I hope I don’t make anyone uncomfortable when I look over at a woman nursing. I just think that a breastfeeding mom is one of the most beautiful sights in the world. And if they are in full public view, all the better.
It is a woman’s right to nurse anywhere: public pools, restaurants, stores, the dinner table; it doesn't matter that it makes some people feel uncomfortable. They have the choice not to look.
I know people feel differently than me, they think women should cover up and be “discreet”. They should throw a blanket or something over the baby. I disagree. I don’t think women need nursing covers – Hooter Hiders or otherwise. A baby shouldn’t have to nurse under a tent; the covers are cumbersome and hot and the cheesy patterns can be so childish it is like they are trying to infantilize the mother in order to de-sexualize their breasts. Covers also draws attention to what you are trying to hide.
I understand that for some women a nursing cover provides them with the comfort they need to nurse in public and that makes them a necessity. It may be Pollyanna-ish of me but I think the world would be a better place if women didn’t feel that way.
There is definitely a double-standard when it comes to exposed breasts in our culture. Ironically, the most public view of a woman nursing a baby is on a formula commercial. Facebook notoriously takes down pictures of nursing moms and there have been a few public instances of women being asked to cover up or leave public areas for nursing (even though public breastfeeding is covered by the Charter). Many of the outfits from last weekend’s MTV Video Music awards show more breast than most women do while nursing.
An article in the Globe and Mail posed the question do you think nursing women should have to cover up in public and the responses were predictably polarized. Many commenters asked nursing women to be discreet. I have never seen a nursing mother be anything less than discreet but some breast may be exposed during the feeding of a child. Check out PhDinParenting’s thoughts on what discreet really means. Most nursing moms are trying to feed their babies not flaunt their breasts.
This issue is not about bottle feeding vs. breastfeeding it is about how society treats something that is competely natural and life-sustaining. I struggled with breastfeeding and formula-fed one child, and breast-fed two others. Once I was able to nurse, I didn’t care what people thought because I wasn't thinking about other people's comfort levels, I was thinking about feeding my child. I became used to people staring: some in admiration and some with disgust. Most of them were not as discreet as me, though.
What do you think, should nursing women cover up?
Photo Credit: istock