The Breastfeeding Cover-Up

breastfeeding-in-public

This is not a post about nursing covers. This is a post about breastfeeding support.

It is about those who consider themselves breastfeeding supporters, what a breastfeeding mother considers supportive and the often huge disparity between the two.

I married into this company (my husband and his sister started Momzelle together, just as he and I started dating).  I started working in the company when I was pregnant with my first child.  I have the distinct privilege of being immersed in the breastfeeding community for my job, and it has made an incredible impact on my personal life.  I am so proud to have helped build a community on our Facebook page that is interactive, informative, entertaining and supportive.  I love getting a conversation going.  Lately, though, I have been hearing things that trouble me.  And because I have access to my very own platform, I can rant all I want 😉

I love posting things that encourage breastfeeding in public.  Mama’s have the right to feel confident and comfortable getting out and about with our little ones.  What troubles me is that every time I post about this topic, we are confronted with ignorance and shaming disguised as breastfeeding support.  The reality becomes clear that breastfeeding is not ‘normal’ in our society.  I understand that the normalization of breastfeeding has a long way to go to counteract the sexualization of the breast.  What I don’t understand is how someone can feel it is supportive or helpful in anyway to propose that nursing mother’s should be ‘discreet, cover-up, kept private, etc’.  Perhaps I am feeling overly-defensive, as I haven’t had my coffee yet this morning.  I want to believe that this advice is well-intended.  I have been nursing for over three years and I have never had any negative NIP (nursing in public) experiences.  I know most people really do want to be kind and of course, we are all entitled to our opinions.  However, I believe it is important to address this misguided advice.  We have so many obstacles to face as new mothers, worrying about offending someone else while feeding our babies should not be one of them!

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Breastfeeding my daughter at Costco

How to tell when breastfeeding support is really not supportive…at all:

1) There is a big giant BUT right after ‘I support breastfeeding..’  It can be disguised in other forms.  Watch out for however and although!

2) It is implied that your main goal when breastfeeding in public is to flash everyone your breasts.  When you feel that the person ‘supporting’ you believes that a man, child or the elderly will be permanently scarred from seeing your nipple for even half a second.

3) There are conditions on the support, for example; age of child, expected to pump a bottle for outings, etc.

4) You, the breastfeeding mother, come away from the conversation feeling either a little bit insecure or really irate!

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Nursing my baby in the park

If you are a nursing mother and you choose to use a nursing cover or to find a private place or to stay home, I support you.  If you are not a nursing mother and you tell a nursing mother to do any of the above, steam might just come out my ears!

I will end on this, though.  Every time there is negativity, shaming or misguided well-intended advice on our facebook page, I see wise and confident mamas respond (usually much more graciously than I can).  We support each other and, just like breastfeeding our babies, that is a beautiful thing.

Have you ever had unsupportive breastfeeding ‘support’?

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