Covering Up.

After spending 7 weeks with my in-laws in a small village in Punjab, I have decided to re-evaluate how I feel about covering up when nursing my baby. Ever since my son was born (Aug 2007), I have always been private about nursing my kids. If I'm at home with just my mom and husband, I don't worry about covering up; but if I'm at any family or friends’ house, I feel pressured to either scope out a private space in the home or cover up with a blanket. At our home in Punjab, though, things are very different. Women nurse wherever the heck they are sitting. Village women are dressed very conservatively to begin with - salwaar kameez and scarf (see picture 1)  - which is beneficial to nursing mothers. Because the shirt is longer, women can tuck their babies under and have the shirt hanging over. This covers any belly that would otherwise be left naked in conventional western clothing. Punjabi women also have their scarfs which they can drape around their nursing babies to provide added coverage.

Everyone in our home in Punjab is welcoming and accepting of nursing, and all of the men seem very comfortable with it. Why wouldn't they be? They were all, in fact, nursed at one point as well, weren't they?

So now after returning back to Canada after 7 weeks, I am surrounded by family whom have migrated from villages very similar to the one my in-laws live in. Why is it then that these people think I should cover up? What are they afraid of seeing? It's impossible to catch a glimpse of any nipple unless you are staring while baby pulls back to give its mommy a smile. Maybe seeing half a naked belly is what bothers people, but nowadays, western culture is exposed to much more than half-naked bellies. And, may I add, mommy bellies - stretch marks and all - are generally not nearly as enticing as the flat, toned, sexy bellies that are commonly seen on TV, magazines, and billboards.

I  guess I'm frustrated because I believe that living in North America, we as an open minded, educated collective culture should be more accepting of breastfeeding - especially after all of the research that has been done to prove ALL of its benefits. In fact, we should be pulling up nursing mothers’ shirts and banning underwire bras and... ok maybe that's going a little far. But I hope all of you understand what I am trying to say. It’s not like the mom is TRYING to flash you, for heaven sakes; all she's trying to do is feed her hungry baby. So here's my advice: If you're a woman, PLEASE encourage nursing women to feel totally at home while nursing, no matter where you are. And if you're a man, PLEASE act as casual as you can and allow your female friends the dignity to feed their babies comfortably without having to fuss with receiving blankets, shawls, or those silly nursing aprons.

After all, nursing is a natural part of life, and remember: there's more revealing things shown on daytime TV 😉