But I've been watching the comments on my previous post with interest, and thought the best thing to do would be to clarify my personal, not-at-all-humble opinion on the matter.
Yes, it’s a sin that American culture is so uptight that you’ll be asked to leave a room while breastfeeding, but you’ll never be asked to leave that same establishment if you hit your child. Go figure. Someone else, somewhere else, said the most helpful thing you can do to advocate breastfeeding is simply to nurse everywhere. I do. And I mean, everywhere. I pride myself on the fact that even friends who tought I was a freak for nursing a toddler (or, heavens forbit, nursing twins!) comment on how they’re never visually offended (thanks … I think).
- While brings us to Style Tip Number One: Never, ever let them see your nip. Breasts are beautiful. And a nursing breast is doing what nature and God intended. But you’ll be doing a huge service to American babies (who are breastfeed less than almost any other industrialized nation’s babies, even though it’s the best thing for them) if you can nurse in public without showing the dreaded areola. Remember the Seinfeld where Elaine loved her sexy Christmas card picture and its attendant cleavage — until it was revealed her nipple was revealed? Same principle applies here. How can you do this? Keep reading.
- Dress for nursing. Seems a simple enough concept, but even I was caught having to half take off a dress at Cameron’s first pediatrician visit in order to feed him (a good doctor, like mine, will want to see that baby is nursing properly).
- Don’t do a striptease. People are confused enough about the sexualized nature of breasts without seeing you slowly (quickly?) unbuttoning your suit to access the desperately needed milk.
- Pull up, not down. If you lift your shirt, baby’s body and head should cover your lower half, and your raised shirt should mostly cover his head and top half of your breast. Opening a shirt or dress from the top just leaves you exposed. My personal rule is, if your breast is bigger than baby’s head (mine was for a long time) never leave it hanging.
- Turn your back for the tough part. Latching on, especially in the beginning, can take a minute, so turn away until everything’s working (but not in shame, you’re feeding your child, for God’s sake) and rejoin the conversation.
- Maintain eye contact. Once you’ve gotten a lot of practice, you can reach under, unsnap the bra, latch on and keep talking without a break. A lot of people, having never seen a nursing baby, won’t even realize what you’re doing.
- Practice makes perfect in baseball, piano, and public nursing. When baby isn’t screaming at the top of his lungs, and you’re at home alone, see if you can be the Quick Draw McGraw of breasts. Go to a La Leche League meeting, and check out other mothers’ nursing styles. (You can even do this before your baby is born)
- Ask for help. As in all things mother-related, someone somewhere has been there before you. It’s a pretty good bet that a woman with a baby or toddler in a sling is or has nursed. Say hello and ask for advice. Even in the mall. You’re not meant to do this alone.
- Did I mention a sling? It’s a godsend. If you have an Over The Shoulder Baby Holder, it’s got enough fabric that you can lift the extra up to cover baby’s head. Another fave, created by Dr. Sears' family, is the Balboa Baby Sling. We also have the Ultimate Baby Wrap, which has 5 different positions to try.
- If you’re out, pop in the boob at the first sign of hunger from your newborn. Public nursing isn’t discreet at all when the recipient is wailing like you’re flaying him alive.
Remember, you’re doing something natural, incredible, miraculous and necessary. Even if you can’t quite get the discreet part down, anyone who looks at a nursing baby and thinks "that’s obscene" is themselves obscene. I once went to the bathroom in a restaurant and bumped (literally) into a woman standing in the 4 x 6 space nursing her infant. When I asked why, she replied that she was having dinner with her in-laws and they were uncomfortable with her nursing. Clearly, they had no problem with their three-week-old grandchild having his dinner in a cramped, dirty john. Don’t let that be you. Let the other people leave the table.
Happy nursing! Any tips I’ve left out? Something that worked for you? Think we should go hide in an all-women nursing room? Do let me know!