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Why Not Breastfeed in a Bikini?

It’s August, which means it's National Breastfeeding Awareness Month! Woot! Breastfeeding! Party time!

Actually, National Breastfeeding Awareness Month is a campaign funded by the US government to encourage women to breastfeed their babies by highlighting the research showing that babies who are breastfed for at least six months are less likely to develop ear infections, diarrhea and childhood obesity. But in honor of National Breastfeeding Awareness Month, I’d like to encourage you to celebrate a different way.

RELATED: Celebrity Photos of Moms Breastfeeding Their Babies

As the mother of two, I made two very different choices with each of my children in regards to breastfeeding. I breastfed my oldest exclusively and formula fed my youngest exclusively. Both my kids are healthy and happy. In fact, my formula-fed baby gets ear infections and colds far less often than her breastfed older brother. Go figure.

I tell you this because the mere mention of the word breastfeeding usually starts a heated debate between anyone within earshot, as if motherhood is a breastfeeding boxing ring and we all need to take sides. We don’t. We just need to make the right choice for ourselves and for our families. Sometimes that means breastfeeding our babies and sometimes it doesn’t.

I’d like to encourage you breastfeeders and future mommies to find your inner Jane Birkin and make nursing your baby feel glamorous.

One of the reasons I opted not to nurse my youngest was the sheer isolation that I felt while breastfeeding my oldest. He was easy to breastfeed, but I often felt isolated, even lonely. I didn’t enjoy sitting half naked alone in my car, a restaurant or a friend’s house, trying to hide my overflowing breasts and my still not flat tummy that had recently housed my son. To me, breastfeeding meant being alone. And doing it again was something I chose not to do.

Recently, I came across this gorgeous photo of British actress Jane Birkin, taken in Majorca in 1967. Now a director and actress, Birkin is also the muse who inspired the famed Hermes Birkin bag that so many fashionistas covet. But what’s notable about the photo isn’t who is pictured, it’s what she’s doing. Jane Birkin is breastfeeding her daughter Kate out in the open while wearing a bikini. Yes, a bikini.

I can tell you that for the 12 months I exclusively breastfed my son, I never did it in a bikini. Usually, I was wearing some form of sweats with one of those nursing tanks with the flip down nip cover, which are made of material just slightly less comfortable than a scuba suit. I felt chubby, my exposed chest and body a constant reminder that my post-baby tummy looked more like a Charpe dog than my pre-pregnancy flat tummy. Breastfeeding exposed my body, which I desperately wanted to hide.

RELATED: When Babies Prefer Boobs to Bottles

So in honor of National Breastfeeding Month, I’d like to encourage you breastfeeders and future mommies to find your inner Jane Birkin and make nursing your baby feel glamorous. Put on a bikini, a pair of heals or even your comfy sweats and nursing tank. Just don’t do what I did and hide yourself while hating your body. You may not be a European actress sitting on the beaches of Majorca while feeding your baby, but there’s no reason you can’t feel like one. Every new mom should feel like a movie star, whether she breastfeeds her baby or not.

Image via Into the Gloss, Andrew Birkin's "Jane & Serge: A Family Album"

READ MORE: Celebrity Moms Breastfeed Their Babies

Image via Patrick Demarchelier/Glamour

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