Free to breast-feed

My son and I finally made it to our first postnatal yoga class today. I didn’t actually end up doing much yoga because my son, like most almost-two-month-olds, needs to eat every three hours. Also, he takes about 40 minutes to  nurse. I admit, this has kept me from attending the class before, because I didn’t want to spend most of it nursing instead of doing yoga. However, the writing is on the wall. I’m not going to be able to do anything unless I am willing to feed him during some part of it. So I went, but I took a bottle of breast milk with me, since he usually bottle-feeds quicker than he nurses.

My son has taken a bottle from me several times and he usually gets at least one a day from my husband, so that I can have a break. However, he wouldn’t take it today. So, since several other women were nursing their babies, I decided to go ahead and nurse him.

At first, I felt self-conscious nursing without a cover in public. However, I soon became completely comfortable with it. In fact, I felt liberated. Before I had a child, I was fine with women breast-feeding in public, although I assumed it would be best for them to cover themselves up, to avoid catching flack from people. I thought it must be easy to just toss a cover over yourself and the baby. I was wrong. I have a nursing cover. It is very difficult to get the child in and out of the cover without exposing yourself somehow anyway. You either have to flash people or place the child under there and then fumble with your clothes, blind and one-handed. Also, it is sweltering under there (I can only imagine what it feels like for my son.) and trying to get him latched back on  five thousand times while I can’t see him makes me want to pull my hair out.

Everyone says “breast is best.” They want all of the moms to breast-feed because it is better for the babies, but most people would prefer you stay trapped in the house for three months doing it. I’m sorry, but that is just not realistic. If people are going to get judgmental about a mom not breast-feeding, then they shouldn’t be judgmental about a mom doing it in public. A mom still has to have a life while breast-feeding, especially if she has other kids and/or a job. Plus, it’s better for both mom and baby if they aren’t trapped in the house 24/7. For the first time today, I didn’t feel limited by breast-feeding. I didn’t feel trapped. I actually felt like I was breast-feeding and living at the same time. I didn’t feel like I had to drop everything to feed my child. I didn’t have to stop my life. I was sharing my life with him.

Honestly, I think most moms probably aren’t self-conscious about nursing without a cover. At least, like me, they would find out they weren’t once they tried it. I think it is other people’s attitudes that make a mom self-conscious, rather than her own feelings. It’s not what the mom or baby is doing, but other people’s thoughts about breasts that are the problem. The fact is, I had to look really closely at the moms in class today to tell if they were nursing, even without covers. They were very discreet about it. They weren’t flashing their breasts around or letting them hang out when a child wasn’t latched to them. The fact is, our society is prudish and many think of breasts purely as sexual objects. Come on, people. It’s breast-feeding, not flashing your boobs to get Mardi Gras beads. And yet, some of the same people who probably pay money for those Girls Gone Wild DVDs, give nursing mothers dirty looks in public.

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2 Comments

  1. Tiffany said,

    September 21, 2009 at 8:05 pm

    Hear, hear!

  2. christina clegg said,

    September 22, 2009 at 9:37 pm

    preach it, sista! i don’t have any babies,but i agree with everything you just said…


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