Mama Miller Parenting

Passionate parenting and homemaking.

Modesty and Motherhood

on July 24, 2013

Some personal history…

I had a very difficult delivery with my son. Nothing, and I mean nothing, went as planned. I was left feeling horribly broken. I was not allowed to nurse until about 10 hours post delivery. It was awful. Then in the hospital we had a barrage of well meaning visitors. I just couldn’t bring myself to nurse with my pastor or family in the room. I was uncomfortable and still wrapping my mind around how broken I felt. (It really is the only word I can bring to mind on it.)

I pumped, nursed around the clock, and tried teas and supplements. My supply was still gone by 6 weeks. Again, broken. I had a few unknowing moms ask me why I chose not to breastfeed. It was never my choice. My body was having a horrible time healing and just didn’t produce. It was heartbreaking. I felt like a failure.

When my daughter came along I vowed to make it work. I had a much easier delivery with E. I was nursing within the hour. I adopted a new policy of, ‘You may wait to come in or risk seeing a tiny bit of boob as I feed the baby’. I was still as discreet as possible and respectful of everyone, but I refused to sit awkwardly on the side of a bed in the other room or get uncomfortably engorged while waiting for others to leave.

I plan to nurse Baby F and I hope to nurse longer and without supplementing formula this time. I am staying home full time and I feel much more comfortable with my body this time around.

This brings me to a topic that has been on my mind frequently in the past few months- modesty.


There is a lot of debate right now on nursing and how it effects modesty- especially in religious circles. Where is the line? It is immodest for a mom to nurse discreetly but uncovered in public? Are we ‘leading our brothers into temptation’?


As a mom of a boy (with another on the way) and a girl, I often wonder how to parent to the idea of modesty. I’ve personally decided that, while I will teach my daughter modesty out of respect for her own body, my biggest duty is to teach my sons to respect women.

There are depraved individuals out there who will take advantage of women- modest or not, but I think the majority of men are capable of seeing a woman as a whole person and not just a bunch of parts. My sons will be bombarded with billboards, ads, and commercials that sexualize the female form. They will. It is everywhere. I’d much rather them see a mom in the act of feeding her child than shaking her goods in a bikini. I see far more exposed breasts at the pool than I ever have from a mom nursing uncovered in public.


Yes, teaching modesty can cut down on sexual assaults, but so can teaching our sons not to rape and that “not a clear no” does not mean “yes”. Teaching the non sexual functions of our parts is important too. Plus seeing pregnant and nursing women can help young men and women make the connection between sex and reproduction. (Babies are often the result of sex… Just saying.)

I personally cover when nursing, but I understand why others don’t. Some babies are not comfortable eating with a drape over their head. And I find it deplorable to ask a mom to feed her child in a restroom. I invite anyone suggesting moms do this to eat there lunch on a public toilet today. Did you have fun with that? It would be disgusting for an adult, so why bring an infant and recovering mother into that situation?

If my son sees a mom nursing in public, we just say, “She is feeding her baby mommy’s milk. Some mommies feed their babies that way and some use a bottle. Isn’t that neat? Remember when mommy fed sister that way?” It really is a far less embarrassing thing to explain than, “Why is that lady on the sign in her underwear?”

I recently read this article on nursing and the Christian faith. It rocked my world and confirmed a lot of my own beliefs.

I will never get on a soap box about breast is best or make anyone feel bad about how you feed your baby, but I ask that, no matter you choice, you respect other moms and teach your children that feeding a baby mommy’s milk is normal. And for heaven’s sake do not ask a mom to go to the restroom! YUCK!

***Added note*** Please keep in mind that not all moms are able to nurse. It isn’t fair for moms to be put in a no win situation. Nursing in public is “gross”. Bottle feeding is “unnatural”. It isn’t fair to mothers or babies. Infants require food. Mothers provide it however they can. Circle of Life. End of story.

27 responses to “Modesty and Motherhood

  1. momtimes4 says:

    I think if breastfeeding bothers people then they just shouldn’t look at it. I breastfed my kids in public. It’s weird that it bothers people. It’s completely natural after all.

  2. It is natural, but there is so much ignorance in our country. Many other countries with far more rigid views on modesty don’t make such a fuss about it like America does. I think we are over sexualizing a nature function.

  3. Mama Goose says:

    I exclusively bf my five month old, and I do cover when in public. I also am very discreet around my son, who is ten, when breastfeeding at home. I agree with pp that our country generally has warped views on bf…women’s breasts are sexual objects first, far before God’s intended way to feed our children. It shouldn’t be that way, but because it is, I just am far too shy and uncomfortable to not be covered. I go to La Leche League meetings with friends, and none of them cover, and they’re always warning me that my baby won’t tolerate the cover for much longer! I have no what I’ll do then, lol. But I applaud you for breastfeeding whatever way works best for you, and not letting anyone make you feel uncomfortable. That is such an important factor to making it work.

    Good luck with breastfeeding your new LO! This is my fourth baby, and the first time I’ve been able to exclusively bf without supplementing. Breastfeeding has always been difficult for me as well, but it does get easier over time!

    • Thank you for the encouraging words! I do like to add that sometimes the more ‘extreme’ lactivists (baring both whole breasts each time) seem to hurt the cause more than help. Normalizing without sensationalizing is important. I am hoping to be able to nurse long enough to have the problem of him not wanting the cover! I’ve found a few nursing tanks that should help if I have to go uncovered. Uncovered doesn’t mean letting it all hang out! πŸ™‚

      • Mama Goose says:

        Absolutely! The women I know who nurse without covers are so discreet no one around them usually even notices. By the time you have the problem with the cover, your baby will be bigger and should cover everything pretty well with it’s head.

  4. Valerie says:

    Thanks for coming by yesterday and sharing your thoughts. πŸ™‚
    I really do think it’s a shame how something so normal has been made into a big deal. And, you’re right – those women who DO make it a big deal are just making things worse!
    I’m so sorry about what happened with your son; the birth and what followed sounds like it was horrible. Anything that makes you feel broken has to have been terribly bad. πŸ˜₯
    Remind me, when are you due with your new little one? πŸ˜€

    • I’m due in September. My son just turned 4 and my daughter will be 2 mid-September and have a little brother a week and a half later. πŸ™‚

      • Valerie says:

        Our youngest will be 2 on Sept 8th! πŸ˜€
        That’s cute, your kids will be able to count by two’s easily because of their age difference!!
        “How old are they?” (asks someone) “2, 4, 6” (says you) “4, 6, 8” (says you a few years later!) They’re bound to learn just by hearing your answer! πŸ˜‰

      • It will be nice! It is a whole different world for my husband and I. He was an only child and I was one of five, but more spread out in age. πŸ™‚

    • His birth was one of the most joyous times in my times in my life, but it is so hard to let go of our own plans. My natural birth and exclusive nursing were thrown out the window. The hormonal changes from the removal of my ovary definitely didn’t pair well with the normal changes after pregnancy. It is funny how happiness and sadness can mix in one overpowering emotion in times like that.

      • Valerie says:

        “It is funny how happiness and sadness can mix in one overpowering emotion in times like that.” – Definitely. Have you written your birth story on your blog anywhere?

      • Yes. The top link on this post is my son’s birth story and the next one is my daughter’s.

      • Valerie says:

        Great! I hadn’t looked around yet to see if I could find it, and I knew you could direct me to it easily. πŸ˜‰ Yes, I’m lazy this morning….

      • Ha. I am like that most mornings. My 4 year old spent the night with my mom, so this morning is blissfully quiet without my chatter box. Lol

      • Valerie says:


  5. Valerie says:

    Oh! And that cow comic made me literally laugh out loud!

  6. erikamari says:

    Mama Miller, this post is so great. Thank you so much for talking about how it can be such a struggle to not feel broken after having a baby. I had my first 4 months ago. After a 54 hr labor in a birth center I ended up having an emergency c-section. broken. now i am on disability bc of a horrible pain that my dr cant explain. ultrasounds, bloodwork, CT scans, everything comes up negative. he thinks it may be endometrosis…great. In either case i am in pain all the time and cant even be intimate because sex makes me cry. broken. now im trying to figure out what i will do if and when i can return to work. will i be broken if I give up my independence by being at home with my little one full time? its all confusing but i am comforted that i am not alone and that we have a choice to be happy. I will hold onto my faith in His plan, and continue to read your blog. Thanks again.

    • I’m so sorry you’ve had such a hard recovery. It is so hard to let go of our plans and ideals. I never dreamed my path would lead me here. Trying for natural birth is amazing and admirable, but (like breastfeeding) it doesn’t always work. It is hard not to feel loss after a natural delivery turns into a c-section. You essentially go through a double whammy of the birthing process. While I am all for VBACs, my ovarian condition prevented it. I can tell you the c-section without the emergency element is MUCH EASIER. I hope you are able to get answers soon!
      I also struggled with staying home. I felt like I was wasting my education. But it makes sense for us financially right now. It is cheaper to stay home with three kids than just work to see all my earnings go to daycare. It isn’t for everyone, but it is an amazing calling. Blessings to you no matter what road you take!

  7. Addie says:

    I’ve been trying to figure out how to be modest (getting in and out of the shower, etc.) at home with boys getting older and older, but I realize they will be seeing mom nurse for a long time. I especially appreciate the concept of promoting awareness for kids that our bodies do not only have sexual purposes.

    That said, I have to share an interesting little conversation I had with Efrim (almost 4) last week. I was wearing a night gown with no bra underneath when one of the boys elbowed me, and out of habit I said something about a boob. Efrim, pointing, says, “Mom, what do we call these?” I said, “Mommy calls them milks, because that is wear milk comes from for babies.” He takes this in with his serious face and then responds, “Yeah, I call them baby bottles because they have these….(pokes me in the nipple) sssstraws, but I think Oscar (baby on the way) calls them boobies, because he is a little baby and doesn’t know about the milk yet.”

    • We’ve had more questions about boy/girl differences. “Why don’t you and sister have a pee-pee?” I’ve told him that everyone has a pee-pee but that girl and boy pee-pees are different. I have a hard time maintaining modesty in the bathroom/shower because I can’t get the kids out of there!

    • By the way, I love the story about Efrim. It has been a while since I nursed Eily, so I am trying to remind him of their purpose. He asked me if his will get big like mine. “No, only girls’ get big because we use them to make milk for babies.”

  8. Such a thoughtful post, and brilliant pics to get the point across. Love it!!

  9. mamacita says:

    Nice post.

    I’m all for what ever works… I long term breast feed, bedshare, had natural births….but I support mums who bottle feed, sleep train and want/need planned c-sections. In fact thre is no opposite, we mix and match, we continually strive to do what’s best by our bodies, our families and our cultures. Each and every style should be respected.

    And as for people who think a bit of flashing milk boob is tempting men…. First of all maybe we should give men a bit more credit! And second if they want to see flashing (or more) of booby th only need ito turn on MTV or the Internet…honestly! The term ” bigger fish to fry” springs to mind!!

    • So true. I see so much more chest in swimsuit ads than from nursing moms. I don’t know of many men who look at a tired, nursing mother and think, “that is hot”. I think we are all just doing the best we can.

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