I’ve written before about breastfeeding (nursing in public because the Pope said to and because the Blessed Virgin Mary does it) and I’m often asked how to be modest when nursing a baby. I think this is the wrong question because breastfeeding is not immodest.
In most places in the world, women don’t have to think twice about feeding their babies in public. Breastfeeding is not viewed as sexual (because it’s not). It’s simply not a big deal. But here in the U.S., many women feel uncomfortable about it and their anxiety is understandable considering that breastfeeding in public is sadly, often taboo. It’s obviously not reasonable to expect a nursing mother to remain in her house for the months to years of the nursing relationship. (And if you have a big family and practice extended breastfeeding, that could be a decade–or more!–of nursing, so c’mon you can’t just stay home).
So, what’s a mama to do?
I think the question shouldn’t be how to nurse in public modestly, but how to nurse in public comfortably and confidently. If a woman doesn’t feel comfortable breastfeeding because she feels like she stands out or is being judged, it’s going to be difficult for her.
Breastfeeding is not something that needs to be hidden, so I’m not crazy about the phrase “discreet breastfeeding.” However, because public nursing is mistakenly viewed as sexual, most of us (me included) feel more confident if we show less rather than more skin when breastfeeding. (Let me be clear that I’m not saying this is necessary, or that doing otherwise is immodest. I’m just saying that being mostly covered up allows many of us to nurse publicly in comfort and that’s what we’re going for.) This is for the mama, not about other people.
Some women like to wear nursing aprons or covers and it makes them feel at ease and comfortable nursing, but I am not one of those women. They always drive my babies batty and distract them. And it’s just one more thing to try to retrieve from the bottom of my diaper bag when my baby is impatiently waiting for a snack. Furthermore, for the first several months, I have to use both hands to nurse. One hand to support the baby’s head and the other to support the breast. So that makes any nursing cover adjustments pretty much impossible. I’ve talked to lots of women who have this same issue, so I know I’m not alone.
Here’s what I do instead:
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I wear a nursing tank under my shirt. That way my tummy is covered when I lift my shirt to nurse and the top of the breast is covered up by my shirt. And there’s a baby head covering pretty much everything else. I also like to wear a cute scarf around my neck, mostly because I like cute scarves, but also because you can easily drape it over any exposed areas you want to cover.
After nursing three babies, I’ve found a way of dressing to nurse that works for me, my babies, and my body. That’s what I’m sharing today, but it doesn’t mean that you have to do the same. The goal is to find what works for you to nurse comfortably like this gal:
Have any tips about confident breastfeeding to share?