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Why, do you think, that NIP is so controversial? My belief has always been that people who have problems with NIP also have problems with breastfeeding in general, but attack public nursing as an easier target. I feel like it is important for them to play up and keep in play the idea of the immorality of possible exposure in order to cast NIP in a negative light. Of paramount importance is that no one should be made to feel uncomfortable, and a person who would make another feel uncomfortable is committing a grievous offense. I've often heard of mothers who breastfeed in front of another person categorized as rude, tasteless or self involved.<br><br>
There is a group of people who seem to think that NIP is fine as long as it is accompanied by The Blanket. The blanket that drapes over the mother's entire frontside so as to hide the baby well enough that others can't see his head positioned in an area near the chest. For some, even the blanket isn't enough, since they know what is going on under there. I know that at some point in time, pregnant women were not supposed to go out in public, because pregnancy, of course, tells others in a quite real way that this woman has been engaging in intercourse. I believe that not all people who are opposed to NIP or who see it as immoral are opposed to breastfeeding in general. I think some of them are of a different generation or culture where things related to your personal self are seen as shameful. So you have to hide the fact that you poop, pee, copulate, breastfeed, fart, what have you. It's almost as if breastfeeding is a necessary "evil" like having sex in order to get pregnant, or defecating once you've digested, but it isn't anything you would ever want to draw attention to. I'm not exactly sure why eating doesn't seem to fall into this category since if you eat, inevitably you will defecate; there is just something about the breasts for some people and they seem offended by anything that makes them think of a baby suckling at a breast.<br><br>
Returning to the group who seems to be mollified by NIP if the big blanket is used, why do you think that is? I know some of them believe that I might be more comfortable that way and that I would want the privacy. Sometimes the motivations of this group are a little hard to figure out since they might say something like, "Well, of course you don't want to flash anyone" as they are covering you, implying that if you don't accept the blanket, you are saying that you would want to flash someone and you don't care about propriety. But I think part of the satisfaction that comes is that a mother who uses blanket to cover herself is seen as being willing to accommodate others, it is a sign of respect even if it has very little utility. If you claim that your baby doesn't like it, it's harder for you or you don't like the way it draws attention to you, you are being selfish and not considering the needs of others.<br><br>
All of this is complicated by the fact that there are people who draw inferences of your willingness to NIP and assign motivations. Kind of like I am doing with people who are opposed to NIP, I know, and I'm really not trying to be hypocritical here. My husband has made comments to the effect that I like to NIP and try to do it everywhere as I am trying to make a political statement. I want someone to challenge me so I can rip them a new one. This is simply not true. I want to be brave and nurse in the face of potential adverse reactions because I think it is important for making breastfeeding normal in the long run. I also want some freedom to move around in society, and I'm willing to stand up for myself. But I am easily upset and I don't like to offend people, so I'm not sure how I would act if people did harrass me. The bottom line is that most times I breastfeed in public, I'm usually just thinking about my baby and getting her fed and comforted. Even so, there are times I often worry about what others are going to think.<br><br>
The fact that a baby has real and immediate needs does not sway some people. They are tired of having to accommodate children in society, and think we should live more in the ideal of children being seen but not heard. So I am expected to plan my day around when my child might want to eat, and not go out if I will have to feed her. Or, I should take bottles. In fact, some people, I wager, support bottlefeeding for the very fact that breastfeeding is "gross" and they should not have to be confronted with it. Of course, the idea that my freedom to move about in the world and my baby's need to eat should take backseat to another person's desire not to feel any discomfort is rather ludicrous to me. I should stay home or deny my baby because another person cannot turn his or her head?<br><br>
It is important to understand that I am talking about discreet nursing, not showing nipple or even as much breast as would be revealed by a low cut blouse. Unless I am in an LLL meeting, I usually pull my shirt down as low as I can get it without interfering with the baby's mouth. So the blanket, as I see it, is something designed to hamper me and single me out. If I am sitting, covered by a blanket, I have to stay in one area and not walk around. My blanket either warns people away, or it enables them to avoid seeing the baby's head at my chest level. I don't use a blanket, because I can't get the baby latched on, and then she cries and the blanket falls and things are much noisier and harder. If I do use a cover it is in the form of a sling, and mostly what I try to keep covered is my fat midsection. But once when I was at a holiday dinner and we were sitting around a game table, I had to nurse my baby and I decided that the people there would appreciate me using a blanket.<br><br>
It was rather disastrous as I put my head under and the blanket kept falling down drawing a lot of attention to me, which is what I was trying to avoid, and then I got frustrated and I made breastfeeding look a lot harder than it actually is. So I finally got up, walked away, took my whole breast out, got the baby latched on and came back and sat down without the blanket. I know that if I had taken my whole breast out in front of these people, they would have been offended, and frankly I did not wish to expose myself in that manner anyway. I really don't want to show anyone my breasts, their belief to the contrary notwithstanding. I have heard arguments against NIP saying that women who do this are "trying to steal my husband."<br><br>
Circling back to my first assertion, that there are those who fight against NIP because they don't like breastfeeding in general, I've heard one of the breastfeeding cons stated as the breastfeeding mothers will have to use bottles anyway when in public, or if they don't, then they will have to nurse in public and that is <b>wrong</b>. "Some of those breastfeeders care more about breastfeeding than they care about offending others, therefore breastfeeding is bad." OK, maybe it is just one nutcase who thought this and I wouldn't say it is a really prevalent idea, but I have heard the idea of bottles being a necessity expressed by more than one. I am very careful not to expose my breast, so the argument about seeing something indecent just doesn't hold water; I do this so it cannot be used as an argument about my public nursing, it there are still those who would have a problem with it.<br><br>
In any event, I reject The Blanket as a sign of oppression. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/orngbiggrin.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="orange big grin"> Yes, I am being a little silly here, but I want NIP naysayers to understand why I don't use a cover: 1) I don't need one as I can get the baby latched and nursing without flashing anything. 2) I don't like it and it makes things more difficult for me, so I feel like I am making breastfeeding look more difficult than it is. 3)I can nurse in a sling or walk around nursing with a babe in arms, and I think my movement would be more restricted if I had to worry about the blanket falling off. Maybe that is a silly reason, but<br>
I've always had trouble actually keeping the blanket in place and have had to get a second person to help drape me. Maybe I just need a bigger blanket, but the sling makes that redundant. I don't even carry a diaper bag, so I don't want to bring my baby quilt with me wherever I go.<br><br>
If I thought that I would discomfort someone by nursing in front of them, I'd probably just turn away and go to a different part of the room where they didn't necessarily have to see me. Like I might get up from the dinner table and go and lie on the floor in the living room, or sit on a more comfortable chair. So it's not like I don't take other people's feelings into consideration, but usually those people are not respectful of me, judging from the comments they make about certain controversial topics. It is interesting how this idea of not making others feel uncomfortable only extends to certain things. Gay people shouldn't flaunt their sexuality by holding hands in public. Girls can wear bikinis or skimpy clothing in public as long as they aren't fat. Making off color jokes can be OK because you are uptight if you get offended. But certain things are taboo in people's minds.<br><br>
If you are wondering why I have written all this, it is because I am trying to work through my feelings on the topic. I do feel some people feel uncomfortable by nursing mothers because it might be a visible reminder that that person didn't breastfeed and they might have unresolved feelings about this. Also, I have internalized some of the feelings of others toward NIP. I remember as a child, my mother made disparaging comments about another mom who would do this openly; perhaps I haven't quite rejected that, because when I do latch my baby on and nurse her in front of visitors, especially male, I wonder if they feel offended and think I am doing it on purpose. We just had a Memorial Day BBQ and I nursed my daughter several times just sitting in the rocking chair. No one could see my breast, so why should a thought of another person's discomfort even cross my mind? I really don't know what about the idea of a baby or child drinking milk from a mother's breast is so provocative to some, but it does seem to cause some strong reactions.<br><br>
Of course, I can't help but wonder if the formula companies used to make an issue of this, or if it is a backlash against the type of people who embraced things like breastfeeding and natural childbirth. I really don't know, but I'd like to get to the point where I don't worry I'm going to have someone say something negative to me.
 

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Beautiful and thought-provoking post, Amy. I gleaned so much from it. Thank you. No real insights, just agreement. Thank you.
 

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I think that people are uncomfortable seeing women's breasts because in this culture, breasts are nudity. They think that a blanket is a way to be modestly covered.<br><br>
After doing a lot of NIP, I think this is not true for most mothers. For most of us, when the baby is a newborn, it's too hard to get him latched on under a blanket. When the baby is 3 or 4 to 6 or 7 months, the blanket distracts him and he pulls it down. (Of course, during those months it's not so easy to NIP because they get so distracted by people!) When the baby is older, he might even want to look at the breast!<br><br>
I know that some of us are working on this problem from the perspective of changing the cultural definition of nudity so that breasts are no longer considered naked. You know, like elbows--elbows aren't naked, even if someone can see them. I am not willing to take this on!<br><br>
I think of it this way: they really can't see my breast while I'm nursing, so anyone objecting is objecting to nursing conceptually, and not to my breast. Which is pretty much what you are saying, Amy. No one has actually objected to me nursing without a blanket--except my mother! Ah well, I hope she's over that by now...
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>captain optimism</strong></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I know that some of us are working on this problem from the perspective of changing the cultural definition of nudity so that breasts are no longer considered naked. You know, like elbows--elbows aren't naked, even if someone can see them. I am not willing to take this on!</div>
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I remember someone making fun of my sister when she was a toddler because her bottom was showing, and my mom started laughing and pointing at the other child's hand and saying, "Oh, I can see your hand." That's my mom for ya'.<br><br>
It used to be that bathing suits covered up a lot, and now they reveal a lot. An ankle showing used to be considered improper. And in the Little House books, there is reference to Ma being shamed and sent home from school when she combed her hair so that her ears showed.
 

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I refuse to be blanketed too! I have said to my dh that I ought to make a special blanket like the one I saw in a Hathor cartoon: It had big naked breasts printed on it!! So if I'm ever asked to cover up, I could whip out my boob...blanket! If I'm feeling fiesty. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/orngbiggrin.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="orange big grin">
 

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wow. what an extremely well written post.<br><br>
I've nursed three babies and the only time i've ever covered up was actually recently at a bbq for memorial day. I draped my towel over me because i was wearing a bathing suit that was not nursing accessible and was not myself comfortable exposing my whole breast at the pool with teenage boys and old farts looking on. And i was too lazy (ok, i was only a few days post surgery so i had that excuse too) to get up and leave the pool area to nurse.<br><br>
My buddy was in the same predicament so she and i dangled our feet in the water while our nurslings ate each under their own lightweight towel. It was ok because WE chose to do it, not because anyone asked us to, kwim?<br><br>
I've had people leave the room cuz i'm nursing. I've told my fil flat out he'll be leaving the room alot cuz we nurse alot <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/wink1.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="wink1"><br>
I've never been asked not to nip anywhere in 1989 with my first dd, in 2000-2002 with my second or with this baby in the past 10mos. I think if you excude confidence that what you're doing is not only ok, but what is best that people think twice about saying something or approaching you.<br><br>
i never cover up - it does seem to make more work and make bfing look more difficult. pl us i live in arizona. my baby would SWELTER half the year under some kind of covering.<br><br>
i do like the idea of a breast cover-up tho. Maybe not only should it have two large breasts with nipples, but maybe milkies squirting out of the nipples. Or text that says "yes. the baby is breastfeeding under here" with one of those arrows pointing toward the chest.<br><br>
he he he
 

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Lol, sometimes I tuck the sling underneath DS's head, around my waist...not to hide my breast, but to hide my middle fat roll, lol! Imagine a world where BF was as accepted as the sun rising and setting....FF babies would be fed from blanket-cloaked bottles. "OMG, why can't she *leave" that hunk of plastic at home <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/eyesroll.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="roll"> "
 

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Wonderful post, Amy. I too rejected The Blanket despite well meaning aunts who kept mentioning it. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/rolleyes.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="rolleyes"><br><br>
I feel most comfortable not exposing a lot of breast, either; fortunately for me DS didn't really play at the breast until he was older and I could then gently redirect him. It was more about me not wanting him pulling at my clothes too much (which tends to annoy me and make me bad, mad mama) than real modesty or consciousness of others, though.<br><br>
It was important to me, too, to make BF look as easy and as natural as possible, and part of that to me was doing it "discreetly" and without the blanket. I think it's great when people do a double take having not realized baby was nursing.
 

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No blanket here either <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile">. Great post, Amy.<br><br>
Interesting anecdote ~ my sister just returned to the states after living for 7 years in rural Costa Rica. While she was visiting me, I showed her my newest sling and showed her how I could nurse "discreetly" in it if I wanted too. She just rolled her eyes and said, "Americans are so wierd about breastfeeding! No one in Costa Rica ever covers up. In fact, people are embarassed if they have to bottlefeed so they do that in private so no one will judge them for not breastfeeding."
 

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Very well written. I too reject the blanket and I wish I had from day one.
 

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Amy- What a great post, thank you.<br><br>
I never used a blanket. It was just so awkward and I never used nursing tops because my supply was so prolific and my son was such a sloppy eater (to put it not so nicely <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"> ) that I would soak thru the shirt around the openings! it was just easier to lift my shirt.<br><br><br>
edited to add: I meant to comment on your signature. I love it! I love to cook and can only after my son has gone to sleep. He's a little helper too! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/love.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="love">
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>JayGee</strong></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">In fact, people are embarassed if they have to bottlefeed so they do that in private so no one will judge them for not breastfeeding."</div>
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I knew I loved Costa Rica for a reason!<br><br>
That is just amazing. I wish we were as evolved in our thinking about infant feeding.
 

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amazing post! thank you!<br><br>
you know, i think having The Blanket over you just draws more attention. i can bet alot of people don't even realize we're nursing, but if we had a big huge blanket over us, we'd stick out like a sore thumb.
 

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I also proudly reject The Blanket!! Not only do I not believe in its message, but I'm WAY too klutzy with this first nursling to use one... What a great, thoughtful post, thank you! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/wink1.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="wink1">
 
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