We’re 8 months in, and I finally feel qualified to write about this topic. There’s been a lot of coverage in the media about the, erm, coverage of breastfeeding mothers. Too cover or not to cover, that is the question. And I’d say it mostly depends on the attitude of the mom, the attitude of those around her, and what sort of mood her baby is in. I can tell you now that when your baby is screaming her head off, hungry for the goods, the last thing you want to do is struggle to put a cover on first. And when you can’t dash off into the bathroom or back to your car, you’re left with few other options than to pretty much flash everyone in the room. But, really, why is that so bad? In my experience, most people really don’t mind. They understand that you need to feed your baby. But, I can also say that I didn’t always feel comfortable being that exposed, so I would cover up in public most of the time.
Early on when my daughter and I were just getting the hang of things, I found using a cover incredibly cumbersome. You have to be able to see what you’re doing, and you’re constantly correcting your position and latch. At home, even with company over, I never used one. My friends and family were totally cool with it. One friend of mine even laughed about it when her granddaughter became very interested in what I was doing and reenacted it at home with her baby dolls.
Once we got the hang of things, using a cover became a lot easier. Except we ran into a couple of problems even then: she’d get so hot under there that she’d promptly fall asleep, or she’d pull it away to see what was going on outside. I went through a stint at the gym where I’d nurse her in the women’s locker room after my yoga classes. It was hilarious how many people would just come over and talk to me, sometimes almost fully naked themselves!
One time, at a play date at the park, I asked the moms around me if they minded if I nursed the baby. They, of course, said yes, so I whipped out the goods and started feeding the baby. One mom sort of panicked and started to cover me up in case one of the older boys came over — sheesh, I never even thought of that! We laughed about it later. I’m sure it would have been fine, but you really never know what kids will see and say, and what will come back to you.
On the plane ride over to Greece, with three legs of the journey, it went something like this: covered for the first leg, covered and asleep at the boob (both me and her) on the second leg, and screw it, I’m not covering anything on the third leg. There’s not many places you can go on a plane, and I figured not that many people could really see what I was doing anyway. And it was totally fine.
From what little I’ve witnessed across the pond, at least here in Greece, the mothers are more cavalier about exposing themselves when nursing. Which makes me ponder why we’re so uptight about it back in the States. Before I was a mom, I would have been in the “cover it up” camp. But now, two kids in, I wish it didn’t feel so necessary. Taking care of an infant is hard enough — worrying about what people think about you if you, oops, expose too much really shouldn’t be an issue.
Perhaps attitudes will change in the years to come — certainly our opinions about gay marriage and drug legality are taking a turn for the liberal. Maybe this issue will follow suit.