So much anxiety about being exposed... - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 20 Old 09-04-2011, 08:13 PM - Thread Starter
 
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As my due date gets closer, I am filled more and more with anxiety and dread about being exposed/naked during the birth. I am having a home birth (possibly a water birth) and my husband, doula, midwife, and midwife assistant will be here, and I'm not sure who else. I am a very modest person and I'm very, very self-conscious about my very overweight body. My stomach, thighs, breasts, and butt are covered in stretch marks (all from before my pregnancy). I am very paranoid about being surrounded by thin women while I look like this (not pregnant, just fat and stretched out in every which way).

 

I know this sounds absolutely ridiculous but I really resent they'll all get to be fully clothed while I'm exposed. I can't help but think if everyone stripped down it would make me feel better. LOL!! It's only fair, right? I kept thinking, "Well, at least I can keep my breasts covered during the birth," but my midwife said I need to bring baby to breast and start nursing right away. I wanted to say, "I'll do that after you walk out of the room."

 

I'm to the point where I haven't even experienced birth yet and I'm already thinking there is no way I can go through this a second time and next time I'll just have a UC. DH actually wanted to have a UC this time but I was afraid neither of us would know what to do. Now I'm sorry I didn't listen to him.

 

Please, please, please do not say during labor I won't care, that I'll lose all my modesty, I won't care who sees what. EVERYONE keeps saying that. And maybe it will be true. But it's doing nothing to ease my anxiety NOW while I'm waiting for that day to arrive. Does anyone have anything helpful to say to help ease my anxiety?


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#2 of 20 Old 09-04-2011, 08:28 PM
 
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You don't have to be totally naked to birth a baby. What if you wear something like a v-neck short night gown? That way it can be pulled up around your belly when you start pushing, and there's plenty of exposed skin at your chest for initial skin contact. And you can easily pull the shoulder down for breastfeeding too, without having the rest of yourself exposed. This would be especially easy with a nursing nightgown. 

 

This is your birth experience! You can wear clothes if that's what makes you comfortable. There is no right or wrong way to dress or conduct yourself during labor, as long as you're doing what's safe and healthy for you and your baby.

 

And I know it might be difficult - but your midwives aren't the "skinny women" in the room - they're medical professionals. They're there to help you bring your child into the world, not judge your body type. We're all different and beautiful in our own ways.  


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#3 of 20 Old 09-04-2011, 08:49 PM
 
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The first thing I would like to tell you is that you should tell your midwife you do not feel comfortable with your breasts hanging out during labor so you're going to wear a bra/cover up. This is your body, your labor, your decision - if she doesn't respect something simple like this - red flag.


Second thing I would like to tell you is that a birth skirt is really a very nice, modest cover up that allows full access to every thing the midwife may need to have access to - while also giving you the modesty you need.

 

I purchased a knit tube mini skirt at Target for $4 and since I am plus sized it works as a perfect birth skirt. Combine this with a bra or tank top or sports bra and you are covered enough to feel comfortable and also feed your baby as soon as it is born :)

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#4 of 20 Old 09-04-2011, 08:56 PM
 
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I've been at births where the mama is totally naked and lots of births with fully clothed women.
I've caught a baby where the mother knelt in the tub, fully clothed, in a skirt and top, and I never even saw her vagina until I checked her for tears post partum. I caught the baby by feel. If there had been a compelling reason to do something different, she'd have gladly allowed visual access, but it wasn't necessary. It was a totally G rated birth, lol.
The most important thing to remember is not to do anything you don't want to do. Don't take off your top if you don't want. Stay clothed if you want.
Assign one of your birth companions to be your modesty guard. I've certainly been the extra set of hands at the birth following the mama with a robe or towel to maintain her modesty. A nice flat bed sheet is helpful, because it drapes nicely over anything and has room to spare, unlike a bath towel. Especially a floral one or something, it just seems covering.
Birth tub is helpful, too. It just "seems" private under all that water.
It's certainly okay to bring the baby to your clad chest and just drop the cup on a nursing bra when it's time to nurse.

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#5 of 20 Old 09-04-2011, 09:51 PM
 
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I've thought about this too...  I havent had a home birth, but with my hospital birth I wore one of DH's long T shirts until they made me change into a robe, then I wore that.  It had a large hole in the front made by 2 overlapping pieces of fabric, so when the baby was born they opened up the hole and put her on my chest to BF.   You could wear like a snap up shirt and a skirt?

I think it is Very important for the woman to feel completely comfortable with herself and her surroundings during labor and delivery, so that she can fully relax and the pain is more managable if you are relaxed, so just do what feels right to you at the time.  For now, plan on being clothed! 

I have read Ina Mays books, and there are several birth stories about the Amish, and it is part of their culture to remain fully clothed for birth, so believe me it has been done!  And they wear long skirts.  I imagine it would be easier if the skirt was short, but once again, it is up to you!

something that also makes me feel better is thinking to myself  "these women have seen SOOOO many other women naked, I am just one in a million bodies"  Lol.  And I seriously dont think they will be judging you or care at all what you look like.  How I think about it is "I dont go around looking at other womens bodies and picking out things that are not perfect about them, so I dont imagine many other people do that either."  Honestly I hardly even pay attention to what other people look like at all.  I am SO much more interested in what they have to say and who they are inside.  Honestly.

And since this is something that concerns you, you could also mention this to your MW if you are comfortable doing that.  And she should totally respect how you feel.  I am sure you are not the only person who has expressed these feelings to her!

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#6 of 20 Old 09-05-2011, 06:47 AM
 
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Just do whatever you feel like when you're in labor. You can wear a moomoo (nightgown. theres even nursing nightgowns that you can pop your boob out of and not be exposed) or a sports bra and shorts up until pushing time and then just have a sheet draped over your legs when you push. If you really don't care during labor, by all means, bare it all, but if right now, covering up is what you want, then go into it thinking you'll be wearing a shirt and shorts and put a sheet over your legs. You could also request that they be "hands off" during pushing and just be in another room so that you CAN be naked.

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#7 of 20 Old 09-05-2011, 07:47 AM
 
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I was only naked with my 3rd birth - the first two I wore nightgowns. I am modest/self conscious too. The reason I ended up stark naked for my 3rd was it was a long labor and he was posterior and by the time I was 14-16 hours into the labor I was hot and sweaty and exhausted and just ripped the nightgown off and went all primal on everyone. At that point I didn't care - but it did take that much labor and pain to get to that point. Talk to your midwife - tell her you are modest and don't want that holding you back during labor and plan to be wearing a nightgown and a bra. You can always just pull part of your bra down (or get a nursing one) for the immediate moment after birth. If you deliver out of the water, you can easily bring the baby up to nurse and just leave a blanket or sheet over top of you.


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#8 of 20 Old 09-05-2011, 09:28 AM
 
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Everyone has such great advice, I just want to echo that you should speak to your midwife about it (I told my MW at my last appt that I won't be naked.  She didn't blink an eye.)  I am very modest and uncomfortable being naked- during my last labor I was in the hospital so I was wearing standard hospital stuff.  This time we're going to be at a birth center and I think I will wear undies, maybe shorts, and a tank top or sports bra.  Maybe I'll wear ALL those things and just remove layers as I feel like it or as is necessitated by pushing or nursing . Wear whatever makes you comfortable- you need to feel free and uninhibited at your birth so as to be able to move with the contractions and allow them to do their work.  So whatever amount of clothes you need to wear or not wear in order to feel comfortable is okay!

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#9 of 20 Old 09-05-2011, 09:37 AM
 
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Just chiming in as another 'I wasn't naked' mom! I never lost the need for modesty with dd1. I wore the hospital gown the entire time. It wasn't a big deal at all. Now, with dd2 I was completely naked the entire time... I could have cared less at that point! I think whatever you wear will be fine. :)


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#10 of 20 Old 09-05-2011, 11:33 AM
 
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Wonderful topic to discuss because I have been wondering about this too.  I am plus sized as well and the thought of being naked during birth has been bothering me.  I was thinking of buying a v-neck, spaghetti strap nighty-dress that will keep me more or less covered.  Something along these lines.  I can get them from Addition Elle, a wonderful company that supplies great clothing for plus sized gals here in Canada.  At least I think this will work for me... shy.gif

 

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#11 of 20 Old 09-05-2011, 01:35 PM
 
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You do whatever you need to do to feel comfortable.  It's your birth.  There are many different types of clothing you can wear and birth a baby in as well as nurse easily in afterward.  One that sticks out to me is this one: http://prettypushers.com/.  Or as pp's have said, you can just figure out something that works with regular maternity clothing (like a skirt and tank top or sports bra). 

 

With my first, I was at a birth center and arrived wearing my maternity yoga pants and a t-shirt.  When I got into the tub at 8cm, I just stripped everything off and didn't think anything of it.  With my second birth, I had a homebirth and I was in the same pants and a sweatshirt (it was January).  I did get naked to get in the tub, but was freezing, so I got out and put my clothes back on.  I labored that way for a while and then started to push and the baby came flying down to my perineum while my pants were still on!  I had to yell at dh to help me rip my pants off to get the baby out!   lol.gif

 

My advice: just go with the flow.  Do whatever works for you!


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#12 of 20 Old 09-05-2011, 01:50 PM
 
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Oh Honey, you sound just like me with my 1st.  I am a size 24 and would NEVER let anybody see anything above the knee, below the neck, etc.  Even thought DH and I have been together for 12 years I still feel self conscious when completely naked.  I had so much anxiety about the whole exposure during birth thing.  I had a homebirth planned and one of the big reasons was that I was afraid there was no way I could ever relax enough in a hospital setting, with skinny nurses, letting anything show.  

 

I had to transfer for a BP related induction at the hospital and my modesty didn't last very long.  I was totally naked for most of the birth and didn't care.  BUT, I could easily have remained mostly clothed and it wouldn't have been a problem,  I could have laboured in anything I wanted, even in the hospital.  

 

While I didn't care in the moment, I am self-conscious thinking about it, now.  I can't even BELIEVE so many people saw my body.  Yikes.

 

This time around, I know it will be a hospital birth and I plan to take a couple of nightgowns but mostly rely on the (very generously sized) gowns to labour in.  They felt like a big nightgown and can be replaced as often as necessary. I think I will also ask my DH to help keep me covered as well, even if my anxiety flees me - I would like to think back on this birth without the embarassment of so much nudity!!  

 

As for the breastfeeding - yep, you can pop a breast out of whatever you're wearing and can use a light blanket as a coverup, although the midwife will probably want to check on your latch to get you off on the right foot.  

 

So, I guess to sum it up - nobody can tell you what you need to do or wear - especially not in a homebirth setting.  You decide what is comfortable, get your partner to help you keep it in place and just tell everyone else that that's how it's going to be!

 

Hugs, I know this is hard.  

 

 


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#13 of 20 Old 09-05-2011, 03:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
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You mamas are the best. Thank you ALL so much! You all gave me answers without making me feel silly for asking such a question.

 

In all my anxiety I left out some details of the original post. I did tell my midwife on Wednesday at my appointment how I was feeling. She told me the standard line about how they see so many women naked, they don't even think about it, and I don't have to be naked but I will need my lower half accessible but then after the birth I'll need my chest accessible for breastfeeding and skin-to-skin contact. I wish I had cute perky little breasts that I wouldn't mind leaving exposed but mine are huge and stretched out and I am never comfortable without them covered. Even when I'm just lounging around the house I pretty much always have a bra on. I take it off for sleeping and showering (and BDing) and that's about it. She seemed fine with my wanting to wear clothes and told me to just make sure I had several options available because if I get in and out of the water I will want to change; I guess I'm filled with anxiety at even having to change in front of them. I guess I'll just have to say to everyone, "Can I have some privacy?" and DH can stay behind to help me change. He is the only person in the whole world who I'm comfortable being naked with. It won't be the first time he'll have had to dress me. I had pretty major surgery on my shoulder and bicep last year and had NO use of my left arm and I felt pretty useless. I could not bathe or dress myself for at least two weeks and after that I could bathe myself but putting on shirts & bras was a struggle for a long time! Anyway, I got off track. :) I have also told my doula via email how I feel but not in person.

 

Anyway, it sounds like I can be covered but just pop one breast out for BFing. I totally like the idea of skin-to-skin contact and if it was just DH, our baby, and me in the room, I'd be all for it. But I can also do the whole covering up with a sheet thing so thank you for that suggestion.

 

Berry, I'm glad to hear not everyone feels you lose your modesty and it took you getting to that point to lose yours. And Katico, yep, that's what I'm thinking too - that even if during the moment I don't care I will look back later and feel embarrassed. After my above-mentioned surgery, I had to pee so bad. I told a nurse and she brought me a bed pan. I was so out of it but still too embarrassed to use the bed pan so I held it. Finally hours later they let me up I could barely walk and it took two nurses to get me to the toilet. I really really needed their help but at the same time I was so embarrassed I wanted them to leave. I was in a lot of pain then but still able to think how embarrassing it was that these lovely ladies could see my bum and ladybits. When I got released they were dressing me and they skipped my bra. They just started putting on my shirt. I said, "Wait, I need my bra." And they said, "Oh, honey, you can't wear a bra for awhile." I started CRYING!! That's how self-conscious I am about my floppy boobs that I wouldn't even go braless in the winter with a thick shirt and winter coat. As soon as we got home I made DH help me put it on. I really couldn't get it over the injured shoulder so I wore it around my bust and only used the strap of the unaffected arm. It was almost as good and at least I felt supported and not exposed. I'm just saying this as an example of just how much I do care even when on painkillers, in pain, and pretty much out of it. My modesty is still right there at the forefront. :)


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#14 of 20 Old 09-05-2011, 04:09 PM
 
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I also don't see any reason why the midwives can't leave you and the baby alone for a while after the birth at which point you could remove your top for skin to skin and bfing.  You could even have a moment while the placenta is still inside you (as long as there are no complications).  It could take another half an hour (or more) for the placenta to come out after the baby is born and you will want to be holding baby during that time.  I had baby against my skin with my shirt up (it was cold, so I wanted my arms covered).

 

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Also, it's never to late to UC.  If that's what you and your dh really want, why not?  You can continue care with your mw if you want and then terminate services prior to the birth.  Make the birth EXACTLY what you want it to be.

 

I found that it did take me a bit to get comfortable breastfeeding in front of others and what helped me the most was surrounding myself with other women who were quite comfortable doing it.  So that would be a suggestion for later on- get to a LLL meeting, join some parenting groups, etc. so you can get that kind of support.  You'll see all sorts of breasts, all sizes, all floppiness levels.  Trust me.  Something you might find helpful is a nursing cover like this one: http://shop.bebeaulait.com/nc.  I got one b/c I was having some anxiety around NIP, used it a couple times, and then found like-minded mamas that helped me to feel okay about it.  But each to their own.  The one thing you don't want to have happen is your anxiety trumping your desire to nurse, so definitely arm yourself with things that make you feel comfortable.


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#15 of 20 Old 09-05-2011, 04:32 PM
 
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hehe I wish my boobs were pretty and perky too, but if I ever wanted that, I'd never have had children. Once you're pregnant and make the decision to breastfeed, they are no longer a sexual object. They are a part of nature, and needed by baby. Women who breastfeed or have breastfed in the past and most importantly your baby will not care how pretty your boobies are. It'd be nice if I still had my perky B cups, but the reality is, that'd only happen if I went under the knife, which I doubt will happen. Don't ever hesitate to kick out the birth team so you can breastfeed. It's YOUR home, and like Jaimee said, it's never too late to UC. :)

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#16 of 20 Old 09-05-2011, 06:12 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Girls, I'm definitely leaning towards a UC next time. My sister did it with her third and said it was wonderful. I guess it wasn't totally unassisted as her DH delivered the baby but it was just the two of them. I think that is so beautiful! But as anxious as I am about having everyone there, I think at this point (knowing so little about birth) I'd be too anxious doing a UC this time. But I'm definitely leaving it as an option!

 

Thanks for sharing your photo, Jaimee! :) I did go to one LLL meeting already and plan to go to another one this month and in October as well. :) I also have the number for a local breastfeeding mothers group that does counseling. I'm very excited about breastfeeding and think eventually I'll get comfortable with NIP but right after birth I think I'll want some privacy. I do plan to get a nursing cover for sure. Maybe I can even get that ahead of time and have it for right after the birth. :)


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#17 of 20 Old 09-05-2011, 07:20 PM
 
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Do you have any nursing tanks? That may be rightup your alley.

I love the Costco tanks. They are a shelf bra, so no lift, but the XL covers my 28/30 friend nicely. They are super stretchy. No need for a drop cup, they just stretch down. 2/$12.

When your size settles down, I'm sure you'll get some nice, sized bras. But for birth and immediately post partum, you'll want something, but size is so variable it's hard to spend the money.

I'd suggest 5 birth tub tops - sport bra, colored tank top, pjs, etc. In my experience, that will cover most births. You are asked to get out to pee occasionally. You can pre in the tub, of course, but it's good to move a bit and visiting the bathroom does that nicely. Anyway, you go to the bathroom all wet with your towel. After you sit, husband can hand you your new dry bra. No need for anyone else to see/help.

You might like some of the post partum girdle things that hold you in.
I personally cannot stand the flappy chub parts flapping and sticking to each other.
I've got a million friends to help me wrap post partum with a rebozo. But without that, you might enjoy a support tank or undies. Just something in your description triggered that thought that we might be alike.

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#18 of 20 Old 09-05-2011, 07:50 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks, Jane! DH was just talking about joining Costco. If we do I'll have to check that out! After posing the question to someone at a breastfeeding class about when to buy bras and finding out I should wait a bit and get some nursing tanks in the meanwhile, I did find some nursing tanks online (just a week or two ago) and I bookmarked them (on Expressiva I think it was called?). I love how everything can be covered except what's actually needed - no yanking the shirt down or up and exposing upper chest or belly. :) That is interesting that the XL fits a 28/30. If I get the ones at Costco (I'm guessing they're not strictly for nursing?) I'll have to remember that. I'm more like a 22 and often get XXL so it sounds like that would be huge on me.


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#19 of 20 Old 09-05-2011, 08:25 PM
 
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Yeah, I'm an 18/20 and tall. I was Stunned that the XL was just ridiculously big. So I passed 'em on and got some larges. Still fit over the preggo belly just fine. yeah, the Costco ones are just undershirts with a shelf bra. But I am so cheap. I have a few of the "cup" ones for out of the house, but I'm planning on the Costco ones I have for around the house, holding my nursing pads, offering something to absorb sweat, and holding my boobs roughly in place.

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#20 of 20 Old 09-06-2011, 08:45 AM
 
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Originally Posted by 2011mama View Post

Girls, I'm definitely leaning towards a UC next time. My sister did it with her third and said it was wonderful. I guess it wasn't totally unassisted as her DH delivered the baby but it was just the two of them. I think that is so beautiful! But as anxious as I am about having everyone there, I think at this point (knowing so little about birth) I'd be too anxious doing a UC this time. But I'm definitely leaving it as an option!

 

Thanks for sharing your photo, Jaimee! :) I did go to one LLL meeting already and plan to go to another one this month and in October as well. :) I also have the number for a local breastfeeding mothers group that does counseling. I'm very excited about breastfeeding and think eventually I'll get comfortable with NIP but right after birth I think I'll want some privacy. I do plan to get a nursing cover for sure. Maybe I can even get that ahead of time and have it for right after the birth. :)

 

I just want to keep throwing out there that UC is something you can absolutely prepare for at just about any point in your pregnancy.  It is ridiculously easy to find information and support- especially right here on MDC's UC forum.  You could always lurk in that forum and see if it feels right before writing off the idea all together. It's totally not my intent to push UC or anything, b/c in order to UC you should feel very confident in your decision and if it doesn't feel that way at all then it's not the right way to go at this time, but I want to encourage you to explore the option if you're still wishing that's the type of birth you were having.

 

Yes, get a nursing cover ahead of time.   If you end up not liking it you can always sell it.

 

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After posing the question to someone at a breastfeeding class about when to buy bras and finding out I should wait a bit and get some nursing tanks in the meanwhile, I did find some nursing tanks online (just a week or two ago) and I bookmarked them (on Expressiva I think it was called?).

 

Some women definitely change sizes pretty drastically when their milk comes in, but a lot of bras are designed to accommodate fluctuating size b/c after a few weeks they may decrease in size again.  So I would suggest having at least one nursing bra on hand before baby is born.  I have seen Expressiva advertised a lot in parenting magazines, but don't actually know anyone that has bought one of theirs to say what the quality is like.  There are a couple other threads in this forum about nursing bras you might want to check out.  I personally love Bravado bras and the Body Silk in particular.  They have great nursing tanks as well.  I'm not a huge fan of the Target brand tanks.  I had a friend that loved the Costco tanks as well, but as mentioned, they are not specifically for nursing, though they provide coverage under other things nicely (you can pull up your shirt and pull the tank down so top and bottom remain covered).
 

 


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