Nursing in Public

Often when the topic of nursing in public is discussed, the focus is on the right to nurse in public and the need to normalize breastfeeding. However sometimes it is a nursing mom who feels uncomfortable and avoids nursing in public. If you are a breastfeeding mom and uncomfortable nursing in the presence of others, motherhood can be rather isolating. You might spend a majority of social gatherings alone in a separate area nursing your baby. Or you might limit where you go and when you go to ensure that you are at home when baby wants to nurse. This can create negative feelings towards breastfeeding or cause a mother to be resentful of her breastfeeding relationship with her child. If you are a new mom and unsure about breastfeeding in public, here are some ideas that might make it more comfortable for you:

Practice
Try sitting in front of a mirror while nursing your baby. You might realize very little skin is exposed and the view of your breast/nipple is limited. The view you have looking down on your nursing baby is quite different than the view other people have who may be across or next to you. After practicing a bit in front of a mirror you may start to feel more comfortable knowing how little skin others are actually seeing when you nurse.

Invest in nursing attire
There are many different styles of tops made especially for nursing moms usually available where maternity clothing is sold. Some nursing tops pull down, some pull up, some pull over, and others have clips similar to what is on a nursing bra. You might need to experiment a bit to see what style works well for you. Another less expensive option is to wear a nursing tank under a regular shirt. Then when you pull the top layer up, the tank still covers your sides and stomach area.

Spend time with breastfeeding moms
La Leche League (LLL) is great place for nursing moms to connect with other nursing moms. If you attend a local LLL meeting you are likely to see many different moms nurse babies/children of various ages. Seeing other women breastfeeding can help you feel more comfortable with the idea of nursing in public. Additionally be-friending breastfeeding moms and going places with them might make nursing in public less intimidating. There is strength in numbers so by surrounding yourself with breastfeeding moms you might begin to feel okay about nursing in front of others.

Use a cover up
A nursing cover is a great option for a mother who is concerned about nursing in public discretely. They are especially designed to minimize skin exposure while allowing a mother to easily view her nursing baby. Bebe Au Lait and Hooter Hiders are among the top name brands in nursing covers. They come in an array of beautiful colors and prints. One thing to keep in mind is that if your baby is not used to using a cover, they may have a difficult time with it and try to pull it off or play with it while nursing drawing unwanted attention from others. If you would like to use one in public, you’ll want to practice with it at home from time to time so that it is familiar to your baby.

Bebe Au Lait Nursing Cover - Sevilla

Final thoughts
If you would like to start breastfeeding in public, begin in a place that is not very crowded, loud, or overly stimulated as this may distract a baby who is accustom to nursing in a quiet, secluded environment. Additionally you might want to select a place that offers a private area nearby as a backup option in case you get flustered or are struggling to get baby latched on.

Did you feel nervous about nursing in public? What helped you overcome your feelings and be able to nurse comfortably in public?

-Sarah

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3 Responses to “Nursing in Public”

  1. Jorge says:

    I like your idea of nursing in the mirror. That should help eliminate the misgivings as we watch ourselves practice. I had a hard time nursing in public. My baby didn’t make it easy for me to use a cover either. Once babies get older they don’t like being covered up at all.
    +1

  2. Chante says:

    I like your idea of nursing in the mirror. That should help eliminate the misgivings as we watch ourselves practice. I had a hard time nursing in public. My baby didn’t make it easy for me to use a cover either. Once babies get older they don’t like being covered up at all.

    • Sarah says:

      Thanks for your reply! I agree that often older babies don’t want to be covered when nursing….they usually just end up playing with it. 🙂