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  • Writer's pictureLiz Thomas

Mama, you don’t have to cover up

When you start nursing it can be all-consuming.

In the beginning, changing out of your nightshirt seems utterly pointless (and frankly it is) and taking a shower seems like the stuff of luxury holidays.

But despite what the celeb mums with their behind-the-scenes style teams might make you think, new mothers aren’t meant to be Instagram ready.

Those early days are a whirl of engorgement, surprise letdowns,  and chafed, sore, bloody nipples. We aren’t thinking about our wardrobes beyond – what’s comfortable, functional, and washable, while the season’s key accessories are breast pads, collection cups and endless tubes of Lanolin.

But there is a point that things get easier:

The stress of latching and positioning becomes second nature and you’ll emerge from the house ready to face the world.

A little later there’s another point where nursing weaves seamlessly into your personal style, although high necks are out until you wean really.

Whether it’s bohemian or rockabilly, earth mother or goth. You wear what you want to wear and style yourself how you want to look.

And why shouldn’t you? Yes, you’re a nursing mother – but you are also many, many, other things!

It’s usually at this point when you’ve just found your confidence and are starting to feel some semblance of yourself again that society’s misogyny toward nursing mothers reaches a crescendo.

We know breastfeeding mothers often get a hard time for nursing in public, but the tide is turning.

More and more people accept that soothing your baby while out and about is normal.

Yet there’s still a caveat – you have to do in within the confines of their expectations. Dare to breastfeed in public dressed in an ‘unmotherly’ style and it is catastrophic.

Suddenly you’ll hear there ‘buts’…  you know the clause people add to their official statement that really gives away who they are and what they think deep down (You know the how it goes… I’m not a racist but; I’m not homophobic but...)

I fully support breastfeeding, but….

If you hear that line, you’ll know that the undercurrent of misogyny is still there beneath the veneer of tolerance:

I fully support breastfeeding, but… it should be done modestly

I fully support breastfeeding, but… if you dress like that it is just to get attention

I fully support breastfeeding, but…. people like you give it a bad name

But here’s the thing: Whether you opt for full gowns and vampy lips or bikini tops and short shorts, your style is your style and that should have nothing to do with how acceptable it is that you’re breastfeeding.

The idea that if you nurse while looking the least bit attractive, edgy, or unmumsy equalling a cry for attention, or an attempt to lure husbands away, is laughable and yet so many still subscribe to it.

Whatever you wear, wherever you are, this simple fact remains: you are nourishing a baby that needs it.

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