Breastfeeding, Motherhood

MEN, do we cover or don’t we?

I am really torn.  I love breastfeeding.  It’s not always easy, but it’s a natural and totally free way I can feed my baby and enjoy lots of cuddling and baby holding before they grow out of it.  Breastfeeding is how God designed for infants to be fed from the very beginning and it’s really pretty cool.  Since I feel as though I am a breastfeeding advocate I tend to read and hear a lot about breastfeeding and breastfeeding controversy.

This post (titled “Boobs”) about breastfeeding controversy I particularly loved.  After reading it I feel all passionate and fired up thinking things like yeah, screw the nursing cover! and I will go breastfeed in public just to breastfeed in public!

But, then I try to imagine myself nursing in the pew at my church, surrounded by seminary students, new Christians, old Christians, men, women and children and I… just… can’t… picture it.  I could maybe see myself nursing in there with the cover on.  But without a cover?  Definitely not.  Thankfully, my church (and many other churches) have designed a private room with cozy chairs and dim lights just for nursing moms.

Then, I ask myself, WHY is this something I just can’t imagine?  Is it my lack of confidence?  Perhaps.  Is it fear of exposure, distraction, or lack of comfort?  Maybe.  All these reasons aside, I can’t get the notion out of my head that MODESTY must come in to play here somehow.

Christians are encouraged to dress modestly because of the importance of the one-flesh union in a marriage; the teaching that the physical pleasures of being human are only supposed to be enjoyed by you and your spouse.  So, to be frank, a woman’s breasts should only be seen and enjoyed by her husband.  Now, those same breasts are feeding infants!  The infants survival is dependent on the nourishment from the mothers body.

This body part is now being used for something very important.  Breasts have more than one purpose.  So, my question is: is it possible to separate the two purposes and require modesty for one and not for the other?  Is this done with any other biologically functional part of the body?  I don’t think so, but feeding babies seems so different from anything else.

I really want to get a discussion going about this.  I especially want to hear from men.  Would it really be that traumatizing to – in the blink of an eye – see a part of another woman’s breast as she brings her baby in to eat?  I think women can be discreet and it doesn’t have to be awkward, especially for the experienced breast-feeder.

Really, I think if our culture wasn’t so overly sexualized and there were 97% less visual temptations for men than there are maybe this issue would look very different.

I want to know what you think (especially the men) because I’m still wrestling with how modesty is integrated into breastfeeding.  I wish that our society was more comfortable with it and I wish that Christian men and woman wouldn’t think twice about it.  However, I think that maybe they do think twice.  So, I am not going to throw out my cover just yet.

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2 thoughts on “MEN, do we cover or don’t we?”

  1. Okay, so on breastfeeding in public:
    One, I think you’re right on with it being a wonderful and natural thing. My wife had a horrible experience with breastfeeding one of ours (mostly on his end we think) and some good/some bad with the others. In any case, when it worked well, it was a beautiful thing.
    Two, I think you’re also right that modesty plays heavily into the discussion. There’s obviously a difference between wearing clothes and not wearing clothes. There’s also a difference between you flashing your breasts and exposing them while nursing a child.
    A question then: In your opinion, is it entirely cumbersome to use a nursing cover? It seems to me that if someone says something to you about nursing in public while using a cover, then you have a fight on your hands. At the same time, if you expose yourself in public, even if nursing a child, that you’re putting yourself in a position for people to question the wisdom of your choice.
    A big question to answer, I think, would be: what is my motive for wanting to do this in public without a cover?
    Frankly, it became less of a big deal to me after we had children and it became a natural part of life. However when I was younger, I worked for a woman who would nurse her children around me regularly. She wasn’t inappropriate about it in any way, but once I had to ask her to clarify something and the baby “popped off” to see who was talking. It’s funny now (sort of), but was extremely awkward at the time.
    So, those are just some thoughts. I would be interested to hear what you think and also to know if there’s a way in which we make it easier or harder for you to nurse. As a summary I’d say I would want to make it as natural and easy for you to nurse publicly while also maintaining a reasonable level of modesty. Open to any pushback.

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