I am so ashamed of myself for the annoyed glances I gave, and the "CAN YOU BELIEVE HER?" comments I made about nursing mothers before becoming one myself. The comment I most often made was, "I don't care that she's feeding her child, but can't she cover up?" Oh to be so naive!
Unfortunately, I continued to feel the same way when I had Gabriel. I was nervous about offending others, and couldn't shake the fear of accidentally exposing myself. Plus, no one in my family (with the exception of my SIL) had breastfed, so I just felt all-around uncomfortable about nursing in front of others right from the start.
Despite my nervousness, we nursed in front of some visitors after returning home from the hospital, and in the homes of family members. I used a cover, and hated it! I wasn't good at situating him and getting him latched on while under the cover. So to avoid flashing, I would go to another room, get situated, and then come back. That was a pain in the rear.
As soon as he learned how to flail his tiny arms around, it just became impossible to cover up. Since I was still so self-conscious about exposing myself, I decided to just give bottles of expressed milk while we were on the go. I'm so mad at myself for that decision. I'd like to go back in time and slap the old me for being so foolishly insecure. I wish that instead of leaving the room to nurse in private, that I'd stayed put and felt confident in my ability to feed my baby in the most natural way possible.
Now I'm an exclusive pumper (you can read about why here.) and it's too late for my new take on nursing in public. I have big plans for my next baby though. I'll be holding my head high and nursing in public without fear of what others think. I want to make it clear that I have no plans of running around topless, but I'm not going to be concerned about the possibility of a slip here or there. Who cares if someone sees me feeding my child? It won't be featured in an adult film somewhere. It is simply the natural, God-given ability to nourish my child.
The last few times I've seen other mommas NIP, I made it a point to shoot them a smile. You should have seen the smiles these women gave back. They felt encouraged, supported, excited... not ashamed like many people make nursing moms feel. I also had the opportunity to defend a woman that was quite a bit exposed at the mall after someone made my old, "Can't she cover up?!" comment. It was strange how quickly the subject was dropped when I responded, "I think it's wonderful that she doesn't feel like it's necessary to hide. Afterall, she's just feeding her baby."
Have you shot a smile at a momma nursing in public, or had an opportunity to defend one? I'd love to hear your story!
I'll leave you with a cartoon a friend of mine posted on facebook. It gave me a good laugh, and I hope it does for you as well!