It’s 10:40am- nap time- and today I am babysitting at the kids’ grandparents house, my first time here. I put the little guy in his crib and took my girl in the next room to get her to go down.
The quickest, easiest, and sometimes only way to get her to sleep at the same time as R is to nurse her while walking around. As I’m pacing, singing, and nursing around this unfamiliar guest room, I spot a glorious sight on the wall. A framed print of the preparatory drawing for the Medici Madonna. I’m not the only one breastfeeding in this room!
The statue is located outside of a church in Italy. Then it got me wondering what it was like to nurse in public in a country where there are hundreds of pieces of breastfeeding art on display. Sadly, even Italy is beginning to sexualize breasts (although not quite as bad as it is in the US), according to this interesting blog post.
It also reminded me of this post I read recently about the Bible and breastfeeding. It says the Bible references breasts in relation to nursing twice as often than it does about sexuality. So, while yes, breasts can be sexual, let’s not forget their primary and most important function- feeding a child.
There are situations where I am more comfortable using a cover or going somewhere privately. Most of the time I don’t. And really it isn’t because I’m on a crusade to show the world I’m nursing- it’s more like its 90 degrees out, my baby needs to eat, she has refused to let me use a cover since 6 months old, and I’m not traipsing off the beach to waste my gas turning the air on, sitting in the car to nurse because someone might look at me funny. It’s a mother’s choice. If a mom is comfortable to nurse without one, that’s her right.
What disappoints me most is that other young women- even mothers- are often the ones giving disapproving looks. If you’re uncomfortable with your kid- boy or girl- seeing a mom breastfeeding, it’s possibly time for some reflection.
When my girl was 8 weeks old I nannied for another family. The 3 year old boy had a little brother and had seen his mom nursing. When I said it was time for her to eat, he smiled and asked, “is she going to drink from your chest?” Hilarious, but more importantly it was normal to him. I know a bunch of moms whose kids have this normalized view of nursing and to them, I give two thumbs up.
I hope that my daughter will grow up to appreciate her healthy body and that one day she will be blessed to carry and nurse a baby, and not measure her worth by her sexuality. Maybe we should all hang a framed print to remind us that breastfeeding truly is a beautiful work of art.