If you have the confidence to lift your shirt (or pull it down) and expose your breast in the middle of a waiting room, a swimming pool, a playground, a Christmas party, or at your husband’s place of work, then I truly admire you.
I’ve tried it. Instead of feeling empowered and proud of my body’s ability to provide the perfect nutrition for my baby girls, what I felt most was, “Oh my gosh, I really don’t want to do this in public ever again.” Of course, I did. A few times, merely due to necessity, but I didn’t like it one bit.
I don’t like the feeling that everyone around you is trying not to look at you while they’re also blatantly trying to actually look at you. Not because they’re perverts but because your breast is exposed. Who wouldn't want to look at that?
Breasts are gorgeous! I’ve had two of my own for most of my life and I still can’t help but look at women’s breasts when they pop into my view via real life, magazine, internet, or television.
Breasts are perfect creations – perhaps more perfect than a tropical sunset or a supremely ripe strawberry. They're multi-purpose, too. They lure our partners to us in an irresistibly seductive way and then, nine months later, they actually feed our children!
I must say, breasts are gorgeous, and mine are too, let me tell you. As much as I appreciate positive attention, I don’t want everyone on the airplane to see my breasts. I don’t even want my in-laws or my cousins or my very own sisters or my mother to see my breasts.
I’m a grown woman. I’ve put a great deal of effort into making sure these gorgeous puppies are only revealed to those most worthy (specifically, my husband, my hungry newborn children, and, as infrequently as possible, my doctor).
There are many people – women and men – standing up for a woman’s right to breastfeed in public these days. That’s a wonderful thing, but it's left me feeling a bit confused as a new mom.
If I’m not comfortable with exposing my breasts in public to feed my child, what does that say about me? Does it mean I’m insecure? Does it mean I’m not a good mother? Not dedicated enough? Not “natural” enough? Does it mean I care more about my appearance than my child’s well-being?
Instead of baring the breast in public, I would gladly bring a bottle of formula (gasp!) to feed my child while we’re at the doctor’s office. Does this make me less of a mother?
Why would I feel ashamed for wanting to keep a part of my body private that I’ve been taught to keep private for the 28 years I’ve been alive prior to becoming a mother? For my entire life, my breasts have been something society has taught me to cover, and now, suddenly, I’m supposed to be completely okay with popping one out in the lobby of my husband’s office?
If I was at the grocery store without any nursing children of my own to feed, and I lifted up my shirt and unclipped one side of my bra, I would be on the local news and probably asked to leave the store for “indecent exposure.”
If I was in a toy store and I walked around the store with one breast exposed and my hand just barely covering the nipple (the part of my breast covered by a nursing baby’s head), it wouldn’t be surprising for the store to call the police and assess my mental health. However, once you become a mother, you’re supposed to be okay with this.
Again, I repeat: if you’re okay with exposing your own beautiful breast in public to feed your child, I think you’re one very awesome gal. When it comes to my own body and my own breasts, it’s just not for me, and that’s okay. Wanting to keep the most private parts of your body private – even as a breastfeeding mother – shouldn’t be a surprising thing. Hey, maybe it’s not, but I don’t see anybody else talking about it.
I want other new moms to know that it’s really okay if breastfeeding in public is something you’re not going to take part in. It’s okay to bring a bottle of pumped milk or even formula to the playground instead. Even if you’re in your own home and there are relatives visiting, it’s okay if you'll only nurse in the confines of your bedroom.
I don’t want to breastfeed in public, and I don’t have to. That’s okay.