Welcome to another Fashion Friday, Haute Mamas! Today’s theme, drum roll please, is …. BOOBS! There, we said it. Boob. Oops, and again. They just keep slipping out.
Ahem. In a bid to raise this discussion out of the realms of a Carry On film, let’s get back to the subject in hand. Boobs, and more specifically, breastfeeding. Not exactly a fashion statement, but not far off. If there’s one subject guaranteed to divide worldwide Moms it’s breastfeeding. One minute we’re all making like Cyndi Lauper and belting out Girls Just Wanna Have Fun together, the next someone inadvertently draws an invisible line and makes us feel that we have to choose which side to stand in the Breast v Bottle Debate, and it’s all hair-pulling, name-calling and scratching. Silly, really, since we’re all Mom with children whose lives depend on us, so you’d think we’d act a little more like grown-ups.
But we’re not even referring to the age-old nappy-bags-at-dawn Breast v Bottle debate, although both sides of that issue deserve a post all of their own. But not today. No, we’re talking about getting your boobs out in public. Right or wrong? (Er, please restrict your comment to boob-baring in the context of feeding babies. What you get up to on date night is up to you.)
It’s an age-old issue too, isn’t? Barely a few months go by without a story hitting the media along the vague lines that a Mom has been merrily breastfeeding her child in public, only to have ended up on the receiving end of a withering look or a mouthful of abuse… and wasn’t there even a story once about some guy pouring a bucket of water all over a breastfeeding Mom? I was afraid to look that one up in Google so you’ll just have to take my word for it.
So where to start? Well, breastfeeding isn’t easy, as our very own Head Haute Mama can testify. She had these illuminating words to share on the subject – in fact we had to remind her to pause for air – but if you’re yet to attempt to keep another human being alive entirely through virtue of your nipples, you might want to skip this bit and come back to it when it’s less likely to put you off…
“When I was first getting to grips with breastfeeding there was only one helpful thing anyone could have said that I hadn’t already heard. It was this: ‘I have access to morphine. What’s your address?’ I was willing to try anything. I detested breastfeeding and yet felt entirely pressured to endure the excruciating pain and persevere with it. After 6 weeks we were told to see a lactation consultant. It actually kind of worked but at that stage I think I had become immune to the searing pain. As we walked away from the doctor’s office Haute Dada said to me, ‘I can’t believe we’ve just paid 450 bucks to teach our kid how to suck.’”
Whatever your views on breasfteeding, and whether you share Fiona’s eye-watering experience or not, manipulating your post-partum Jordan-esque boobs into your baby’s tiny ravenous gaping mouth has to be one of the most ridiculous experiences of early motherhood. Like childbirth itself, it’s as though someone got their geometry all wrong when working out what could fit where, and how. It seems like breastfeeding should be easy, but it’s not, which must be partly why so many Moms end up feeling like abject failures if they reach for the bottle. Er, the bottle of formula milk, that is. (Reaching for the valium or gin when you’re a new Mom is so much more socially acceptable.)
And even if you get the logistics to work and everything functions properly, you’ve then got to work out how to free those milky beasts without committing a public act of indecency. That takes serious thought and practice. I vividly remember only being able to breastfeed if I was virtually starkers in the first few days, and it seemed so terribly cruel that just as I’d managed to find three spare minutes in which to shower and get dressed, I then had to work out how to undress myself in order to get the All Day Milk Bar open before the baby exploded from hunger. I’m exhausted just remembering all this.
Thankfully, clothes designers have come a long way in those five years, and there’s now a really fabulous choice when it comes to nursing bras, breastfeeding tops, and gorgeous but discreet nursing covers. Back in the day, my best friend and I thought we were utter goddesses when we realised that if we just wore a vest underneath a normal top, we could pop up the top and latch the baby on without having to inflict our muffin tops on the world. That was all well and good until summer, when additional layers on a breastfeeding Mom are pure torture, and don’t even get me started on the day I wore a dress to a wedding and only realised half way through the ceremony that the only way to feed my screaming baby was to lift my dress above my chest.
Whatever your views on breastfeeding, and regardless of whether you believe in your right to bare all in the name of yourchild’s nutritional needs, or prefer a more modest approach to getting the baby fed, the one thing that is guaranteed to make the experience of feeding your child easier is if you feel at ease. So we reckon that’s all that really counts. Get your boobs out if that works, and defend your right to do so. We’d be really surprised if anyone gives you grief and if they do, there’s a point to be made that they’re the ones with the skewed idea of what boobs are for, and thus when they should be seen. It makes me laugh that few people complain about objectification of women when they’re surrounded by a media which insists on dressing women in as few clothes as people – so it strikes me as absurd that anyone’s got the audacity to complain about a woman using her breasts to feed her child, which is arguably what the Good Lord created them for in the first place. Phew, rant over. Equally, if you’re happier covering up and prefer not to be noticed, invest in some lovely cover-ups and then the world is your oyster.
I think I knew I’d arrived as a breastfeeding Mom when I replied to an email with a glass of wine in hand, all while feeding the babe. Like almost everything associated with motherhood, breastfeeding gets easier. But the first step is going easier on yourself.