Have you ever been embarrassed? Nervous? Anxious? Of course you have, right? Now, bear with me a bit here…
Have you ever worn a bathing suit, or any article of clothing that was somewhat revealing, and felt a bit… embarrassed? Nervous? Anxious? I truly hope you haven’t, because you’re beautiful just the way you are, however that’s not the soapbox I’m aiming for right now. My gut tells me that several of you probably have. It’s okay, I have too… but bear with me further.
Have you ever been out to eat with friends and suddenly felt funny about what you were eating or the amount you were eating? Maybe you were embarrassed, nervous, or anxious? Again, I hope not, because your body is your own and you are more than entitled… yet again, I’d wager most of us have had a funny feeling of some sort.
I hate these feelings. They’re terrible. I know part of them come from society, but WE are society, so WE need to work on changing that. Still, change doesn’t come easy, but those funny feelings do. None of us should ever feel uncomfortable with what we’re wearing, male or female. It shouldn’t matter what others think, so long as we are physically and mentally comfortable with that clothing. Right? Who cares if you have a large chest, ladies. Fellas, I don’t care about the chest hair or lack thereof. Dimples somewhere other than your face? Just means you’re extra comfy to lean against, if you ask me. Think your legs are too slim or bony? Whatevs! You are wonderful! Your body isn’t “too” anything.
The same with what we eat. Who cares if you want to order a super nacho with a large whatever and extra sour cream on the side (because I would TOTALLY do that right now, if I could). It is your body. I don’t care if you worked out before, after, or if you plan to at all. Your life, your body. Do what you want with it. Your taste buds are no doubt rejoicing and I’m going to rejoice with you, because no matter what anyone thinks, you are entitled to that delicious meal no matter your age, size, ethnicity, or what have you.
Personally, and it’s a personal choice, I feel most comfortable in jeans and a t-shirt, or lounge pants (what I consider pj pants, yoga pants or some equivalent) and a t-shirt. For pool/beach time, I’m most comfortable in either a bikini or a one-piece. Really depends on how well it supports the girls. I also prefer to have a cover up to wear over it when I’m not in the water. That is my comfort zone. Food-wise? I just want it in my belly, if we’re being completely honest. I hardly care how it gets there or what the portion sizes are.
So… what am I getting at?
I need your help with something. I need you, however many of you may be reading this… I need you on my side. I have many of you on my side already, but pretty soon, I may need a few or several more.
See, I’m about to have another baby. I plan on breastfeeding that baby just like I did with her brother. Actually, just like I still do with her brother. He’s almost 3, so we’re mostly down to sleepy times, therefore it isn’t seen by hardly anyone but my husband and mom. However, this new baby will be a brand new little squish. She will come out super hungry and she will come out wanting her mama’s milk not now, but RIGHTNOW.
She won’t come out caring how she gets it. She’ll only care when. She will want her needs met and she’ll want them met immediately. As her mother, I will choose to feed her on demand, meaning she won’t adhere to a schedule I’ve set for her, but rather one she’ll end up setting for herself. I will not pump for her right away. Although, I have ordered a pump through my insurance and it sits in a box in her room, there’s always the chance I may not respond well to the breast pump. If I do, it won’t replace from the breast breastfeeding, but it will be helpful on days I have errands or dates with the husband. Therefore, my goal will be to nurse her straight from the breast as often as necessary.
The thing is, in doing so, I won’t be using a cover. See, I tried to use one with Oliver, because at the time that’s where MY comfort level was. Oliver had other plans. He let me know very quickly that HIS comfort level meant no nursing cover, and no part of my tshirt touching any part of my breast, because he wanted his hand to touch it instead. So there I’d sit, desperately trying to pull my shirt back down on my breast, while my surprisingly strong infant would shove it up to my neck with all his might. THAT was embarrassing. Those situations made me nervous… even anxious. Sometimes I would worry about where I was headed, because I knew if he wanted to nurse, he’d have to have his way.
What if our struggle drew attention? What if someone said something? What if someone made an ugly face? What if someone was ugly TO me? What if someone suggested I go feed him in the bathroom? What if someone suggested I cover myself… even though I was trying to? What if someone said I could feed him later? What if what if what if?
I need you on my side. I need you to be on every nursing mother’s side. Can you please do that for me? For the babies? For the moms? For all of us?
Can you see us and realize that we’re doing our very best? That maybe our baby isn’t hip to the unfair societal expectations and really could not care less about how much mama’s breast is exposed? Maybe they’re like Oliver is/was and are so hot natured that the idea of being covered by ANYTHING is downright revolting. He doesn’t even like being covered with a sheet at bedtime, if that tells you anything. My babies are summer babies. Can you imagine simply sitting underneath a thick sheet for more than 5 minutes in the summer? Really, any time of year. That feeling as the air around you gets thicker from breathing of hot air. After a few minutes you come out from underneath the sheet and the difference in temperature is so immediate that you wonder how you didn’t notice it before.
Babies need to be fed. Some mothers choose to breastfeed their babies. We need your support. A simple smile or a nod of acknowledgement that you’re on our side can work wonders. I cannot explain to you what that boost of confidence feels like when you’re feeling as though you’re a huge bullseye. When we’ve already had people who are topless, in bikinis, low cut shirts, or tight pants giving us dirty looks for having the top of our breast exposed. After some time, I could usually convince Oliver to let me keep my shirt down, so the only part of my breast you’d see was the part you’d have to put your nose against… because you couldn’t see it unless you were that close! I promise you, there have been times where you had no idea someone was nursing. We’ve gotten really good at hiding it.
Let me say that again: We’ve gotten really good at hiding it.
Isn’t that horrible? That we have learned how to hide the fact we’re feeding our children. That we are using our breasts for the reason they were put on our bodies. That the natural act of nourishment is considered so unnatural by a lot of society. It hurts my heart. It hurts my heart for the first time moms and parents who haven’t built a thick skin, and frankly, shouldn’t have to. It hurts my heart for those who gave up so quickly, because they weren’t supported in public or even by family. Because, yes, even family and friends don’t want it done “in their home.” As if we’re taking our tops off and swinging them around our heads.
Do you remember how you felt earlier when reading the top of this post? Those feelings of embarrassment, nervousness, and anxiety for doing very simple, basic, entitled things, like… wearing what you want, exposing however much skin you want, eating what you want, and however much you want? Could you empathize? Have you had those feelings before? If you have… can you please try to relate them to breastfeeding a baby?
How are they different? Choices are involved in every scenario I mentioned. Rights and entitlements were involved in every scenario I mentioned.
There are no differences.
There are no differences.
Let our babies eat. Support me. Support other mamas. Support breastfeeding. Please help me normalize breastfeeding. It is the very best thing for some babies. It is the very best thing for some mamas too (side story at the bottom).
Will you be on OUR side?
(Quick Side Story: Oliver breastfed and was supplemented with formula, which is why I am a firm believer in FED is best. Who cares if it’s formula or breastmilk, just feed all the babies! With that said, I had PPA (postpartum anxiety) horribly bad, as well as PPD (postpartum depression), and nursing Oliver was like a drug for me. It release a hormone called oxytocin in your body, which would feel like a wave of relief and peace anytime I nursed him during those difficult times. So, yes, breastfeeding is definitely beneficial to both. Not to mention the bonding that can occur during nursing time)