When we were struggling with infertility one of the things that made me the most sad was the thought of never getting to breastfeed a baby. This simple act of womanhood was something I wanted to experience so desperately, and the mere thought of never getting the opportunity was enough to make me cry.
I’m so fortunate that I’ve had positive nursing relationships with both of my babies. Wiggles nursed for 15 months. I loved every second of it, but it was sometimes annoying to feed him while we were on the go. I always had my nursing cover with me, but he started tearing it off when he was about two minutes old. Besides that, it was harder for him to get latched properly and was just overall an awkward experience. To avoid using the hooter hider, I would often do things like excuse myself and nurse in another room, or park the car, climb in the backseat, and nurse before I went somewhere. At the time I believed that nursing was great, but that nursing moms should be respectful and discreet.
Now I have four kids and I say screw being respectful and discreet.
It’s not like I take my top off and flaunt the fact that I’m nursing. I pick my outfits based on easy nipple access, sit on the outside of whatever group we’re in, and try to reveal as little as possible. But probably half of Kansas City has seen a flash of my nipple, and I really don’t care. That’s why I have them. I get that boobs are sexual (especially in our culture). Whatever, that’s fine. But if we can tolerate cleavage in high schools, boob jobs in magazines, and skimpy tops at the pool, shouldn’t we also be able to tolerate a mother feeding her baby? If those two things- sexuality and childhood nutrition- can’t coexist, shouldn’t nutrition be the one that is prioritized? I think so, and I think the only way that will ever happen is if nursing moms aren’t shy.
So fellow nursing moms, give it a try. Look at the picture above. You can’t see anything!! It is true that someone could sneak a peek while the baby is latching or unlatching, but someone would really have to be watching to catch that (so maybe if you hang out with a bunch of weirdos you shouldn’t give it a try). I try to make it obvious that I’m about to start nursing to give people a few seconds to avert their eyes. Practice nursing while showing as little as possible at home to get your confidence up, and then just do it! It’s a little awkward at first, a little uncomfortable. But once you get over that it’s so freeing and convenient that you’ll wonder why you waited so long.
The husband has mixed thoughts about all of this. In theory, he says he’s proud of me and thinks it’s awesome. In practice, almost every time after I nurse in public he wants to talk about it. The other night we were lying in bed when the topic came up. We discussed, and as he rolled over to sleep he said:
*He didn’t really say hashtag, but that’s how I imagined it in my head.