Shortly after coming home from the hospital post-delivery, I had let the dogs out and walked outside with them, just enjoying a few minutes to myself in the sunlight, only to have Josh interrupt my quiet moment to come running out with a shirt in his hands. Oops! I was outside in a pair of running shorts and very flesh-colored bra and hadn't even realized.
What they say is true: labor, delivery, and breastfeeding robs you of your modesty and feeling self-conscious about your varying states of undressed. Doctors, nurses, and midwives preach skin-to-skin during those first three months. You're constantly leaking through your bras and shirts anyways, so why bother even trying to put stuff back on. And then factor in that nursing takes an hour a feeding and you're feeding every two hours? I don't think I wore real clothes for the first six weeks.
The truth is, modesty went out the window the moment your delivery nurse asked you to strip down so they could make certain that your water had really broken. They then sent you home with a tiny human who depended on a part of your body for nourishment that has been shamed and sexualized from sun up to sun down your entire life. What's a modest mama to do?
1.) Own It
You have natural (and legal) right to feed your baby. Do not yourself be bullied or shamed out of doing exactly what your body was made to do! There is nothing dirty, sexual, or inappropriate about what you are doing. Don't let others shame you into feeling like it is.
2.) Be Comfortable
But related to number one, that does not mean you have to feed in a manner or place you do not feel comfortable in. Take as much privacy as you want. It is your body and your time with your kiddo. Don't let the way another mama feeds make you feel like you're doing it wrong. Do what works for you!
3.) Dress Mindfully
Button-down shirts, tanks or camisoles underneath, scarves, and cardigans are all great ways to dress so that you are prepared to nurse. That gorgeous sweater dress you bought pre-pregnancy? Save it for a night without baby. Dress with nursing in mind and the entire process will much less stressful.
4.) Don't Be Afraid to Ask
Eating out? Don't be afraid to politely ask the hostess if there is a more secluded corner booth so you'll be more comfortable if you need to feed. Out and about for the day? Libraries and other public spaces often have private, quiet spaces that you can feed in out of sight and at ease if you just ask.
5.) Be Kind
The honest truth is, those eyes you see glancing your direction are more likely to be compassionate than judgmental. Be kind to yourself and others in your thoughts. You may feel like you're the only hot-mess-mama out there, but that could not be further from the truth! You are far from alone.
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If you want to read more about my mama experiences, you can read about my pregnancy and delivery here or my kiddo's recent update here!