Posts Tagged ‘breastfeeding in public’

Breastfeeding in Public: Know Your Rights!

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

When my second son was about 3 months old a dear childhood friend of mine asked if I would stand up in her summer wedding. Of course I was honored and excited. Being the unconventional woman that she is, she wanted us to pick out our own bridesmaids dresses. While most friends might appreciate this freedom, I almost preferred being assigned a poofy, lacey, hot pink, over-priced bridesmaid dress that would surely be ordered 3 sizes too big so the store could make additional money on alternations. Honestly that seemed easier to me than picking out my own dress. I’m terrible when it comes to fashion and not a fan of shopping at.all However I am willing to do most things in the name of friendship, even if it includes braving the mall in search of a nondescript bridesmaid dress.

I brought my 3 month old with me on this mission since he was exclusively breastfed at the time and I had no idea how long this mission would take to complete. Upon entering the department store I felt lost among the sea of choices not knowing what was in style, what would fit my newly postpartum body, or what size I might be in a few months. One additional criteria was I had to be able to nurse in the dress. After some browsing I realized finding a breastfeeding accessible dress might prove to be my biggest challenge. Many of the dresses inspired visions of myself half naked in the reception hall bathroom trying to nurse my son who would be completely distracted by all the loud, tipsy wedding guests coming and going.

About an hour into the shopping trip my son began to fuss. He was hungry. I looked around scoping out a comfortable place for us to sit and nurse. I was in an upscale department store and there happened to be a nice, plush bench in the middle of the women’s section. It looked like the perfect place to park ourselves so he could nurse. By three months of age we were pretty adept at breastfeeding. He was able to latch on quickly and I was able to be discreet. After he had been nursing a few minutes a saleslady approached me suggesting that I “finish doing that in the dressing room”. It was actually a request disguised as a suggestion. I replied with a direct “No thank you. We are comfortable here.” A silent stare down ensued for what felt like an eternity before she finally walked away, huffing loudly. As soon as she left my heart started to beat fast. Please, oh please don’t get a manager and make this into a bigger confrontation, I thought to myself. See the thing is I knew my right to breastfeed my son in public and was prepared to exercise it as needed, however I simply wanted to nurse my son in peace and continue shopping. Thankfully she resumed her position behind the counter and resorted to shooting me occasional cold, angry glances. No big deal. I could cope with that especially because my son was fast and efficient when it came to nursing. He finished fairly quickly and we were ready to move away from the negative energy in that store.

Do you know that there are laws to protect the rights of breastfeeding mothers? Breastfeeding laws, like car seat laws, vary from state to state. As a breastfeeding mother it is important to be familiar with your state’s laws should you need to exercise your right to nurse in public. In AZ (where I reside) the law allows mothers to breastfeed any age child in any public domain without needing to cover up or risk being cited for “indecent exposure”. My local La Leche League group suggests that if you are breastfeeding in public and asked to move, respond by asking “am I allowed to be here with my child if  I was not breastfeeding?” If the answer is yes, then you have every right to be there while breastfeeding. I find having a clear response such as this tucked away to use if needed helps me feel more confident in knowing how to handle such a situation. Your response might vary per state so be sure to understand your state’s specific language regarding breastfeeding in public.

I encourage you to confidently nurse your baby wherever YOU feel comfortable knowing that the law supports a baby’s RIGHT to acess mother’s milk in public!

Have you ever had a confrontation regarding breastfeeding in public? If so how did you repsond?


By the way in case you were curious here is the bridesmaid dress I ended up getting. That’s my two year old with a ridiculously forced smile and my nursling who wanted nothing to do with the photographer. And me…pre-dreads and *gasp* with makeup on!




Nursing in Public

Friday, October 7th, 2011

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:

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?