There is a discussion on another blog where a priest is, commendably, trying to craft guidelines for families so they are welcomed and helped. Overall, I found his list very balanced, but suggested he could perhaps state that breastfeeding is welcome. There had been a comment (not from the priest) that breastfeeding should be done in the family room or with a cover, so I replied that I see that as unnecessary, stating that I sit in the front and breastfeed uncovered, but without revealing anything. A different commenter (again, not the priest), has called such behaviour exhibitionist.
So, is breastfeeding with a cover exhibitionist? Obviously I think not. First, there was an assumption on the part of the commenter that breastfeeding uncovered meant I was flashing everyone, when it certainly doesn’t. In fact, nothing is revealed when I breastfeed without a cover. Most would think the child was simply sleeping, unless they know that my babies generally don’t sleep in a cradle hold.
I also have a problem calling it exhibitionist given all the sacred artwork and statuary of the Blessed Virgin Mary breastfeeding quite openly. I can honestly say I’ve never revealed more than this painting,to my knowledge (and probably not even that much, since my nipple isn’t revealed when breastfeeding, and the child is facing me).
Most of all, it isn’t exhibitionist because the vast majority are not seeking attention. We’re just trying to quickly, calmly, discreetly, naturally feed our babies the way God designed us to do. I am not nursing “at” another, but am caring for my baby.
Unfortunately, because our society is bombarded with overtly sexual images, and because breastfeeding rates are rather abysmal, there is this view that breastfeeding is sexual and inappropriate for the public sphere. This is why breastfeeding mums are repeatedly told to cover or go elsewhere, even when nothing is shown. I cannot be angry at the commenter, for her comment simply reveals the state of the culture. I do hope, though, that, as more mums breastfeed in public, covered or not, such attitudes become a thing of the past.
Now, back to feeding my baby when he needs it.