In Islam, it is the child's right to be nursed until atleast the age of 2. As an observant muslim woman who wears the hijab, I prefer to nurse my son modestly. When he was younger, I used a nursing cape and it worked wonders. As he got older, he would get very distracted and stimulated by environment, he seemed to like playing peek-a-boo with the cape! I had to drop the cape and would just use my scarf to cover up. My son is really in love with his blankey- which also works as a great cover up.
I find that you can be completely covered and still get bad looks. I don't think its the actual amount of skin that bothers people... I think its the idea of mothering at the breast. I think sometimes, other mothers may feel guilty because they never experienced breastfeeding... they feel like breastfeeding mothers are a reminder that the formula they fed their babies was not good enough in comparison to breastmilk.
I am also a Labour and Birth Doula and I have witnessed babies self latching within the first hour after birth. It is the most amaaaaaazing thing because it is just a reminder that our body was made to birth and our breasts were made to nurse!
I would encourage all of you to nurse on and cherish the bond that comes with mothering at the breast!
I did, because it was far easier than pumping which never worked for me at all, and carrying around bottles and supplies. I can't remember specifically how old he was when I started NIP but I would imagine at least four or so months old and by that time I was able to do it so discreetly that I never bothered to cover up on top of that.
I do nurse my baby in public. Why? because sometimes he gets hungry in public ;) I rarely see women BF in public and usually when they are I see them using a cover. I myself do not cover up because I don't feel that it is necessary. Plus, none of my kids would/will stay latched on when there is something over them. They prefer not to be covered so I don't.
As for modesty, I see women showing more of there boobs in a low cut shirt than show when I nurse my baby. My nipple is exposed for about .5 seconds until it is covered by a hungry little mouth. So, as long as no one is staring at my boobs they won't see anything they may not want to ;) I have actually called people perverts for staring at my breasts when they complain about me exposing myself :) I don't need something over me to nurse discreetly. Unless you are ogling my breasts it is discreet.
I have also been known to remind people that I am a mammal. As a mammal, I produce milk for my young via my mammary glands. Society has sexualized breasts to the point that it is seen as unacceptable to use them for their true purpose---feeding baby humans. Which is sad and not my problem. Nor is it enough to make me stop nursing and/or stop leaving my house on the chance that my baby might get hungry and want to eat while we are out in public. Or go sit in a bathroom or some other designated spot. Or put a blanket over my baby's head when they are obviously uncomfortable with it.
When I do see women proudly nursing in public I always say hello and thank them. They all seem surprised and share w/me that most of the comments/looks they get are not supportive or nice :( I do not get as many comments/looks now as I did 4 years ago w/my son so maybe times are a changin'
For women who cover up out of their own sense of modesty I understand their feelings and support their desire/decision to cover up while they nurse. However, I hope it is their own choice and for their own comfort and not due to the societal pressures and bassakwards societal "norms" that cause people to stare disgustedly at BF Mom while smiling and saying Hi to the woman who just stuck a bottle in her baby's mouth.
I nurse in public because as Ghandi says, "Go and be the change you wish to see in the world."
I really like your comment. Thank you. None of my sons would nurse with a cover over them, and thus I had to stuff the modesty issue, and do what was right- feed my babies. I was so embarrassed at first, and I got loads of negative comments and dirty looks, but I had researched and I knew what a great thing breastfeeding was, so I didn't give up. Americans DON'T like breastfeeding. I was even sitting in front of Victoria's Secret one day, nursing my first, and the older ladies came by time after time to growl at me and ask me to cover up....when I saw the mostly naked full-size lady pictured behind me I was shocked at the irony of that. :) I think a centimeter of my flesh was visible, but that was vulgar to them. Ah well, here we go again. I'm about to give birth, and I'll have to be "out there".
I do make a point to give a big thank you to any woman I see breastfeeding without a cover, because she is helping us all (granted, that would be a total of 2 women in the past 4 years, but still...)
I also think it's important to note that is has only been women who make the negative comments and looks! I've never seen a man bothered by it, or think it's sexual. I've even had many older gentlemen coo at the nursing baby, not even noticing or caring it's attached to a breast. :)
I proudly nurse my baby anywhere and anytime she is hungry or even if she just wants comfort. She is now 18 months and still asks to nurse at the park, the library, the grocery store and I don't cover her up. What I've observed is that people really don't seem to notice my BFing in public and I'd they do, they don't say anything. I've only had one salesman in a furniture store tell me where the restroom was when I told my daughter that we would sit down to nurse. My response to him was "We don't nurse in the bathroom, that's gross." and he didn't get angry, if anything I think it opened his eyes to his mistake. I also think nursing is the most convenient way to feed a baby. I've never understood that argument either. Pumping, washing bottles, washing pump, freezing and thawing milk, or making formula seems much harder. And if we are out and I forgot to bring a snack for the baby, I have one attached to me at all times. :)