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 it...as 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.