See that 👆picture? I'm actually breastfeeding in it!
I've done a lot of breastfeeding in crazy places.
The best part about breastfeeding and running errands with your baby? You don't have to bring bottles!
The hardest part about breastfeeding and running errands with your baby? Planning out how you're going to do it.
Now, I'm all about breastfeeding anywhere. I breastfed my kids everywhere - restaurants, the beach, the middle of a mall, the library. I've even breastfed in the middle seat of a crowded airplane between two large men who did not share the armrests. Seriously, this happened and, no, they didn't see anything because I was such a breastfeeding ninja :)
Breastfeeding is the most amazing thing in the world. We can feed small humans with our bodies! There's absolutely no shame in it at all, but, personally, I didn't grow up comfortable in a locker room setting and so I tend towards being more modest and wanting better coverage.
However, both my babies had other plans for me. They refused to be covered while breastfeeding. They needed to see the world! So nursing covers were out for me.
I used the tips below to give myself a little bit of modesty while breastfeeding in public.
Tips for Breastfeeding in Public
1. Wear Clothing That Allows Easy Access
T-shirts are very comfy, however, the only way to breastfeed a baby while wearing one is to lift the whole thing up. Hanging out with post-partum belly exposed was not fun for me, so I exclusively wore button downs and nursing shirts when I was breastfeeding.
- Nursing shirts: I looooved all my nursing shirts. My favorites were the ones where you lift a flap up to expose the holes. These always had a little bit of extra material so I could cover baby's mouth and my entire breast.
- Button down shirts: When you're wearing a button down shirt and breastfeeding, only open one or two buttons at nipple level. Then pull the opening to the breast you will feed baby from. If you want most of your chest to be covered, keep the top button closed.
- Nursing bra: You can work around a regular bra under your shirt, but nursing bras really do make it much easier.
Nursing shirts and button downs are also fabulous for pumping because you have easy boob access and you can stay warm!
The picture above was me talking to the pediatrician while breastfeeding in a nursing shirt and bra.
2. Use a Blanket or Cloth to Cover Yourself
Nursing covers are insanely cute these days. And they have the circle part so you can watch baby while still being covered.
If you don't have a nursing cover, you can use any blanket or towel.
As I mentioned before, my kids were absolutely not having any kind of cover, but I did use them when I pumped in the bathroom.
On work trips, I inevitably would have to pump on the plane or on a layover. I was not willing to sit on a toilet while I pumped (and there're no plugs in there anyway!) and I wanted to keep whatever particles were flying around off my milk as much as possible. So I used a nursing cover while I stood and pumped at the sinks. Good times!
In the picture above, I was walking around a castle in Italy while breastfeeding my son in a ring sling style baby carrier. See how he still has his eyes free to look around! My mom didn't realize I was breastfeeding at all when she took this picture :)
In the picture at the top of this article, I was breastfeeding while hiking up Mount Vesuvius using an ergobaby carrier. It was windy that day so my son was willing to stay inside the jacket!
3. Choose to Breastfeed in a Dressing Room or Nursing Room
If covers aren’t your thing but you’re not ready to bare it to the world, find a nursing room or dressing room. There are a lot more mother's rooms around these days. They even have mom pods in airports!
4. Practice at Home
If you haven't tried breastfeeding without stripping down and you're nervous about doing it in public, practice in front of a mirror. Practice putting baby on and off both breasts so you can see where you're exposed and where you aren't.
Figuring out how to arrange a blanket and a squirming baby can be very difficult. Practice helps this immensely!
5. Give Close Neighbors a Warning
Once I got really comfortable breastfeeding, I did it at the drop of a hat. Even if I was mid conversation with someone. I just didn't think about it.
Until one evening, I was out with an old friend who did not have kids. I just did my thing and I could tell she was a little bothered. She was a trooper and didn't say anything though.
A couple hours later, it was feeding time again, so I gave her a heads up this time. Just a little, "Hey, I'm about to whip my boob out and feed this baby. If you don't want to see any accidental nipple, you should probably look over there at that beautiful tree for a moment." She was genuinely relieved that I gave her an out. Americans are weird about boobs. I can do breastfeeding my way without having to have people near me change their belief system.
6. Be Prepared for Criticism
Unfortunately, it’s difficult to escape prying eyes and criticism. Remember, feeding your baby is completely natural and there is nothing sexual about it.
Every time I read a horror story about a mom being asked to stop or leave or anything while breastfeeding, I got angry. Like irrationally angry.
So I had a whole rational explanation that i was prepared to deliver if that ever happened to me.
It never did, but it would have been great if it had.
Think about what you would say in advance if someone criticized you for breastfeeding in public. That way, when your emotions are running high, you'll be prepared.
The other option is to ignore the criticism.
If you ever feel you are in danger, ask to speak with an employee and request an escort when you leave.
Breastfeeding in Public Doesn't Have to Be Scary
Breastfeeding in public is a touchy subject, but all moms have the right to feed their child anywhere. Do whatever is best for you when it comes to breastfeeding in public. I hope these tips help you feel more comfortable. Because, if Bob can eat a candy bar in the middle of a mall, your kid can certainly have a drink of milk.