Thursday, November 12, 2009
Breastfeeding in America
Does this picture make you uncomfortable?
If so, you're not alone. Public breastfeeding in America is taboo at best. Why is something so natural, so controversial? Why do women's breasts (even when supplying food for a baby) need to be covered, while men are free to go shirtless?
These are questions I'd always wondered, but they were forced to the forefront when I had the blessing of breastfeeding my daughter, Sophia, for 4 months and 3 days (until she passed away).
If I had company coming, I would try to get her to eat early so we would be done before people showed up. If she got hungry while around company, we would take ourselves into her room or another private area (like the dressing room in a store).
I do have to admit that the excuse to usher myself and my daughter away into a quiet room came in handy more than once... if one of us was getting tired or I just wanted some alone time with her. But many times I felt left out of the conversation.
Yes, I had a nursing cover, but honestly, getting a young baby to breastfeed requires work for the first few months: work that is difficult to do with a piece of fabric between mother and child.
I can only hope and pray that I will one day be able to participate again in the miraculous bond that breastfeeding offers. I can promise you that when that time comes, I will be more open, and more upfront about doing so. I have since found nursing covers from Bebe Au Lait (Hooter Hiders) that offer a ribbed neckline to allow the mother access to view her child while breastfeeding. I will have to try this out next time, as it sounds like a good compromise while out in a public area like a park or mall.