Posted by: webbhouston | September 30, 2009

Nursing covers and why I dont like them

Last night I was at an event where it was mostly natural minded moms, hippie moms if you will.  An hour into our get together one of the infants got hungry and as we all usually do the mom sat down and plopped out the boob to nurse her child.  Another baby got jealous and wanted some boobs too, so that mom sat down to nurse except when she did she pulled out a blanket to cover herself.

I have to admit that I just sat and stared. I wouldnt have stared if she has just popped out the boob because to me this is normal… but covering one’s self with a blanket? That is NOT normal in my book. I asked a friend of mine who says that she covers up occassionally why she did it and her answer was that she thought that church was appropriate so that she was not a distraction to those at church.

I guess my question now is, how is a mother feeding her child a distraction?

There is a huge constant debate as to whether breastfeeding in public is lewd or not… on whether it should be legal or even protected. The most common things that are said to breastfeeding mothers are “Can you please cover up” and “Can you please go to the bathroom”.

Hooter hiders, or other covers are really just sending out the message that breastfeeding should be hidden and is somehow indecent. Who can blame people for thinking that?  Even people like Barbara Walters are more than happy to say how breastfeeding makes them uncomfortable and how wierd it is.

Who can forget last year when Barbara Walters relayed a derogatory anecdote about witnessing a woman breast-feeding on an airplane? “It made me very nervous,” Walters said on the May 17, 2005 airing of the ABC talk show, “The View.” “She didn’t cover the baby with a blanket. It made us uncomfortable.” Co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck, who was nursing her daughter at the time, went even further adding she was “uncomfortable breast-feeding in general.”

Why are we asked to cover up or hide? Mostly it is because of the children. People do not want their children exposed to our bear luscious breasts because their eyes might explode into their brains or something. So I say that we start our own campaign to hide bottle feeding.

Bottles are a part of our culture so much that most dolls come with them.  At baby showers some of the most popular decorations are bottles and pacifiers. One of the most popular gifts for new mothers apart from diapers… are bottles. We are inundated with propaganda about bottlefeeding on a regular basis. When do you see a baby breastfeeding on tv? in a movie? in a magazine ad? It is as often as you see bottlefeeding? How about at all? I am personally offended by being surrounded by bottles. I do not want my children to grow up thinking that you are supposed to feed a baby with a bottle unless it is completely necessary. Who can I go to when I see a bottle feeding mother to complain? Of course all of this is said with tongue placed firmly in cheek, but my main point stands. Breastfeeding is just that… feeding… with a breast.  If bottle feeding does not get harassment, breastfeeding should not either.

This is why people use cover ups for nursing. Eventhough some people might say that they are for breastfeeding and that they are for families the sight of a woman nursing her child is too much for many and as a result mothers react by hiding. I think we need to make breastfeeding the norm. There was an excellent article on Mothering called “Breastfeeding in the Lang of Ghengis Kahn” that really struck a chord with me when I read it.  In this culture they would never think of having a law to protect breastfeeding because it would not even be necessary. While I am glad that we have laws to protect us… I am sad that they were needed.

This week is the date of the Breastfeeding Challenge. We will be having it at the BIRTH Fair this Saturday and I am helping with organizing it. I think that things like this are necessary until we get to a point where breastfeeding in our culture is the norm. Where mothers are not harrassed and where motheres are not being told or being made to feel like they should hide or cover up when nursing their child.

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Responses

  1. I really like this post. Great thinking. While many may feel like you/we’re splitting hairs (“Oh, now we’re not allowed to cover up”) I see it as totally valid. Covering up only reinforces that breastfeeding should be hidden.

    As for the images of bottles, I just blogged about this myself last week (www.kikilaroo.wordpress.com). I really agree. All these images and bottles only supports and reinforces the normalcy of bottle feeding, not breastfeeding.

    And lastly, I too read that article in Mothering and was like, “Holy smokes…how FABULOUS!!!” I was like on a high, daydreaming that wonder if it was like that here….ahhh, daydreaming being the key word. 🙂

  2. Daydreaming indeed. I loved that article. It literally brought tears to my eyes.


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