Here’s the thing: I value modesty. You won’t catch me in a super low cut shirt because I prefer not to show cleavage to the whole world and it’s important to me to dress in a way that is respectful of those around me.
But I also value breastfeeding. It’s the number one tool in my motherhood toolbox. My babies nurse around the clock whenever they’re hungry, thirsty, overwhelmed, tired, in pain, sick or scared and that’s totally cool with me.
When I had my first child, I had no idea how to reconcile these two values when I was in public. On the one hand, I wasn’t comfortable with the thought of being at all exposed and on the other hand, I felt helpless as a mom because my go-to trick was unavailable. It was the middle of the summer and the thought of using a cover was unbearable for both me and my sweaty baby so I mostly spent my time frantically searching for private rooms or bathrooms to feed her in.
Fortunately, by the time I got pregnant with my second daughter, I had learned how to discreetly nurse in public using the “two shirt method” and a full repertoire of nursing friendly clothing.
Secondly, I had invested in a couple great nursing covers for those situations where I just felt better fully covered.
And finally, I had also become a doula and I learned so much about the many struggles new moms face with postpartum and breastfeeding. It is always my goal to do my part in making this transition easier for women.
So even though I still try to be as modest as possible, I feel strongly that I should be breastfeeding in public. Here’s 4 reasons why.
1. Because Seeing Someone Breastfeed is the Best Way to Learn How
Our culture struggles with breastfeeding. At this point, most women attempt to breastfeed but many do not continue past the first few weeks or months. A good latch is hard for us and countless women worry about their supply.
Part of the reason for this difficulty is that most girls grow up without ever having seen someone nurse a baby. In general, we don’t know what a good latch or a comfortable position or modest breastfeeding looks like because we’ve never seen it. And we’ve certainly never seen a woman nurse while cooking or putting on makeup or playing mini golf or whatever else her day may bring.
Consequently, breastfeeding remains a mystery and it feels too hard to master.
This is the first reason I feel it’s important to nurse my baby in front of other women and girls. I want them to know that breastfeeding can be comfortable, it can be enjoyable, and it is possible to live life while doing it. When they can see that this is true with their own eyes, they’re more likely to have confidence when it’s their turn to nurse a baby.
2. Because Something So Good Should be Normalized and Easily Accessible
Breastfeeding has tons of benefits. Babies who are breastfed are less likely to be obese, breastfeeding mothers are less likely to develop breast cancer and the immunity factors in breast milk change depending on what germs are around so it’s always the perfect medicine for the baby. I could go on and on about all of that but the point is, breastfeeding is so good and healthy for all involved.
Why then do we have to make it so hard for women to nurse their babies?
We need to make a change. We need to welcome and encourage the breastfeeding mother. We need to accept the fact that breasts were created for nurturing babies and allow them to fulfill that purpose.
When I breastfeed in public, I am helping the world around me to get comfortable with something that always has been and always will be a beneficial aspect of raising the next generation.
3. Because Feeding in a Bathroom is Gross
It’s true, sitting on a toilet in a public bathroom while nursing a tiny child isn’t sanitary, comfortable, or necessary.
Can we all just stop pretending that this is a good option for breastfeeding moms?
I did this with my first baby but honestly, this is where I draw the line this time around.
4. To Empower the Isolated Mom
This last reason is probably the most important and what really drives the need to breastfeed in public home for me. There are too many new moms out there who don’t want to leave their houses because finding a private place to nurse their baby is too difficult (and a public restroom is too gross).
As a result, they end up feeling trapped and alone in their home.
Or there may be moms who do go to social gatherings but they wind up breastfeeding alone in someone else’s bedroom and their heart aches because they are missing out on conversation and festivities with their loved ones.
Both of these situations leave new moms feeling isolated which is extremely important to note because isolation and Postpartum Depression go hand in hand.
As a society, we must make it easier for women and babies to get out of the house and this starts by getting comfortable with breastfeeding.
So I’ve resolved that I have to do my part. If just one woman sees me nursing my baby in public and this helps her feel more confident in leaving her home, getting fresh air, and feeding her baby then it’s worth it to me.
The bottom line is this: both breastfeeding and the entire postpartum period are down right hard. But for so many reasons, not being able to feed a baby in public just makes it harder.
So as a doula, a breastfeeding advocate, and a woman, I know now that it is my responsibility to nurse in public in support of my fellow moms and I hope that others will do the same ❤️
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