There is a lot of controversy for women that breastfeed. I have made my opinions on it very clear, I think if a baby is hungry you feed them. Common sense, right? Apparently not. I don’t agree with having to cover your baby while they eat in public, or to run off to feed them elsewhere like your car or the nasty bathroom stall. I told my husband that with Paityn I would feed her wherever and whenever without a cover, and without shame. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case. I found myself fearing what others would say, or the nasty looks I would receive. I didn’t know what would be said in front of my two other children about their Mom feeding their sister. I was afraid.
The first time that I fed her in public I was at Walmart. I have this really cute car seat cover that doubles as a nursing cover. I put it on and walked around the store feeding her under the cover. The whole time I was staring at everyone that was staring at me, I knew exactly what they were thinking- okay, maybe not exactly what they were thinking, but I knew the subject of their thoughts. Even with a cover they knew I was breastfeeding. I kept pulling the cover out to re-latch her, because she hated the cover as much as I did. I gave up, put her back in her car seat and we hurried to leave the store. When I got home I felt so ashamed that I couldn’t do what I believed in for fear of judgment like so many other women have received. I sat down with my husband and told him how hard it was and how the looks on strangers faces were burned into my brain. I felt like a terrible mom for not being able to do what was best for my baby because of my own insecurities.
6 weeks postpartum and I am finally gaining the confidence to feed her how she should be fed. Like a baby! You wouldn’t throw a cover over a bottle fed baby, so why is breastfeeding so different? Because, breasts are sexualized. That’s not what they were made for. They were made to produce nutrients to your baby. And nursing is in no way a sexual act and needs to stop being looked at as such. No nipple is shown, sometimes stomach and maybe some cleavage. No more then what you show in a swimsuit. And for the most part swimsuits seem to be acceptable.
The first time I nursed freely and confidently, it was hot! Way too hot to have a blanket over me or her and she was hungry. We were outside at a baseball game and just holding her made the both of us sweat. I bought these awesome “muscle shirts”-as my husband calls them. They pull to the side comfortably and allow me to nurse without pulling my shirt up or down. I pulled that shirt over and popped her on. That was the first time she nursed in public where I felt she was comfortably nursing like she does at home. This time, I didn’t pay any attention to looks that were given to me. Except for one mom who looked at me and gave me a huge grin. She too had a baby. It was like a mom salute of approval. I realized I wasn’t alone, millions of women breastfeed in public every day. I think its safe to say that with the controversy going around many of those women were afraid of the same judgment that I was. By nursing freely maybe I will help another mom that isn’t comfortable with it, feel comfortable. To know that at least one person won’t be judging her. Us moms need to start sticking together and help breastfeeding to be normalized amongst society. It is a beautiful thing, and I am so grateful that I am able to breastfeed my youngest, as that wasn’t an option with my older two.
I’m not a feminist, I don’t think women should run around flaunting their private business, but I am a mom! As a mom I believe that we should be able to care for our children without worrying about what others might say or think. Whether that be formula fed or breastfed at Walmart. No Mother should ever be ashamed to care for her child in whatever way that child needs.