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I can distinctly remember the first time I nursed in public. My husband, younger brother, and I took my oldest daughter to a local park to enjoy the fresh summer air. We had a simple picnic. She was barely over two weeks old. We were anxious about taking her out in public but were getting stir crazy in the house. I had a simple nursing cover and my little one had finally gotten the hang of her suckling, so we went for it. It was a breezy day so my cover kept flying around and I was sitting on the ground with no arm or back support. But she was hungry and that is what it took to feed her.

Nursing my oldest daughter

As she grew older, we did our best to plan our outings around her feedings so I didn’t have to worry about nursing in public. It felt weird to me. But as she became better at nursing, I realized going out with her was easier as well. I often found myself nursing her with one hand and eating with the other at a restaurant, finding a park bench at the zoo or museum, even nursing in the car on several occasions (parked, of course!).  I never attempted walking around shopping or something while nursing, although I’m sure we would have been successful at it. She nursed until she was 15 months old and has been nursed pretty much anywhere and everywhere. BUT, with that said, she was always discreetly under a cover. Yes, there were plenty of slips, but I simply did not feel comfortable exposed.

It is completely different with the twins. I won’t go into any details of the problems in this post, but let’s just say nursing in public just isn’t really an option. It makes it really hard to enjoy time away from home. In most cases, if we are gone longer than an hour or two, we bring formula and give them a bottle. It works for them but still leaves me uncomfortable and engorged.

I believe all women should have a comfortable place to nurse. I’ve seen many malls and large venues with family restrooms with stalls for toilets as well as multiple changing tables and booths with curtains to nurse in. I’m not saying women should HAVE to cover up but as a woman myself, who chose to cover up, it would have been much easier for me to have a place designated for me to be a mom. Trust me, I think a baby nursing is the most adorable thing in the world, but if it makes someone around me uncomfortable, I do not get angry or rude. I simply ensure that I’m covered, finish what I’m doing, and move on. I am fortunate that no one has ever asked me to go to a bathroom or to stop what I am doing. In fact, I was very blessed at a fair. I was nursing on a blanket in the grass behind a craft tent. An older gentleman working the booth seemed to be giving me dirty looks but I later realized he was just trying to figure out if I was actually nursing like he thought I was. He brought his chair over to me and said he’d stand for as long as it took.

Either way, if you are like me and want to nurse in public but are not sure how to balance discretion and convenience, here are a few suggestions:

  1. Nursing Tank Tops. I have several of these in a variety of colors. I wear them under all of my shirts. They are comfortable, support like a bra and are super easy to click open to nurse. As a tank top, they open from the top only exposing the breast you are using. Your back and stomach remain covered. You can easily use your top shirt to then cover the top of your breast, revealing very little skin once the baby is latched. This style at Target is one of my favorites.
  2. Nursing Cover: If you choose to use a cover as well, find one that has an apron like style (so your precious baby can’t pull the whole thing off of you.) They also make styles that give you a peek at your baby. You can still make and keep eye contact with her without anyone knowing what’s going on. There are a variety of different places to buy covers. My personal ones have come from Udder Covers (I also have their 100% cotton washable breast pads and LOVE them.)
  3. Nursing Shirts: Another option for comfort is nursing tops. They are designed to look just like any other ordinary shirt but have extra layers and holes you wouldn’t even guess were there without being told. I personally like the styles sold at Old Navy. They are a lightweight jersey blend dressy enough to be business casual with the right pants and accessories but comfortable enough for every day and easily paired with yoga pants for the stay-at-home mom. Plus, they are inexpensive.

Whatever your choice, nursing in public or not, just remember that what you are doing is your personal choice. Do not let those around you, especially strangers you very well may never see again, determine what you can and can’t do.

Might I suggest though being nice enough to not openly nurse in front of your dad, uncles, brothers, etc.? Your male family members most definitely do not want to see your breasts, even just a little bit, no matter how much they support you nursing.

Category: Babies

Tags: breastfeeding