Without a Cover

Posted 02-29-2012 at 12:02 PM by HollyRay

Breast vs. Bottle, a classic debate, but I’m not going to venture down that road, because frankly I think every mom chooses based on the information she has and I leave it at that. Let’s say you are pro-breasfeeding, are you then pro-public breastfeeding?

Perhaps it is just me, but the cover vs. no cover issue seems to be getting pretty heated, and it has left me baffled. I have recently returned from a 3 year stay in England, so I may be particularly susceptible to noticing things out of my norm, but my boobs have gotten more looks in the past two weeks from women then they ever have gotten from men. I nurse in public, without a cover, all the time. I promise you I’m not trying to make a statement, I just find it easier, I have big hooters and squirmy kids, battling with a cover is just not on the top of my to do list. Furthermore, trying to quiet a hungry baby until I can find a hiding place just seems like more work than I want to do with two older kids, plus if I find a hiding spot that means I have to stop what I’m doing.

While in England people would actually not notice me nursing, we would talk and they would eventually look down at the baby and notice, but it was never a blurp in the conversation, it just seemed viewed as a fact of life. I was breastfeeding my baby with no super-ninja like clothing, so side boob, top boob, and basically any boob not in baby’s mouth was going to be seen, depending on the shirt I was wearing. The point is I never once felt looked down upon, or uncomfortable for feeding my child.

When I landed in Atlanta, GA after nearly 24 hours of being on my feet traveling I had 3 screaming children, 11 checked bags, 4 carry-ons, and a rabbit to attend to. I was lucky I was holding it together, no one (and I mean NO one) had gotten more then 2 hours sleep, my husband and I had only gotten 3 hours sleep in the past 48 hours, and I was one hot mess of a woman. I was expecting some looks due to the screaming and the lack of any care for my appearance, but I didn’t get them, or at least they weren’t as noticeable as the scathing looks I got when, while sitting against a wall surrounded by my luggage, I pulled down the top left side of my shirt and put the youngest screaming child to my breast. As one couple walked by a woman turned to her husband and said “You would think she would have the decency to cover up, she must be foreign” her husband couldn’t figure out who and what his wife was talking about, which means the woman noticed me but not the man. A few other women traveling together pointed at me and had a rather lengthy conversation while retrieving their luggage, one woman stopped and stared at me, I just kind of looked blankly back at her, as she walked away she told her lady friends that I “hadn’t got the hint, and didn’t cover up.”

Since leaving Atlanta and heading to my new home, things haven’t changed. While walking through the commissary one woman said, rather loudly, “What does she think she is doing? I can tell she has her nip in that baby’s mouth” I kind of thought to myself “where else would it be?” but decided to refrain from speaking. In more then one store I have been “offered” a room to nurse in, but it sure hasn’t felt like the nicest offer. I didn’t realize feeding a child without a cover was such a modesty issue, even when someone hasn’t realized I was nursing until a few minutes into a conversation the “modesty” issue has been brought up. One woman said, “You do know they carry these covers for nursing don’t you? It’s more modest and civilized that way.”

When did it become uncivilized to breastfeed? Why are only women noticing me? The men around really don’t seem to care, which speaks volumes to this debate. Women bringing women down, so much unnecessary, negative energy due to opinions. I have no desire to wear a boobie blinder, I often find myself needing to hold my “extra” boob area down and away from my child’s nose, and every one of them has hated having anything up by their face while nursing. I’m sure other women hate covers, just as I am sure other women love them, my thought is whatever makes mom and baby happiest, why cause more stress to a mother with an infant? I’m sure I will soon ignore the looks and heated words while I am nursing publicly, until then I will just wonder why so much debate is needing over nourishing a child.

Filed Under: General


36 Responses to “Without a Cover”

  1. Lrriggs on February 29th, 2012 12:52 pm

    You go girl! I’m amazed at the people that are offended at breastfeeding. To me it’s the most natural and wonderful thing I can do for my baby. Its gotta be better than something made in a factory!

  2. mamIIboys on February 29th, 2012 1:40 pm

    I love this article! I HATE covering up but will when out with DH or for immediate family that is uncomfortable. I don’t cover up when out with just my children. You’re right that it’s women that notice way more often then men. It’s also women that are rude about it, men either just go on about their business or ignore it like they would if they had spotted someone’s zipper down. . . Lol

  3. shouldbedoinglaundry on February 29th, 2012 1:40 pm

    I find it amazing that people can be offended by nursing without a cover, but women who are scantily-clad and showing a lot of skin (read: boobs) don’t get treated the way you do.

  4. hazelpiesmom on February 29th, 2012 2:55 pm

    Love this… I do use a cover when were out because I get self conscious feeling like everyone is staring… Maybe if people weren’t staring I wouldn’t feel the need to use one. They are a pain in the butt :( Why does such a natural thing get so much attention?

  5. jennyrebecca2 on February 29th, 2012 3:38 pm

    I think the response comes from people who themselves would feel uncomfortable themselves if they were nursing uncovered in public. I think that we as women have a tendency to “project” our own feelings on other people. IE: “I would never feel comfortable being ‘exposed’ like that, so everyone else does or should feel the same.” Its human nature. I’m not saying it is okay for people to act this way, just maybe trying to come up with an explanation. I prefer to use a cover. I have always been a very self-conscious and private person so I even feel uncomfortable nursing in public WITH a cover. BUT, I have several friends who nurse without a cover and it doesn’t particularly bother me because I’ve gotten used to it.

  6. Laundry Lady on February 29th, 2012 3:54 pm

    Personally, I don’t use a cover, but I love my nursing tanks because they keep my post partum belly covered. In the beginning when I was first learning to nurse I was more self-concious but after a while I didn’t care. It is definitely a cultural thing. My African friends don’t even attempt to cover up and show way more than I would be comfortable with. Though I do find the American attitude towards open nursing ironic. I would expect that from a more traditionally modest society. But it makes little sense when modesty is almost completely out of fab anyway.

  7. sofiamama on February 29th, 2012 5:11 pm

    I get dirty looks even using a nursing cover! which I hate using also. Its hot and uncomfortable. I do wish people including my dh would accept that there is no modesty issue with feeding my baby, Its the most important and natural thing I can do. Also, it makes no sense to make a small child wait for their food while you get your cover, does anyone make you wait when your hungry? no. hmph

  8. Havah on February 29th, 2012 5:28 pm

    We need a “like” button! :)

  9. nahrie on February 29th, 2012 6:05 pm

    I feel much the same. I have never received nasty comments or staring from men, but you can bet I’ve gotten them from women. It hurts my head. Why do people get so mean? Would they rather listen to a child screaming bloody murder? Idiocy, I say.

  10. photocat on February 29th, 2012 6:18 pm

    Oh my! Here in Australia I have never ever seen anyone breastfeeding while using a cover. Plenty of boob feeding going on though and it would be a rare person that would dare say anything negative. We even had a newborn b/fed in a parliament session once, one of the politicians was a new mother. I do dress with breast feeding in mind, but only because both my babies were winter babes and who wants to show off their pp belly and freeze at the same time?!

    But yeah, the b/feeding in public phobia is just weird.

  11. MBRA518 on February 29th, 2012 6:29 pm

    Agreed and as your kid gets older the ‘looks’ get longer. I used a cover at first, I think many moms do – but by 2 -3 months and some crunchy Mommy friends later or so I just didn’t care anymore (actually has a pro BF store owner tell me to take that silly thing off lol)… if you don’t cover your bottle why should I cover my breast? I BF until my DD was 2 – by that point public nursing wasn’t a usually occurrence as she wasn’t nursing that often anymore… but the looks you got when we did LOL. I often didn’t even notice the looks (DH did) because i honestly didn’t care – I usually just wore a shift that I could pull down so I really wasn’t trying to hide anything… I figure if you don’t want to see don’t look. I too found men didn’t notice much… even teenagers didn’t – it was women. I’m in Canada though and I think people are just much less likely to say or even give you a good stare – so most of the time it was just someone noticing and looking away all embarrassed. mehhh not my problem. Women being topless in public is actually legally ok here (Ontario) – I’ve never seen it done outside the Pride parade, but it’s legal LOL.

    What I loved was the older ladies (who you’d think would be more on the modesty thing) that just came right up looked right at the BFing baby and say thing like – ‘that’s so lovely – what a beautiful baby’ :-D those made my day. When we were in Scotland I don’t think I ever got a second glance.

  12. angelarose on February 29th, 2012 6:40 pm

    I never cover up, I live in se tx and it is usually stifling hot, extra fabric is to be avoided. Only a few people have said anything to me and they all knew me personally and were posing it as a question. No one really notices for the most part, my hooves are small so that may be the reason.

  13. sirgradypants on February 29th, 2012 7:43 pm

    you go girl is right! Ignorant people need be ignored – you are doing a wonderful thing for your baby and it should not be covered. I don’t cover my head when I eat! Why should my baby? :) And you are right – I usually get more looks from women than men!

  14. justineybean on February 29th, 2012 7:44 pm

    I also nurse coverless. I have never had anyone say anything negative to me or stare (other than this older lady in my knitting group who thinks my baby is going to suffocate because she likes to pull my shirt over her eyes while she eyes :giggle:). I feel like I am quite skilled at being discrete and I agree that it is annoying to fiddle with a cover, and it is one more thing to do when my baby is desperate to be fed! Enjoyed your article. :)

  15. Leanbh on February 29th, 2012 8:22 pm

    Baby #4 here and I BF until about 12-18 months with each. So obviously I have nursed in public as it is a necessity if you want to have a life. However I do personally prefer to have a light blanket to use as a cover, personal fave are the aden and anais muslin type light blankets. I found an actual nursing cover to be cumbersome. For me I don’t have a problem with a bit of boob showing, but my kids always seem to unlatch at the most unconvient times and it’s not boob that’s shown but full nipple. I have zero problem with someone not using a blanket/cover. I think it’s the same as some women feel comfortable with short skirts/tops others don’t. And maybe the men do notice but don’t want to “go there” esp with wives in tow, he-he…..

  16. emp1217 on February 29th, 2012 9:02 pm

    Amen sister! My first refused to cover up with anything and I always felt so befuddled trying to juggle the baby, my boob, and keep the cover on that I decided it wasn’t worth it. I learned to nurse coverless and be discrete. Besides, I think the covers just draw attention to everything. I told my hubby to get over it (although to be fair he is really supportive!!) and I feed the baby whenever and wherever she needs to eat. I’ve never gotten any negative feedback except from my FIL who is terrified he might accidentally see my boob lol.

  17. LaniMommy187 on February 29th, 2012 9:20 pm

    I too have the jumbo boobies (were talking GG hear) and I couldn’t talk my DD into letting me nurse with a cover if my life depended on it! So I figure it’s a REALY good thing that any sence of modisty I still had by my freshman year of High School was crushed out of me by marching band (lets all change into our uniforms on the bus co ed! That was a hoot when my MOM found out she flipped but the season was half over by then LOL) and Theater ;) before christmas that year I could have struted nude through times square and not given a rat’s behind (well as long as I had shoes I hear the streets are kinda grose ;) ) I have recieved SEVERAL supper RUDE and scathing remarks from other weomen and one littl old man who for some reason just didn’t understand why I didn’t do that in the bathroom. . . so I nicely asked him if HE would eat in a public restroom. He seemed to get my point after that ;) Though I think I scared the tar out of the last person who was rude to me about it. When after she tryed to tell me I couldn’t do THAT in public I quoted the law and said if she said one more word I was going to no only demand to see her supervisor but would press charges for trying to hinder my feeding of my child. (In DC they have made a HUGE deal about it being TOTALY LEGAL around this time ;) LOL) Oh and when she decided to get REALY NASTY with me about it . . . I made good on my word. She was fired on the spot, and also ticketed by the cops :D I have no guilt or shame over it eather. But I will bet you she will NEVER say another derogatory word to another nursing mother again as long as she lives after that.

  18. naturalj76 on February 29th, 2012 9:57 pm

    I am glad you and anyone else who ecounters objections, verbal or not, continue to nurse in public. I actual had just as much of the eww reactions from family, it felt really awful even to be at someone’s house and still get that. It’s worse when the younger girls are present. I don’t understand why it is okay and accepted for them to see so much inappropriate stuff and skin on tv,etc. but then the breast becomes disgusting when someone is doing the most natural thing in the world?

  19. karstensmama on February 29th, 2012 11:04 pm

    I also live in southeast TX and nurse coverless. I’ve gotten a few glares and a few comments like, “Oh! The baby is eating!” (said with a huge smile). The glares were from older WOMEN and the comments from older MEN. I’ve also had numerous people converse with me and never once look at my chest.

  20. redhairboy on March 1st, 2012 2:00 am

    Way to go mama! I loved reading your story.

  21. JadeScarlet on March 1st, 2012 6:23 am

    I’m also an American living abroad, and I travel back and forth between many countries. I’ve never had a problem nursing in public anywhere so far, but I’ve read about so many, and most are from my friends in the US. Of course I’m usually staring at my baby, so if people were giving me odd or disapproving looks I wouldn’t have noticed them. Sometimes I use a cover, but I often forget to put the cover in the diaper bag so I’m used to nursing without more often than with.

  22. pix1114 on March 1st, 2012 6:31 am

    When I started nursing, I had a cover. It seemed to attract more attention than anything. As I got more comfortable I just pulled out the boob anywhere. I got a few looks, and really a “friend” was the only one that ever actually said something to me. Actually when my husband’s friends were over my hubby said something about how some people think it is indecent to breastfeed in public and his friends made the comment about how stupid that was, that when Mason nursed you didn’t see anything.

  23. MeCo7707 on March 1st, 2012 6:31 am

    Wow – what a response! Thanks ladies :)

  24. Marion on March 1st, 2012 7:11 am

    I HATE covers. They are hot and my kids spend more time trying to rip them off then nursing when I’ve tried to use them in the past. Now I just whip out my boob when the baby is hungry find a place to sit down and nurse away. I’ve had some strange looks but I’ve yet to have anyone say anything to me about it. I have used nursing rooms at times but that’s more to keep the big kids from wandering off to far! I remember when DD was a babe we were over in Detroit and I had her in the wrap nursing a way. I had an older gentleman come up to me and comment how he hadn’t seen anyone wearing a baby like I was since he had been over in Vietnam. I’m not even sure he realized she was nursing!

  25. bandksmommy on March 1st, 2012 8:23 am

    I wish this wasn’t such an issue. Personally, I cover. I have ALWAYS covered. I’m small chested but there is still nip showing when my child is latched on (and I have successfully breastfed 2, currently nursing my 17 month old, so this is not an issue), plus both of my kids are (and were from a young age) very nosy so there are lots of pull off moments. So for MY comfort I prefer to cover as long as the baby is comfortable. But that’s my personal choice. I don’t think I’ve EVER seen a breastfeeding mom in public where I could actually see ANYTHING besides the back of a baby’s head. WHY do people care that much? Most people are atleast discrete about it. I’m sure there are women who whip it out and then actually put their kid to the breast 5 minutes later (all the while hanging free) but I’ve never seen it. And IMO I’d much rather see the possible top of a breast (which we see all the time anyway when women are fully clothed) than a thong butt crack (or any buttcrack for that matter). But no one makes an issue of THOSE women! :-b

  26. DaisyDiaper728 on March 1st, 2012 8:57 am

    First of all, Hugs Mama! I’ve seen lots of moms NIP coverless and it wasn’t in the least immodest IMO.
    I do cover, because my husband wants me to, and to be submissive to him and respectful of his authority, I comply. Though there have been times where I just go somewhere that no one else is around and nurse coverless b/c my 11 month old is getting less tolerant of it. I’ve never had an ugly look or comment, but it may be because I just don’t pay attention to other people. :)
    I just want to say, though, that I *have* gotten negative feedback and have been made to feel like I’m doing something shameful because I cover, from other Mamas who don’t cover. I think it is a personal choice and no one should think their way of doing it is superior. We are all doing what is best for our babies. :)

  27. twood80 on March 1st, 2012 9:04 am

    I admit I’d probably be one of the ones unintentionally staring, but not to be rude – I’d be trying to learn how you are nursing relatively discretely uncovered. I NIP (with a cover) all the time, but either nobody else around here NIP or I am not in the right place at the right time, and I don’t have friends with babies to ask for advice. So please don’t think that a woman staring at you is necessarily thinking mean thoughts, she might be looking for a role model!

  28. SheenaBee on March 1st, 2012 9:17 am

    I completely understand your perspective and respect your right to nurse openly. I personally use a cover and have more modesty with it. I think it’s a culture thing. As you stated, this isn’t England. The US is a much more modest and censored society. Regardless of people’s opinions on it, it is what it is. I think men are less opinionated on it b/c they are less likely to notice (which is true of anything- they’re not very observant) and they could care less if they see a little flash of flesh. And I think the earlier comment about women projecting their own feelings of uncomfort or modesty is spot on. You certainly are allowed to do as you feel, but just as you are free to nurse openly, unfortunately other people are free to comment or judge. Kinda like posting things on the internet… if you don’t want it subject to public opininon, don’t put it out in the public domain.

  29. amb2j on March 1st, 2012 9:49 am

    I respect your bravery in facing those unforgiving comments! I, too, nurse in public without a cover and aggree that nothing stinks more than women being unsupportive of each other’s choices in doing what they deem best for their children.
    So, kudos to you for standing up for yourself and women alike.

  30. my5sons on March 1st, 2012 12:03 pm

    While I myself prefer to NIP with a cover or light blanket, it truly does amaze me that anyone would have the nerve to make a stink about a breastfeeding mom. Why is a mom feeding her child expected to cover every square inch of flesh so that, heaven forbid, no one is offended, yet if you turn on the TV or walk doen the street, you can’t help but be bombarded by all the indecency. Women walk around in public all the time with their boobs and butts hanging out! TV ads are so filled with sexual images and half-naked women it’s disgusting. We’re a modest society? Since when??? Tell that to the booming porn industry! It makes no sense whatsoever to me. For me, it’s a modesty and comfort issue, which is why I try to be discreet when I NIP, but I am totally supportive of ALL women being able to NIP, however they choose to do it. It’s not about displaying breasts, it’s about feeding babies! People need to get a clue!! To the women out there who make the nasty comments…what are you worried about? Are you worried that your husband and children might see some flesh? Then stay in your homes, cancel your cable TV…go picket Victoria’s Secret, Budweiser, etc. And heaven forbid don’t go to the beach or anywhere warm! You are guaranteed to see a LOT more flesh just turning on your TV then by glancing at a breastfeeding mom. UGH…people need to grow up and put their energy into things other than bashing nursing moms!!!

  31. avon712 on March 1st, 2012 1:44 pm

    I tried a cover several times and hated it. Too much hassle when you are trying to unclip your bra, get baby situated, etc. Plus I actually feel like it draws more attention to you because it screams: “Caution, I’m about to breastfeed!” It makes it seem like more of an ordeal than it is, especially if baby only needs a quick “pick-me-up.”

    I always pull my shirt up though, instead of down, just out of respect for local customs. We are stationed in Georgia now, but getting ready to move to Germany, and I am really looking forward to the “freer and more open” attitude. It’s so much easier to pull my tank top down to nurse.

  32. hannah@clothnook on March 1st, 2012 8:28 pm

    Great article! I’m right there with you. Both my little ones have not tolerated a cover. Luckily I’ve never had any comments about it. Most people have been nice, but if anyone ever comments…Mama Bear will not be happy.

  33. 2DaneMama on March 2nd, 2012 3:32 am

    I find it ironic that I’m more inclined to use a cover around friends and family than when I’m out in public around strangers–shopping, at the park, etc. I haven’t gotten any unpleasant comments, but I live in a pretty crunchy area. With friends/family, though, many of them don’t have or want children, and don’t really understand the whole concept….they seem to think my 3 mo. old should be eating solids already or something. It’s sad that our society is so distorted that it sees feeding one’s infant as an indecent act.

    I was shopping with my mom recently and had DD in a mei-tai. She started screaming, so I adjusted a bit and let her nurse. She stopped crying so suddenly that my mom asked if I’d given her a pacifier. “Of sorts,” I replied. My own mother…who EBF’d 3 girls…was shocked. It was crazy to me because I don’t think anyone in the store noticed that DD was nursing (though several probably noticed that the obnoxious screaming went away), but she was still horrified that I was nursing her “out there” in public.

  34. patooty on March 2nd, 2012 7:33 am

    the worse comment i got was from a doula in the community when i nursed at her garage sale. i would not want her as a doula.

  35. jemilyon on March 2nd, 2012 10:20 am

    I like the comparison you made between the US and England. I once read a story about an American man who got lost in an Iranian hospital and accidentally entered a room full of new nursing mothers. Every one of them reached to covered their faces and not their breasts.
    I personally do like using a cover but I have no problem with women who don’t. I’ve never had any issues with babies not liking the, though.
    I agree that it’s ridiculous that young women can be walking around with everything but their nipples hanging out and no one says a word about THAT!

  36. dagmomma on March 3rd, 2012 9:14 am

    This is great!!! Not to mention you are my mom hero!!!!!

    I find a cover draws more attention.

    I do however put my lo in the ergo when I nurse. Otherwise I go in a corner somewhere. Not bc I am afraid of what others think but just bc I do not want to flash anyone. Before my 3 kiddos I was a an A teedering on a B cup. Well now I am a D cup so I personally am dealing with the extra package in a love hate relationship. Plus even when I am not nursing I get stares so can not imagine what it would be like if I was nursing.

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