Is covering up anti-lactivism? (title changed :) - Mothering Forums

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Old 09-29-2011, 11:24 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm a new mama and very happy and proud to be breastfeeding da babe. Where I live right now I can NIP anywhere, anytime and it's no problem - Guatemala is very breastfeeding friendly! :)

 

However, I will be in the US soon and so I bought a nursing cover, even though I didn't really want to. Once in the US, I admit I'm a little intimidated because I'm afraid of dirty looks or comments about NIP. Can I nurse on the plane uncovered? Nurse in the Dallas airport uncovered?

 

There's a bit of a rebel in me for sure ~ I have been asked to cover up my tattoos before (like in work settings or around conservative family of friends) and this sorta triggers that same 'rage' in me having to cover up something I think is normal, cool and I'm not ashamed of. But at the same time sometimes it's nice to not be hassled or stared at.

 

I know I should do what makes me comfortable first and foremost - covering up or not - but am I doing a "disservice" to normalizing breastfeeding by covering up?

 

Thoughts?

 

 


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Old 09-29-2011, 11:35 AM
 
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I don't think you should feel obligated to use a cover.  I and many of the other nursing mothers I know have nursed in many different settings in many parts of the US with no problem at all. In fact, I usually receive lots of compliments about how pleasant my one year-old is to travel with--she does great on planes, trains, etc because she can nurse (her car seat is another story!).  Occasionally someone will notice that we are nursing and comment, but the comments are usually positive! I do tend to wear nursing shirts, so I am never all that exposed, but a cover has never seemed necessary.

Have a great trip!


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Old 09-29-2011, 12:17 PM
 
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If it makes a difference, in 22 months of nursing in public, I have received exactly one negative comment. I have nursed on planes, in airports, on park benches, in shopping malls, restaurants; pretty much anywhere, and I never cover up.

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Old 09-29-2011, 01:23 PM
 
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I don't own a cover.  When DD was about 3 months old I did try to cover up when I nursed her in the airport, but she would not have any of that.  Since then, I have not bothered covering up.  Now with DS (7.5 weeks) I just feed him where ever when ever he needs.  No covering up--it doesn't even cross my mind.  I say do what feels comfortable to you, if you don't want to cover up don't.  I have never had a negative comment.  The only time it was kind of awkward was when I was in a gondola and a random older gentleman decided to join us (we were a group of 2 families) and I nursed DD in front of him.  He was uncomfortable, but I thought it was funny.  

 

On the plane, I would bother with covering up, it can be hard enough to manuever in the seats with out bothering about a cover.  I have flown with DD several times and nursed her a lot.  It works great during landings and take offs and I have even had people tell me when we were exiting the plane that they did not even know they were sitting near a baby--since she hardly made a peep.

 


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Old 09-29-2011, 01:37 PM
 
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IDK, I've never really "covered up." But, it's not like I've waved my boob around either. I think there are extremes on both side of the fence. I am all for modesty but I'm not going to grab a comforter and get under it in a room across the street from anyone lol. Neither would I be all "I'm here get used to it! " lol. California was very liberal for BF so I didn't have a problem. IDK about Kentucky. But, I hope I don't run into any easily offended folks cause I'm gonna have to giggle.
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Old 09-29-2011, 02:58 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I guess my initial question was more like about lactivism - and if "covering" up does a disservice to trying to normalize NIP - not so much about comfort covering up.

 

However, the posts thus far have been very helpful!!!

 

But does covering up, as an action, do a disservice to NIP? While lots of women have had years of positive experiences, there are also those getting told to cover up at Safeway and their dang Dr.'s office! So is covering up like giving in to having to "hide" it? Does it take away from a sort of "movement" to make NIP more accepted?

 

When I was still pregnant a friend of mine covered up at a restaurant and she's super social justice-y and stuff and I was surprised - having no knowledge about the subject at the time I thought, What is she afraid of? I understand it could be a comfort thing, but I expected her to NIP with pride.

 

Just curious as to others' thoughts because before having my own kid I didn't know NIP was such a big deal and it pains me to have heard so many lame stories about women being told to cover up or leave - laws or no laws.


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Old 09-29-2011, 03:09 PM
 
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We alway nurse in public even my 2 year old. I really don't care who wants to give dirty look. Breastfeeding at natural thing and you shouldn't have to feel nervous.

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Old 09-29-2011, 03:13 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by nachipmunks View Post

We alway nurse in public even my 2 year old. I really don't care who wants to give dirty look. Breastfeeding at natural thing and you shouldn't have to feel nervous.



I agree! But is using a cover a symbol that the person "is" nervous, feel that they should hide it?

 

Is this a silly question? I'm genuinely interested from an activism point of view - do nursing covers mean we are not trying to normalize and celebrate NIP?


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Old 09-29-2011, 03:56 PM
 
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I only use a cover in specific situations: 1. in someone's home in which the mother covers herself when she feeds, and 2. when I'm in close quarters with other people, such as occasionally at Mass if there are a lot of people or more often if I'm at one of my son's sporting events.  I don't like feeling gawked at by teenagers. LOL  But, I don't feel like I'm making a statement.  I'm just feeding my kids.  And like another poster said, I get comments all the time on how good my babies are.  It's because I'm not reluctant to tend to their needs.  I don't use a nursing cover, but just a tube sling that I toss over one shoulder and the baby's head.  I have been nursing a baby for the last 9 years straight and an additional 2 years before that.  No one has ever said a negative thing to me, but some years back I did overhear an old lady whispering to her friend about it during Mass.  The friend said, "That's what they do now."  I couldn't figure out if she'd rather I let my kids' scream?  But I felt uncomfortable about that so I stopped going to daily Mass. :(


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Old 09-29-2011, 04:14 PM
 
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Covering up is totally about the comfort level of the mother, IMO. I have nursed all of my kids in public and have never received one negative comment--but we live in an area where breastfeeding is mainstream.

Despite that, lots of mothers cover up here when nursing. I've even had friends use a nursing cover at my house during playdates, when they know very well that I'm a big supporter of nursing. I don't think using cover-ups hurt lactivism, I think they often have to do with modesty.

Now, if you are comfortable NIP without a cover and then put one on because of other people's negativity, that would hurt lactivism. I think lactivism is about women having the right to choose when, where, and how they feed their children. Being pressured or shamed out of that choice is where it crosses the line.
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Old 09-29-2011, 04:23 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spring Lily View Post

Now, if you are comfortable NIP without a cover and then put one on because of other people's negativity, that would hurt lactivism. I think lactivism is about women having the right to choose when, where, and how they feed their children. Being pressured or shamed out of that choice is where it crosses the line.

 

thanks, that's what i was wondering ~ where i was trying to go with my question :)


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Old 09-30-2011, 09:59 AM
 
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Ah, I see now what your question is.

 

No. Asking women to cover? Check, that is anti-lactivist. Asking women to leave a space because they are nursing? Also anti-lactivist.

 

But for a mom who just wants to feed her kids but feels like she lives in a time and a place where she would prefer to use a cover--to call her an anti-lactivist bugs me. She's not!! And she should absolutely in no way feel like there are other nursing mothers who are judging her. We need to be kind to each other.

 

Having said that, I personally don't cover up, and would be uncomfortable if I felt I had to do so. It would make me feel like I was ashamed of something that I should not be ashamed of--so I completely understand where you are coming from. But how we nurse our babies and what we are comfortable with is such a very very personal thing that I tread very carefully here. I don't live in that woman's body and she doesn't live in mine, and so we do things differently.

 

And honestly? I would much prefer to point my lactivist energy toward things like making sure moms have legal rights and the wherewithal to pump at work and all the support and encouragement they need from the wider community. Things that unite us rather than possibly dividing us, I think.

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Old 09-30-2011, 10:38 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Ah, I see now what your question is.

 

No. Asking women to cover? Check, that is anti-lactivist. Asking women to leave a space because they are nursing? Also anti-lactivist.

 

But for a mom who just wants to feed her kids but feels like she lives in a time and a place where she would prefer to use a cover--to call her an anti-lactivist bugs me. She's not!! And she should absolutely in no way feel like there are other nursing mothers who are judging her. We need to be kind to each other.

 

Having said that, I personally don't cover up, and would be uncomfortable if I felt I had to do so. It would make me feel like I was ashamed of something that I should not be ashamed of--so I completely understand where you are coming from. But how we nurse our babies and what we are comfortable with is such a very very personal thing that I tread very carefully here. I don't live in that woman's body and she doesn't live in mine, and so we do things differently.

 

And honestly? I would much prefer to point my lactivist energy toward things like making sure moms have legal rights and the wherewithal to pump at work and all the support and encouragement they need from the wider community. Things that unite us rather than possibly dividing us, I think.



awesome ~ thanks, totally clarifies what was rolling around in my head! i agree.


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Old 09-30-2011, 10:52 AM
 
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IDK, I think that if I can't see the boobage, and someone says "cover up" like it's porn then it's going to get ugly. But, for the most part I don't think using a cover in and of itself is anti-lact. I think anything that makes my baby have a negative meal time is anti-lack. I mean, my feelings and emotions travel and I know the baby can sense if I am uncomfortable. But, I also don't see getting topless in the middle of a mall productive ROTFLMAO.gif But, in the end it's a to each her own decision. I know some women who truly feel better covering up and might not nurse otherwise thus encouraging them to get bold might damage the cause. Asking those brave enough to flash a little more skin to tone it down might stop them from wanting to nurse too so that could backfire. Either way, as long as the baby gets fed and nobody gets hurt, I'm good lol
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Old 10-05-2011, 11:06 AM
 
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Here's another reason to cover up that has nothing to do with lactivism. Some babies go through a stage where they get distracted by anything and everything around them. When that happens, it's hard to keep them latched on, especially when you're in public, where there's so much to see. During this stage, a cover can be useful. It blocks out the interesting world out there, and focuses the baby on eating. Once he or she gets through this stage, you can ditch the cover again.

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Old 10-07-2011, 12:37 PM
 
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I live in Dallas and have nursed both my children uncovered. My daughter has not flown yet, but my son did when he was a nursling - at 14 months and 18 months old! winky.gif We nursed in the Dallas airport (among many others) and on many planes. 

Legally we can. And no one has said a word to us except once - at the Department of Health and Human Services (go figure). Someone handed me a single paper towel to cover up with (lol.gif real discreet, lady!) and I simply set it on the seat next to me and continued to nurse. No one said another word.

Be a rebel! You don't need your entire boob hanging out (though I have done that on rare occasion with DS when wearing a tank top and not expecting to be asked to nurse). You can just pull your shirt over the breast.. rarely can you see anything when we nurse. 

In Texas, a woman may nurse her child where she and the child are otherwise authorized to be. So you can't nurse in a bar. But not because you can't breastfeed - but because your baby can't be in a bar in the first place. But a plane, airport, Target, a park - all those places, yes, you can. It's your legal right.


On the note of doing a disservice. I want a mother to do whatever SHE feels most comfortable with, and I would rather a mother nurse covered up than feel too uncomfortable and give bottles instead. However, I am extremely PRO-uncovered NIPing. The more we see it, the more normal it becomes. Plus, covering up makes it WAY more obvious, to me anyway. But, again, I want a mama to do whatever makes HER most comfortable. Not the people around her, but HER. If she wants to NIP at the all with her entire boob out, I support her. If she wants to cover up at a LLL meeting, I support her. 


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Old 10-07-2011, 12:40 PM
 
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Originally Posted by njeb View Post

Here's another reason to cover up that has nothing to do with lactivism. Some babies go through a stage where they get distracted by anything and everything around them. When that happens, it's hard to keep them latched on, especially when you're in public, where there's so much to see. During this stage, a cover can be useful. It blocks out the interesting world out there, and focuses the baby on eating. Once he or she gets through this stage, you can ditch the cover again.



Until you get one who would find it that much more fun to snatch the cover off and wave it around like a flag. lol.gif


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Old 10-07-2011, 08:43 PM
 
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i can see where you feel that covering up is anti-lactivism. i never covered as it is only about mine and my baby's comfort and not anyone elses hang ups. you should only cover if that makes it easier and more successful for you to be able to nurse in public. i am totally against covering up for the convenience and comfort of others though.


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Old 10-08-2011, 10:13 AM - Thread Starter
 
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i can see where you feel that covering up is anti-lactivism. i never covered as it is only about mine and my baby's comfort and not anyone elses hang ups. you should only cover if that makes it easier and more successful for you to be able to nurse in public. i am totally against covering up for the convenience and comfort of others though.



just to clarify, i don't think covering up is anti-lac...i was just wondering if others did. i'm new to all this and find it interesting and kind of maddening how wacky american culture is about NIP! :) i didn't know this before having my own kid!

 

the responses from above posts have been super interesting :) thanks ~


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Old 10-08-2011, 11:06 AM
 
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I don't use a cover. Ever. And I nurse a very distracted 14 month old. I nurse from the top of my shirt/dress. If I'm not quick to get my boob back into my top I'm left exposed...and I have the freckles on my boobs to prove it!.

To me, yes. It's a disservice to all nursing mothers. I feel that it is, in one way or another, putting out the message that nursing/breasts are something beyond simply feeding a baby.

FWIW, with all the time I've spent with my boobs hanging out I've never gotten as much as a raised eyebrow. I have gotten tons of praise for nursing. I'm also in an area where, to date, I've never seen another woman nurse her child in public unless it was a friend I already knew.


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Old 10-16-2011, 08:49 PM
 
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I think every mom has to seek her own comfort level. We get enough guilt as it is, for tons of different things. If another mom doesn't want to let it all hang out, then she shouldn't be made to feel like she's being a Bad Lactivist for it if that is her preference, any more than a mom who feels okay with not covering should be made to feel bad about not covering. I've heard variants of this as a Bad Feminist argument lots of times: if you take your husband's name/stay home with your kids/shave your legs/wear makeup/whatever, you are undermining feminism. It just gets ridiculous, with people wasting their own and others' time judging others rather than working on their common cause.

 

I own a cover and have used it exactly once--in the privacy of my own home, to see if it helped with my daughter's distractibility. It didn't. I do think it's a little peculiar that in one of the two breastfeeding groups I sometimes go to, almost all of the moms nurse with covers, and this is in a room with only moms, babies, and (female) LCs. Oh well, different strokes.

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Old 10-17-2011, 04:32 PM
 
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No, covering up while breastfeeding in itself is NOT anti lactivism.

 

I personally DO cover up when I'm in certain situations in public. WHY? because it makes me feel more comfortable, plain and simple. Do I think it is necessary? nope. But I want to, so I do. If someone else doesn't want to, I feel that is perfectly acceptable too. 

 

 

So, go with how YOU feel, and ignore how you think other people will feel in this situation. Good luck, momma and I pray that your trip goes by beautifully and without incident!


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Old 10-20-2011, 04:44 PM
 
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I have thought a lot about this question, and here is what it comes down to for me: if mama uses a cover for her/baby's comfort, then it is totally awesome.  If mama feels she must use a cover because of other people's comments/looks/reactions then using a cover is unfortunate, but not anti-lactivist because (imo) those covers scream "Hi, I'm nursing!" -- which is great!

 

However, I think the choice to not cover can be an active form of lactivism.  Personally, I have chosen to nurse without a cover, and to not move to a more "private" location many times with the specific thought that my actions would help to normalize breastfeeding in our culture.  Just that it's no big deal... so other potential parents can see that it's not inconvenient, or that you don't have to show skin if you breastfeed without a cover.

 

Since the public opinion I am hearing these days is much more "breastfeed is great, but the only modest/discreet way to do so is to cover up/go somewhere else," I hope that my choice to breastfeed uncovered will make more women feel confident to breastfeed in public whether or not they personally choose to use a cover.


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Old 10-20-2011, 09:37 PM
 
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I think that whatever you and your babe are comfy with is the most important.  A baby fighting to get out of some sort of covering is pretty weird- but me and my sisters all nurse really openly and we have had some resistance with the public and that's OK with us...we stand our ground pretty well.  If I did not come from a family of nursing mamas I would do it however I could.  Mostly make sure sure your babe is getting what he/she need out of the interaction- cover or no.

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Old 10-20-2011, 09:52 PM
 
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I don't think I am a lactivist or anti-lactivist (def. not the latter), but I cover up. It's just cultural, I suppose; nay, definitely. But I have seen women nurse their children on trains and buses a lot in India. They just pull their saree over the child. It is NIP, everyone knows what's going on, but covered. And I've never heard anyone comment about it. I don't even remember giving it a second thought unless the child was amusing and I was upset that he/she was taken away from being my play thing, lol (goes to show how young I was). But jokes apart, I sat on a bus in India this past summer, and the woman next to me nursed her child on the bus. Just like that. The child was fussing, she nursed. My daughter is very pleasant on buses and planes too, just because she can retire to her comfort zone. But yes, I do cover up. It has nothing to do with the act of nursing so much as my skin showing that I am not comfortable with.

 

On the other hand, it does not bother me when a woman NIPs (it did, pre-baby, if a man not her partner was around; big surprise I am a prude :-)), but now, you've gotta do what you've gotta do, and if people don't like it, tough! Let them look away.


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Old 10-21-2011, 12:12 PM
 
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I once came across this blog about covering up being a feminist issue. I thought it was an excellent take on the subject.

 

http://www.phdinparenting.com/2011/02/20/coveringup/

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Old 10-21-2011, 01:08 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I once came across this blog about covering up being a feminist issue. I thought it was an excellent take on the subject.

 

http://www.phdinparenting.com/2011/02/20/coveringup/



thanks for sharing this. very cool


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Old 10-26-2011, 12:31 PM
 
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I have only covered up twice in public. My DD was a couple weeks old and we were at an airport. We still hadn't gotten breastfeeding down and the hormones were still raging so it was more comfortable for me to cover. Since then I've nursed a hand full of time in public and not covered. It's just easier for us not to now. 

 

I think covering up could still be seen as a form of lactivism, in the way that it still draws a wee bit of attention to what you're doing. People may not gawk at you but I think the connection is made in their brain that, yes this woman is nursing a baby. yes underneath that cover is a baby on a boob. So in a round about way breastfeeding awareness is still being made. "Oh i see she is covered. She must be nursing. How nice. Look how calm/good/nice/peaceful that is." Does that make sense? In my mind it's a round about way of still bringing awareness to breastfeeding in public. We've established that some people just aren't comfortable exposing themselves and we've established that some babies are so nosy curious they need a cover so they can focus on the task at hand; so as long as it is for mum and/or baby's comfort it's all good. 

 

NOW...I think we need to find some covers that have a big ol' pro-nursing message on em! "Boob Buffet: Baby Only!" 


If evil means to be self-motivated, to be the center of one’s own universe, to live on one’s own terms, then every artist, every thinker, every original mind, is evil. Because we dare to look through our own eyes rather than mouth clichés lent us from the so-called Fathers…three cheers for Eve. -...

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