According to Melissa Kent in her Sydney Morning Herald article, “Blessing or disguise?”: “Mothers and breastfeeding experts are firmly divided over whether they [nursing covers] are a wonderful idea or a step back to the Dark Ages.”
What do you think? I can admit to harboring some resentment every time I hear someone suggest that nursing mothers should hide what they’re doing. We even hide it by using the word “nursing” rather than “breastfeeding.”
Perhaps, though, these commercial nursing covers represent a step out of the nursing closet. Perhaps more body-shamed or embarrassed moms will nurse in public if they have covers to hide under.
Jennifer James, a senior lecturer in breastfeeding at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology and a lactation consultant for 28 years, believes that covers reinforce the idea that women should cover up, and she had this to say:
”It also sends an incredibly negative message to the baby. Breastfeeding is meant to be a very interactive thing. When they are awake and feeding they are learning, so if you cover them up with a tent, the baby loses that contact with the world.”
Think about that. Is that a concession you’re willing to make for the comfort of others? Which brings me to the pointed question: Should nursing mothers cover up for the comfort of others or should others cope with their own issues for the comfort of moms and babies?
Although it’s true that I have never used a cover-up, I can admit to feeling anxious about nursing in public, even on my third breastfed baby. I did try a commercial cover-up one time, but I decided that wrestling to keep my shirt down was easier than trying to keep the cover in place. In addition, using the cover felt like a concession to cultural oppression, which I was not willing to make.
You see, I think that people need to see nursing in public if it can ever become normal (again). The NursingFreedom.org blog post, “Why children should witness breastfeeding in public,” asks the question: What happens if children never witness breastfeeding? More specifically: “What if a young girl or boy grows up surrounded by sexualized images of breasts but never, or only rarely, witnesses the normal, natural act of breastfeeding a baby?” They grow up to be these people.
According to a survey of 600 people commissioned in 2008 by Jacki Scott, co-creator of the KissKissHugHug cover:
- 42 per cent of men and 31 per cent of women felt uncomfortable around breastfeeding;
- 54 per cent of nursing women planned their day around breastfeeding; and
- 14 per cent would only breastfeed in the privacy of their own home.
In a BabyChild.org.uk survey of young women’s perceptions about breastfeeding, co-founder Jill Tovey commented: “…the study also revealed a slightly more concerning topic; namely the fact that a percentage of the young women who took part in the study felt that breasts were sexual, therefore deeming breastfeeding an ‘inappropriate act’. This is a somewhat worrying school of thought, particularly given the fact that many women seem to be turned off breastfeeding because of this inaccuracy; and breastfeeding is one of the most natural things in the world.”
Kent’s “Blessing or disguise?” article also noted that the Facebook group, “If breastfeeding offends you, why don’t you put a blanket over YOUR head?,” has 260,000 members.
Source:Seattle Breastfeeding Examiner