Why Do Some Breastfeeders Wear a Cover in Public?

Looking annoyed. >:-I Via etsy.com

Why do some mothers nurse under the curtain if the law says we don’t have to? Well, it’s not really anyone’s business why a woman may want to wear a cover, so if you feel a curiosity overtaking you, please know it’s best not to ask. I’ll give you a few hints though, based on my own experience and what I’ve heard.

I’ve heard that nursing bibs/aprons/tents are an “American” thing and that foreigners are baffled by their mere existence. Thus, we could hypothesize the reason for covered breastfeeding is simply the influence of Yankee Doodle, but let’s not jump to conclusions just yet.

Some mothers cover up because they feel afraid, shy, nervous, or ashamed to breastfeed or risking part of their body being subjected to public scrutiny. Still, many mothers reach for the fabric shield for other reasons. A few for starters:

  • Maybe she only covers in the presence of certain company, like a funny uncle…
  • Maybe her baby uses a supplementary nursing device that’s awkward to manipulate without virtually undressing top-to-navel…
  • Maybe she’s still in the awkward phase of figuring out which breastfeeding position she likes best and wants privacy while she practices…
  • Maybe she senses that her baby needs a moment of peace/restriction of cacophony…
  • Maybe the sky is heavy with imminent rain and she forgot her umbrella…
  • Maybe she or her baby has highly sensitive skin and cannot sustain direct sunlight…
  • Maybe she sports a highly regretted tattoo on her cleavage and she’s doing us all a favor…
  • Etc.

All perfectly valid and understandable. However, I’ll be euphoric the day we hear the following reasons for the very last time ever:

“My breasts are only for my partner!”

This makes me sad. Our breasts can be shared with whomever we choose, whether that be our partners, our babies, our doctors, etc. They are not FOR anyone but US. Not even our nurslings. OURS ONLY. We decide what we do with them, how we feel about them, and thus determine the power they hold.

If a breastfeeding mother’s partner insists that she wear a cover for purposes of modesty, said partner could use a crash course on the actual nature and prime function of breasts: they aren’t sexual organs, they’re life-growing/sustaining portals (to another milky dimension, yeah!).

The reason some people feel that breastfeeding is too intimate and, by nature, private to be appropriate in public areas is due to the strong, primal, symbiotic nurturing effect within the dyad. It can be intense to witness at times. Can’t we, as adults, push past this intensity? Can’t we embrace this breastfeeding fascination as enamor with beauty rather than witness of indignity?


Looking sad 😦

“I have enough decency to not just ‘whip it out.'”

What does that even mean, anyway? Does a breast actually make a whipping noise, like a flag on a windy day, when a shirt is pulled over it? Do people who behold the sight of public breastfeeding get whiplash? Is it because breasts don’t actually make milk, but rather whipped cream?! Is that why kids like it so much??


Looking embarrassed. :-/

“I don’t want extra attention, I’m self-conscious!”

If you’re truly looking to be discreet, a nursing cover is probably the last thing you want to use. It screams, in all its loud-paisley-printed glory, “Hey! I’m totally breastfeeding over here!” Which of course makes what you’re doing especially interesting.

The only people who have the right to be bothered by breastfeeding in public are the breastfeeding mother and her baby, if they feel that way. If anyone else feels bothered, they’re entitled to their feelings — but to be bothered is a choice. Move along or don’t, oh eyeful strangers.

Remember, it’s not rude to breastfeed in public. It IS rude for other people to stare. (Wise up: “Every Argument Against NIP Debunked – by Elsinora”).

Take this giant, orange polka-dotted bib. How much attention do you think that gets on accord of its design alone? Now imagine it being held tightly, desperately, over unwieldy contortionism activity that looks and sounds like an annoyed cat caught in a trash bag. Hard to ignore, right?

Looking Photoshopped. 😛 Via woombie.com

I know why I wore a cover for a while (you can read about that in “Coming Out From Under The Covers“). Did you have an experience like mine, or perhaps quite different? If you don’t wear a cover or you’re ready to ditch the cover, check out my next post on how to nurse in public with modesty.