Putting Ourselves Last Isn't Necessarily Putting Our Children First
I loathed the nursing clothes that I encountered while I was breastfeeding, so I didn't own very many. I bought an over-priced top online that got stuck in customs until I paid more to get it out. It wasn't even that cute, but it had a loose fit on my middle and had an opening just below the bust. It was "just okay" and that was the best that I could do. Most of the time, I had to lift up my conventional shirts to breastfeed, so I chose to hide under a cover or in a room away from people, which felt lonely. I also struggled with the insecurities of a transitioning body - a thick middle, thinning hair, and other physical afflictions that I don't wish to speak of.
Needless to say, I didn't get out much. My husband encouraged me to get out, but my anxiety sometimes stopped me and society didn't exactly reassure me. I think I would have been a lot more confident and gotten out more if I had had flattering clothing that I was comfortable breastfeeding in.
As I've been preparing to launch SheFeeds, I've been asking myself why there aren’t many functional and fashionable nursing clothes on the market. If the complaints of my fellow mothers are any indication, the demand for better clothing is high. Still, new mothers are unlikely to walk into stores and demand an explanation regarding the lack of nursing apparel options. Maybe the options are limited because society believes that the early years of motherhood are a time of selflessness. Perhaps people think “mothers have been making do for hundreds of thousands of years, so what's another hundred?”
The thing is, we don't have to put ourselves last to put our children first. Ever heard of putting on your own oxygen mask before helping anyone else with theirs? Okay, so we aren't going to die without fashionable and functional clothing, but not having them contributes to the anxiety, frustration and insecurities that often come with being a mother. The less of those bad feelings we have, the more patient we will be, which is a direct benefit to our children.
Sure, women don't breastfeed forever, but a mother with two children who breastfeeds each child for one year is going to spend 730 days and somewhere around 5,000 moments configuring her clothes for breastfeeding and pumping. That’s a lot of struggle if you don’t have the right clothes and it’s too long of a period to be on the back burner of your own life. Also, if you feel good about yourself while nursing, you might do it all that much longer, so that's another win for your child. I cared about fashion before I had children and I cared about it after. I changed and sacrificed in many ways after becoming a mother, but I saw no reason to give up caring about the way that I looked. In fact, I saw a lot of reasons not to give up on that.
SheFeeds was born of my frustration - most of my good ideas are. I believe that new mothers need clothes that reflect their beautiful deeds and spirits. We don't have to be selfless to be good mothers. In fact, we shouldn't. If we love and value ourselves, our children will learn how to love and value themselves too.
Fellow mothers, don’t buy a "just okay" top. Stay tuned for the SheFeeds Kickstarter and preorder a top that makes you feel good. The icing on the cake is that 5% of sales will go to a charity that feeds the hungry. Subscribe to the SheFeeds newsletter at www.shefeeds.org to be the first to know when we launch.