A couple of weeks ago I was sitting in a dentist office waiting room with my mom and two kids. Smiley was hungry, so I fed him. I did not have one inch of skin showing, but a woman sitting next to us asked me if I had a blanket or anything to cover up with because her son (who was sitting next to her watching TV) was a teenager. Now believe me, I had a list of wonderfully snarky comments to say to her:
"Well I guess by now he should know what they're for."
"Sure. Here's the blanket. You can cover his head up with it if you like"
And so on. But I didn't say any of them. I simply said, "No."
I think that "No" is one of the most powerful words there is, and it is enough. There is no reason for me to make a snarky comment, no need to explain myself, and ABSOLUTELY no need for me to cover up. "No" is full of grace, but got my point across powerfully.
Am I sometimes uncomfortable nursing in public? Yes. But for every time I do it, I pray that another young mother sees me and gets the courage to do so as well. Or a not-yet-mama sees breastfeeding as beautiful. Or a child sees that it is normal. I hope that someone is encouraged by me.
It makes me sad that people think a nursing baby should be covered up. If I had been feeding him a bottle no one would be offended. But I refuse to give up what is best for my baby because of someone else's discomfort.
I will continue to nurse in public uncovered, and if you are a breastfeeding mama reading this I want to encourage you to do so as well. You make a difference toward making people more comfortable with nursing, toward normalizing it. If you personally do not nurse, make it easy on other mamas. Smile at them. Talk to them about their babies if they seem open to it. Just please do not ask them to cover up. Every step we take toward normalizing nursing encourages it in mamas who have not yet decided to nurse.