Why I Don’t Cover Up, But Not For the Reasons You Think

Posted 06-24-2014 at 08:30 AM by toneylarson


I’m religious. I was raised to be modest. I would get angry when my friends would jokingly pull up my sleeve to show off my shoulders. So you’d think I would be adamant about covering up when I nurse my babies. And I guess I used to be.

When I first started nursing, I had the fancy bras and about three blankets to make sure every angle of my body was covered. My husband would be on one side and the baby’s feet sticking out the other, if she kicked enough. This would mostly happen in church since I was a homemaker. So you can imagine me trying to listen to the service while worrying that I was exposing a sacred part of myself to the entire congregation. Those days are long passed.

Now, the people around me would be lucky if I covered up. Not because I believe that women should be allowed to be free. Not because it’s just a body part and people should get over it. It’s because I’m done. I’m done worrying over whether or not I can feed my kid. I’m done carrying three blankets, making sure I packed my wrap, causing a scene whenever I try to cover up. I’m tired of sweaty, red baby face and struggling to keep a cover on when they’re kicking and pulling at it because they’re uncomfortable. I quickly found that if I just slipped my shirt up or down and let the baby latch, no one would ever know. Whereas, if I put in all the effort to get the modesty brigade out, the baby wouldn’t get fed soon enough and would start freaking out and all eyes would be on me. And stay on me through my attempts to keep them under.

I’ve actually surprised many people who thought I was just holding a sleeping baby, only to realize that I was doing a little more than that. I’ve been complimented on my discretion, saying they never know when I’m nursing because it’s so natural looking. Isn’t that how it’s supposed to be? It doesn’t have to be a traumatic, in-your-face activity. It doesn’t have to be a secret, three blankets deep, two rooms away activity. It really can be a right under your nose and you would never know activity. And I like that. It’s almost a challenge!

Do I want people to see me? No. Do I care if they do? Not anymore. Somewhere down the road, I lost my sense of “modesty” when it comes to my babies. Maybe it’s the way women have to get completely naked for any doctor. Maybe it’s because we have hands and fingers shoved into uncomfortable and frankly painful places. Maybe it’s being strapped to a bed and told I can’t make a decision about how I want to birth my baby because some doctor wants to go home. Maybe I just got tired of the judging eyes when I tried so hard to be modest. But somewhere along the way, I changed my mind. Do I think my feeding this way will hurt anyone? No. I’m not jumping up and down and shouting to the world that my boob is out if you happen to watch long enough to catch it. Do I think kids will be affected negatively? No. Most kids don’t even register what’s going on and it’s only “bad” if someone tells them it is.

I am all about being modest, but nursing isn’t about modesty. I’m not saying take off your whole shirt in a public meeting. But I am saying if my baby needs to eat, I am going to lift that shirt enough for them to latch. And I’m going to be discreet about it. And if you happen to get an eyeful because you turned your head at the wrong moment and it made you uncomfortable – oops. That was not my intent. But as my husband can attest, we’ve seen many a boob just sitting in church because we happened to be near someone who, frankly, was a lot more open than me. And we laugh because they didn’t mean for that to happen, but at least that baby is happy. Our marriage isn’t ruined, our lives aren’t turned upside down, we are not offended. That’s just a part of life – a beautiful part.

Filed Under: General


9 Responses to “Why I Don’t Cover Up, But Not For the Reasons You Think”

  1. lalalaurenx0 on June 24th, 2014 10:05 am

    This an amazing article. I’m so glad it was posted. One of the reasons I stopped breastfeeding my son when he was only 4 weeks old was because of my husband’s family’s reaction to it. My mother in law would come up to me while I was feeding my son and cover me and the baby up with a blanket even if it was only the two of us and the baby in the room. They insisted that I must have a bottle every time we were over to visit. I hate to think that there are so many people who think that breastfeeding needs to be covered up and hidden. It doesn’t help mother or baby do what they need to do.

  2. Amissa on June 24th, 2014 11:39 am

    It is a beautiful part!

  3. mamateachpeace on June 24th, 2014 8:34 pm

    Love this! Thank you for sharing!

  4. julialdrich on June 25th, 2014 10:01 am

    This is an amazing article and EXACTLY how I feel!

  5. Avonleas Mom on June 25th, 2014 11:34 am

    It is as if I wrote this article myself! Thank you for sharing your experiences! I hope other mamas and daddies find this take towards nursing in public as freeing as my husband and I did.

  6. billbuckly on June 26th, 2014 4:45 am

    Very well written!

  7. Brimaphi on June 29th, 2014 11:35 am

    Interesting article. When DD2 was born I had a terrible time in the beginning trying to be modest, but still keep me and baby comfortable during feedings. Some time in the first few months I ended up buying a really light weight fabric with smal embroidered holes all over it (enough for some airflow, but now enough to expose), and made a poncho to give me 360 degrees of cover. Even with a nursing bra, nursing cami, and tshirt over both, with my cup size, it’s increadibly stressful to try and nurse in public without my cover and not have it become PAINFULLY obvious what’s going on, or get the entire side exposed (my kids are very fidgetty eaters). Hi5 to you moms who can do it though, you’re so lucky!

  8. toneylarson on July 17th, 2014 2:18 pm

    I’m actually a 32H, which is pretty busty, I think. Its busty enough I have to go to specialty shops to find a bra that fits.

  9. panda2mom on July 25th, 2014 8:06 pm

    With my first, I was very stressed out nursing in public when he was an infant. As he got better at latching, I got a lot more relaxed and only used a cover in tight quarters, such as an airplane. Even then, I just used a lightweight scarf as a screen, not over his head.

    With my DD (1 month old) I don’t even care any more. Fortunately I’ve never had anyone say anything or even give me the stink eye (that I’ve noticed), unlike a lot of stories I’ve heard. I have had several people say supportive things (like the older guy I sat next to when traveling alone with my son).

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