I loved breastfeeding my children. I know that a lot of women love it but what I don’t understand is the arguments for and against certain types of breastfeeding. “Free the nipple” or “cover that sexualized part of the body while letting a squirming child clamp on to a very sensitive area” are just strange arguments to me. Personally, do what you gotta do mama. I just tried to make it through each feeding with a happy full baby belly at the end. Isn’t that the only real point to feeding babies?
I personally tried to use a nursing cover with my second child. It made my husband more comfortable and until we got really good at nursing it made me more comfortable too. I was just like every other mom trying to feed their child. I have a story of my struggle and I think it might help some understand why each woman’s choice is hers alone and passing judgment only makes you part of the problem.
When my youngest son was about 6 weeks old he started having some trouble. It appeared to be colic but turned out to be acid reflux. He cried pretty much any time he was awake for about 2 weeks. I was so tired and my nerves were shot. Not only was I healing from a Cesarean section but I was figuring out how to mother a baby again, my older children were 8 and 9 at this point so it was like riding a bike with a bent wheel because this crying gig was something I’d never had to deal with before. After several doctor’s visits and switching to a new doctor we started acid reflux medication hoping to god that it worked (which it did! Yay us!). A few days into the medication my husband and I thought it was a great time to take our children to the hot air “night glow” event.
It was probably about 80 degrees as we set off on a journey to see the glowing balloons. We had to walk about 1.5 miles and because the baby was dealing with tummy issues he was having none of that stroller crap. He wanted to be held, by me, like right NOW! I was sweating like a pig and trying to keep up when the baby decided he was hungry. I was prepared for this because at 6 weeks he was only hungry about every 5 seconds. I had my cute nursing cover in place with a baby latched on as I walked with my family to the event. As we got closer to the crowd my son’s anxiety began to ramp up. He wasn’t used to crowds of thousands of people (gee I wonder why) so all he wanted to do was nurse, for 2 hours straight. I was a living breathing pacifier.
I hate being hot. I keep my house at a balmy 68 degrees in the summer to make sure I don’t kill my family out of crazy heat-induced rage. I was not only wearing pants and a t-shirt, but I also had basically a jacket over me to cover the baby and my boob so as not to make those around me uncomfortable. But the hotter I got the less of a fuck I gave. I was becoming a crazy heat induced ball of rage and I was losing my shit. So I looked at my husband and mustered every ounce of calm as I explained that the cover was coming off and he was going to have to be ok with that. He could see that I was hot and bitchy and it wasn’t helping the baby attached to my boob so he was smart enough to hold the cover for me before I tore it to shreds. There I was in a crowd of thousands with my boob, complete with baby nipple cover, exposed for the world to see and I didn’t care one bit. In fact, if someone had told me to put my boob away I probably would have decked them because I was finally feeling air movement and the ball of rage was evaporating.
I was free. I was not trying to stage a nurse-in and make other people uncomfortable I was just trying not to die of heat stroke. My husband watched for pervs which was his one and only reason he preferred me to use a cover but like I said, all I was worried about was fresh air. By this time the glowing balloons were out for the evening and we were headed home. I walked down a main street in town with a baby latched on to my nipple for dear life and no one said a word. I’m sure some people were uncomfortable but I didn’t care. We were doing the best we could and that was all that mattered. After that day I decided I wasn’t going to subject myself to that experience again. I hung up my covers and never used them again because that was what worked for me.
The moral of the story is this: each mother has her own limits and no one should judge her for those. I tried using a cover until I just couldn’t take it anymore. Some women are fine without a cover from day one and others prefer the cover at all times. Why not come together as humans and try to support mothers and their choices without passing judgment? We are all just trying to raise small humans to be good big humans someday. If you want to judge, please do it silently, because nursing mothers are riding a wave of hormones that make them unpredictable and I could see a jury acquitting a nursing mother of homicide…just saying.