Nursing in Public

19 May

Ah, junk mail! I was looking through a catalog for new baby gear and came across a “nursing cover”. It describes the product: “Nurse privately even in public! This stylish nursing cover is contoured and generously sized to fit securely around mom and baby for hands-free nursing coverage” $36.

I’m saddened at the cultural constraints placed on breastfeeding women in the Western world. Breast-feeding without a nursing cover is more comfortable, more intimate, and less expensive. I think one reason we are encouraged to cover our breasts while feeding is that our culture is uncomfortable with the duality of women’s breasts as both sexual body parts and body parts that provide nourishment to our babies.

“There is a good reason why Mother Nature put optimal nutrition and erotic pleasure in the same bodily vehicle: food and pleasure are both related to bonding and both necessary to our well-being. Feeling good about our breasts and both of their functions is an important self-care principle…Women in patriarchal cultures such as our own have inherited the deeply ingrained belief that their worth is determined by how attractive they are to men. Since the female breast is such an obvious symbol of female sexuality and desirability in our culture, women’s breasts are viewed by many as currency of considerable value for buying male attention and support. Given this widespread attitude, it is not surprising that the main reason why women don’t breast-feed their babies, is because they are afraid that breast-feeding will decrease their value in the eyes of their husbands or boyfriends.” – Christiane Northrup, MD

Breast-feeding is Self-care and Child-care Simultaneously.

To breast-feed successfully you need good nutrition, adequate social support, and adequate rest. Breast-feeding offers mothers and their babies the following benefits:

Improves the mother’s health
Promotes a sense of safety and security in the baby
Offers the baby protection from disease
Meets the child’s primal need to suck in the most physiologic and healthy way possible
Promotes optimal facial and jaw development
Promotes optimal breathing
Promotes optimal intelligence
Breast-feeding is neuroprotective

My hope is that our culture, our government, our families, our jobs, our communities, and our health care practitioners do all they can to encourage and support women to breast-feed their little ones at home and in public.

Check out Mother-Daughter Wisdom by Northrup for more details….

2 Responses to “Nursing in Public”

  1. Megan November 28, 2012 at 11:20 PM #

    I agree that nursing in public is wonderful, but not all mothers feel comfortable nursing out in the open, without a blanket or a “hooter hider”. There’s nothing wrong with feeling that way. For these mothers, nursing covers are a blessing, and probably encourage some women to keep nursing. I don’t think it’s a taboo, just a matter of personal comfort.

    • Dr. Naumes November 29, 2012 at 7:05 AM #

      Thanks so much for your thoughts. I was hoping this post would encourage discussion just like this. Warmly…. ~Dr. N.

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