I don’t really want to write this post.
They say a golden rule of blogging if you want to stay likeable, is to not write about anything too controversial or polarizing (leaving either a strong love or hate) for your audience.
I wanted to stay (and live forever) in this non-controversial space! I really did. Who doesn’t want to remain likeable?
For someone like me, who loves community and building relationships, it can seem like death to hold an opposite opinion as others I care about. Not to mention, writing specifically on something to do with the practices of motherhood, can run the risk of sounding judgmental and dividing - the complete opposite of what I’m trying to do in creating a community of healthy mamas.
And yet I decided to write this anyway, but I didn’t write it to start a debate. I didn’t even write it thinking about those who may hold a different opinion. In fact, this post really isn’t for them at all; it's for those like me who were starting to feel alone in their feelings. Who were starting to ask the question, “Am I the only one who feels differently?”
The journey into and through motherhood can already feel so lonely that I felt the need to stand up and say a sweet, "Don’t worry, me too."
By now you’re probably wondering what on earth I’m talking about (I’m really bad at bringing up touchy subjects, can you tell?) so I'll get right to it. I’m talking about breastfeeding, uncovered, in public. But I’m not going to give you a list of why I think everyone should cover up. I just want to take a minute to tell you why I personally (and joyfully) choose to nurse covered in public.
See here’s the thing with #normalizebreastfeeding…my breast...is in the breastfeeding. And I don’t really want to normalize that.
Whether it’s nursing or at a beach, I don’t want my breast to be a common and normal sight.
I think the beauty and complexity in the way the breast was designed for the nourishment of our babies, while also being something intuitively sexual is both beautiful, God-given, sacred, and also private.
There’s a long list of men I wouldn’t be comfortable breastfeeding in front of, say my father and brother-in-law, my stepdad, my grandfather, my friend’s husbands, my husband’s friends, or the guy sitting at the table next to me in Starbucks right now. If I wouldn’t want those people (who I know aren’t “trying to stare”) seeing my breast, it's understandable why I wouldn't want strangers to either.
At fourteen months of age, I still love those sweet precious moments in Owen’s rocking chair, nursing him to sleep.
So it goes without saying that I’m a huge advocate for breastfeeding.
Thankfully, I find my nursing cover provides me with that same sweet intimacy with my baby and privacy that I prefer even when I’m in public.
But hasn’t it been impossible for me to cover up all the time? We’ve travelled on about 18 plane rides with Owen – all over the US and Canada – and I haven’t had an issue. Sure, now that Owen is over 1 at times he’ll poke his head out to look around and at times an airplane or car is already a cramped and uncomfortable place so instead I’ll lightly hold the cover to hide my boob but not his face, but besides that it really hasn’t prevented me.
But here’s the thing… I was starting to feel like less of a woman or maybe even an antifeminist for covering up!
I mean aren't I comfortable with my body? Don't I want to join every woman on the planet in their unison cry of “normalize breastfeeding” and "free the nipple"!?
Don't I want to Instagram photos of my child nursing using the hashtag #normalizebreastfeeding? Is there something wrong with me?
Which to all of this my answer is a soft, “No actually, I’d prefer to use my Covered Goods nursing cover (it’s my favourite). I’m no less comfortable with my body and I’m no less an advocate for breastfeeding or gender equality!
I just think it’s still my boob. It’s still my body. It’s still precious, sacred, and private."
So there it is. For the mamas who were starting to feel ashamed that they actually prefer their nursing covers, who don't want to "normalize" their breasts, and who are still just as strong women and incredible mothers in favor of equality, women's rights, social justice, and all that good stuff; they just don’t want their boob in public, you're not alone.
And for the mamas who feel differently, I hope we can still be amazing friends just the same and support each other through this crazy amazing journey we call mamahood.