By Heather Woods
I’ve had a relatively easy run when it comes to breastfeeding but to be honest, I was dreading it! I was terrified of having to expose my uh, relatively large lady lumps in public, assuming that it was expected of me in order to be what is deemed a ‘natural’ mother. I’d struggled with the smell of anything dairy during my morning sickness as well, and the thought of smelling like that for the duration I chose to feed gave me another reason to consider formula and bottle feeding. And plus, wouldn’t it hurt?
I’d seen women feeding before and there was rarely a glimpse of skin, let alone nipple. For those of us who are in a race to the biggest cup size, feeding can be challenging. And doing it discreetly is near impossible, there’s usually side boob and nipple flying all over the place! I had no idea how I was ever going to be comfortable trying to cover myself up and have the baby positioned in a way she’d be comfortable to feed properly. It was stressful just thinking about the next feed.
I must have been lucky as it didn’t seem to hurt me though. I’d heard stories of babies who didn’t get the right suction, they seemed to be hungry all the time, mum might have had blocked milk ducts or one of the many other challenges a breastfeeding mum might face that could result in something like really sore, cracked or bleeding nipples. It was only when two little teeth popped through that I got really nervous. We had a few near misses and she learnt not to bite me, but there’s only two. We have the rest of the mouth to go yet!
And as for the smell, I think my heightened senses during pregnancy had me overreacting a little. As long as I was washing my bra’s and nursing tops regularly they seemed to cope, though I will be disposing of them afterwards and buying new attire for baby number two. And combined with a twice daily shower I didn’t really feel like I could smell myself, though I was often conscious if it had been a while since my last shower and I’d fed a few times. But I’m also someone who likes to be really clean, so perhaps I worried about it too much. Who knows?!
So covering up was my main issue. I’d seen nursing covers and researched them online, but I hadn’t purchased one as I felt like a bit of an outsider for even thinking about it. It made me feel really alone and like I was trying to shy away from what is meant to be one of the most natural things in the world. In the privacy of my own home, and in front of my husband I had no concerns whatsoever and it was, in fact, one of those beautiful moments in life. Feeding her was such an intimate time between two of us and we’d just stare at each other, me in awe of her.
It was anytime I needed to feed in public I’d just panic. In the end, I gave in and ordered a cover. It turned up a few days later and changed my breastfeeding world. Full props go to mummies who are comfortable doing their thing anywhere they please. I’m glad you do as it saddens me when I hear stories of women who have been criticized for feeding in public. But for me, having my nursing cover allowed me freedom to venture out and enjoy learning to be a mum, taking care of my baby out in the world, while maintaining my modesty.
Even though I was now comfortable to feed, I still had that feeling of being an outsider and it was out of sheer guilt. I’d end up using the excuse that my baby girl was too distracted and needed to focus in order to feed, when really I just felt bad that I was covering myself up. And you know what? All of this was in my head. I hadn’t had even one negative comment about choosing to use a nursing cover which caused me to feel that much angst. I think it was just a case of ‘that’s what you’re supposed to do’ syndrome.
As she grew she really did get distracted, so it was great that I had the cover when I needed her to concentrate!