Monday, February 10, 2014

I've got to stop hiding my nursing baby...

Every Sunday I play the piano for the children at our church. Last Sunday, my 1yr old baby couldn't wait for the end of Sunday School to eat (can you believe her?) so I discreetly sat at the back of the room and nursed her. She was immediately quiet and content, and no one seemed to notice or care- except my SON! My 8 yr old son turned around and saw me feeding his sister and immediately gave me a look-to-kill; actually the look along with the pointing of his finger towards the door said something more like this: "Mom! It's not OK to feed our baby in public! Go to the mother's room! Your embarrassing me!"

Usually I do go to the mother's room while at church- simply because I enjoy the peace and quiet of a soft lounge chair while nursing and the privacy to pull my entire dress up (when necessary), and not have my other four kids climbing on us at the same time. But that day I was wearing a nursing friendly outfit and frankly I didn't feel like walking to the other side of the building to sit in a freezing cold nursing room and then try to race back to make it back in time to play the piano for the next segment. Not that I need to justify myself. :)


But my son, who has grown up in a house where breastfeeding, pumping, discussions about birth etc are all normal facts of life still carries the baggage of a culture with a double standard, where women who nurse their babies in public are considered lewd and images that portray sexy women are considered appropriate. I've realized that going to the nursing room to nurse my baby is sending the wrong message to my son. In fact, covering up while nursing my baby in public is sending the wrong message to my son. There is nothing lewd going on, and therefore no reason to cover up or go to a private room (although there is a lot to be said for peace and quiet!)

I'm no longer going to allow the double standard adopted by those around me to dictate where I feed my baby. I really appreciate Pope Francis encouraging mothers to nurse in the Sistine Chapel and campaigns that encourage mothers to nurse in public (like this one recently circulated on buzzfeed). Someday we will look back and laugh that such a campaign was ever needed, but until then, for my son's sake, I've got to stop hiding my nursing baby.

(sorry for the lewd picture- but it just says it all)


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