Modesty is making me apprehensive about breastfeeding. Help!
Q: I am 20 years old and about 10 weeks away from having my first child. I am very modest when it comes to certain things, and breastfeeding is one of them. I want to do it, but I cannot convince myself to do it. I know it sounds very selfish of me not to want to breastfeed, but is it still just as good to pump and bottle feed as it would to “out-right” breastfeed?
Jamie Dayton
A: You are not alone in your modesty. In our society, breastfeeding has largely been hidden from public view, and many women don’t have a lot of role models or support for feeding in public. I am so delighted that you want to breastfeed, because this is the most nutritious and healthy food for your newborn. In addition, breastfeeding allows for an intimacy and bonding that is beneficial for both of you.

When you first learn to breastfeed, you can do it in complete privacy. Your milk is initially more likely to flow with breastfeeding, rather than with pumping. Many of your baby’s feeding will be done in private; certainly that will be true for bedtime, nighttime and early morning feeds. You may find that you become more comfortable with breastfeeding over time. If you are in public and wish to breastfeed, you can drape a small cloth over your body or wear loose clothes to prevent exposing your nursing baby. There are many organizations to support women with breastfeeding concerns: La Leche is one of the most famous.

If you prefer to use bottled breast milk when you are in public, you can certainly do so. However, you must be aware that fresh milk can spoil, and pumped milk needs to be refrigerated and then consumed within 24 hours. Also, pumping and then bottle-feeding is more time consuming than directly breastfeeding, which may be a deterring factor for a tired new mum.