There’s one in every family. That person who gives you the side eye while nursing your baby. Or perhaps makes comments either directly or under their breath. “Maybe you could cover up?” “The spare room is empty.” “I wish you wouldn’t do that here in front of everyone”
These are just a few comments I’ve heard during my almost 3 year nursing journey. The holidays are a prime time to hear these things.
I’m here to tell you why I won’t cover or step into another room.
Let me preface this by saying if you are comfortable taking these suggestions, great! We all have to do what feels right to us. That’s one of the joys of parenting, we each get to do it our own way.
My way is out in the open. Uncovered. And surrounded by whomever happens to be in the room when my child gets hungry.
There are several reasons for this:
1) Breastfeeding is normal. It’s not shameful, sexual, or indecent. It’s not something that needs to be hidden or covered up. It’s food, just like the ham on Aunt Margaret’s plate. I firmly believe that continued exposure is the best way to continue to normalize breastfeeding.
2) I refuse to miss out on family gatherings because my baby is hungry. My 10 month old isn’t going to nurse with a blanket over him so my other option would be the “spare room.” Alone. Away from the party, guests, and socialization. No thank you! I came to the party to enjoy the people, not hide out alone. I have been known to step away if I feel my children are overwhelmed or need some quiet time, but I do it for my kids, not anyone else.
There are some ways I go about this during gatherings to make it more comfortable for everyone involved. I am strong in my belief that nursing in public (or at a gathering) is a great thing to do, but I am also respectful of those around me. I won’t go out of my way to make anyone comfortable but I also don’t go out of my way to make people uncomfortable.
I am discrete. I use the “two shirt” method as well as my Rumina Nursing Bra to make sure I am not too exposed. I am also confident in my actions. I have practiced in front of a mirror several times and you really don’t see much of anything at all. Sometimes babies are silly and someone may get a peek, that’s ok! I just laugh it off and relatch. I think the key to successfully nursing in situations that could be awkward is being flexible and having a sense of humor. If you are at ease, baby (or toddler!) will be at ease, and everyone around you will be at ease.
Remember, the holidays are about family, friends, food, and gathering with the ones who mean the most to you. If your little ones good happens to come from your breast, enjoy the gathering and nurse on mama!