cover is just one more thing for them to grab and try to pull off and just make things generally way more indiscreet.   And, if baby doesn't pull the cover off and we are outside, the wind is likely to blow it around.  And, I hate trying to hold the cover in place while also holding baby. 

I've heard people make the argument that breastfeeding is private.  But, I really don't believe it is.  Breastfeeding is well...feeding...a baby.  And, eating is not considered private.  Besides, babies nurse a lot..I mean A LOT and it is a real hardship on moms to think they have seclude themselves or wrangle a cover (if their baby doesn't like it) just to feed their child. 


I think it's good for people to see breastfeeding...and not so much that they can actually see anything (as I said, I can be pretty covered up), but to see that it's normal and natural.  I think this is especially useful for other new moms.  Having a new baby is hard enough as it is, it can be really daunting to think you can't leave the house or having to time feedings for when you are home.  I think it's good for new moms to see other moms just casually pop the baby on while still managing to not expose themselves to everyone.  And, oftentimes, it's only other breastfeeding moms who can tell you are actually nursing. 


I think most people tend to pick up on the comfort level of others.  I truly believe that if I feel comfortable nursing in public, then it makes others feel comfortable as well and they will either not know what I'm doing, or not care (because they can't see anything anyway).   That has been my experience anyway.  If I feel comfortable, then others around me tend to feel comfortable and will talk to me or sit next to me or whatever, while if I feel uncomfortable, others tend to pick up on that and stay away.  Generally, using a cover, makes me feel more uncomfortable.

Today, we went on a historic house tour and I had Elsa in the sling on my back.  During the tour, she started fussing and I knew she wanted to nurse (it was hot and I'm pretty sure she was really thirsty).   I switched her to the front, walked into the other room and quickly popped her on, (I was wearing two tank tops, so I simply pulled the underone down and the top one up and everything was covered) and re-joined the tour.  There were two men on the tour and I'm fairly sure neither one of them even knew that she was nursing.   I think using a cover, might have made them more uncomfortable because then they would have known she was nursing, while without the cover, they really didn't know and couldn't see anything. 


I try to be fairly careful so as not to flash anyone but if it were to accidentally happen, I really don't care.  I really do not believe that most men are driven to lust by the sight of a baby breastfeeding. Not all nudity/exposure is the same, and there is a world of difference between someone getting a flash of breast when a baby is breastfeeding, versus someone getting a flash of breast from say a stripper or someone trying to be seductive.  Maybe this will be controversial, but not all nudity is the same.   There is a big difference between pornography versus nude art versus a medical textbook.  Read Human Vitae if you wish to learn more about that.  

And, as I said..really, most of the time, you can't see anything anyway.

What it really comes down to, is I think everyone needs to do what they feel most comfortable doing.  I feel most comfortable nursing in public, anywhere I need to, without a cover, and just using baby, and my shirt to cover up.   Others may feel more comfortable, with a cover. and they need to do what they feel most comfortable doing. 

Now, you can go see Jen for more quick takes

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  1. Thanks for all your thoughts on this oh-so-controversial topic! I have to admit that this is the first time I have successfully found your blog, and I've tried many times (it's my fault - I think I'm just woefully tech illiterate. I'm used to people's comments linking to their blogger profile page, not G+).

    I love a lot of your points here, and I think you said a lot of things better than I did in my original post.

    I have watched two slightly-older cousins nurse a combined 14 babies (!) over the past 12 years. At every family party, they are always nursing - discreetly, but unashamedly - without a cover. Seeing this example got me to start realizing that having to cover up was not necessary. As you say, nursing covers have only been around for a short time anyways. I think women used to just learn how to nurse in public without "showing anything."

    1. Seeing other moms breastfeed was really influential on me as well , especially as you said..seeing other moms nursing unashamedly, but discreetly without a cover.

  2. Bravo Amelia! I agree. My first nursing cover (for my now 11 year old) was good and actually had a wire (believe it was called "Priv-A-See" lol, BUT it was white with red and brown teddy bears all over it. Very "HELLLOOOOO I'm NURSINGGGG!" :D While there were much better and subtler covers for nursing when I had my almost two year old... it's true; once you get it down, it can be done very modestly. Good point. :)

    Also, nursing is eating and yes, people do have to get more used to it.

    There are also hats for babies while nursing, some with wide brims that work like a cover and some that just are pulling people's chains who are skeeved-out by nursing.( I'm trying not to laugh, but it's not working... oh dear.

    1. Ha...those hats...oh my. That is hilarious!

  3. I actually land in the middle, I like a cover with a newborn who I may have to latch and re-latch a few times but yes once they are old enough to be grabbing at a cover ~ it gets pulled out less and less.

  4. I had the same trouble finding you that Christine did!

    But here I am, and thanks for jumping into the fray here. There are many opinions on this, and this is a topic which, as Catholics, we are free to disagree about. Which is great for us bloggers.

    I find it interesting that you worry about the nursing cover alerting people to the fact that you're nursing. It honestly never occurred to me that that might be problematic for anyone. I am a big fan of nursing in public, but I pretty much always use a cover. It's what works best for me.

    1. I'll have to start changing my posting settings, so more people can find me...I didn't realize G+ was so hard.

      Anyway..thanks for starting this topic/conversation...I love a good blogging conversation!

  5. I use a cover but I think I do it mostly for my husband's sake, cause he's paranoid. The only place I feel I HAVE to use a cover is in Mass because we sit in pews 1, 2, or 3...and although my priest has literally walked in on me nursing (like super exposed) and not even blinked an eye (I was in one of the church offices), I still don't really want to do that to him during Mass. (also all the curious little boys that sit near us...)

    I'm getting more and more comfortable nursing without a cover and I think you're right - it's really your comfort level that people take their cues from. If you are nervous, so are they, and so is baby! If mama's relaxed, most everyone else is too.

    My favorite is nursing on the beach sans cover. It's breezy and relaxed, I wear a strapless one piece so I just pull one side down, and Zuzu's big hat covers my ENTIRE area. Win-win!!

    1. I need to get a big hat like that for Elsa...although she'd probably just pull it off. The beach/pool is actually the one place where I use a cover (or a throw a t-shirt or tank-top on over my suit and pull my suit down and shirt/tank up).

  6. I'm coming over from Christine's and Kendra's blogs. I often don't use a cover either, but am always actually covered, like you state. I think that is vastly different than the people who just "whip it out" with no coverage what so ever, just to make a point. That I have a problem with, honestly. I agree with you though that I doubt the occasional slip of uncovered breast would not lead a man into lust. However, I still like the general mystery of breastfeeding and honestly, I don't want anyone to see my breast anyway so I do whatever I can to stay covered!

    1. I've never actually seen anyone just "whip it out" in the general public. I have at LLL meetings, but never just in public.

  7. This is excellent, and I agree 100% with all your reasons. When my first was born at 21, I was fearless about it and breastfed everywhere without a cover. I don't know precisely why, it wasn't people, but as the babies kept coming and I got older, I realized that I really just preferred to be as alone as possible when feeding, for no reasons other than personal. It became a really happy thing for me rather than a burden, and I did end up nursing my later kids longer (about 2 years). When my last was born, I had to be somewhere alone, even at home, we would be in my bedroom. The kids saw me nurse him plenty, coming in to ask questions, sit beside us, but it was known that it was alone time for me and the baby and they respected that. When we were in public, I would go into bathrooms or the car, as the baby would not nurse with any distractions. This was burdensome, and it was not because I was afraid of offending or whatever, just because it was what I wanted. I guess what I am saying is, I decided that it was ok to do things the way I wanted, not the way I think I should do things in order to stand up for other women who do want public BFing normalized.

    1. I've found myself wanting to go off more by myself too as I had more kids and my kids got older...I think just because I crave more time to myself in general(with more people vying for my attention) time alone is if it takes nursing as an excuse to go off in the bedroom and get away from the noise...I'll take it!

  8. Nothing screams your breasts are really exposed, like a blanket over your shoulder. OK, I concur.

    When I breastfeed, I do cover though. I feel more comfortable in case I need to help them latch or they like to take a break and de-latch for a few seconds.

    I grew up in a family that bottle fed.

    1. Yeah..I definitely think people should just do what they feel most comfortable doing. Occasionally, I do cover, because I feel more comfortable that way.

  9. Love it! Great post - totally how I feel as well. With my first I was extremely nervous about breastfeeding around people who weren't family or close friends. It was kind of a catch-22...not comfortable with the cover, not comfortable without it. Now with my second, I could really care less. She's hungry, I'm food, end of story. Thanks for sharing!!

  10. Again, YES! This puts into words my exact feelings on the matter.


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