World Breastfeeding Week- How to Nurse in Public

This week, August 1-7, is World Breastfeeding Week! I have been wanting to make a post about it, but I haven’t known what to write.  WBW is about drawing attention to breastfeeding during emergencies.  I have actually thought about how thankful I am to be breastfeeding for this reason.  If our power was out, I would be able to feed my baby with no troubles.  If you want to read more about this, the lovely Melodie has a great post about WBW on her blog, Breastfeeding Moms Unite.

In honor of WBW, I am going to talk about nursing in public.  I am always amazed to hear the stories of women who encounter negative comments about breastfeeding their babies in public.  I have yet to receive a comment, positive or negative, but I am always prepared with a witty comeback just in case. Because of the sexualization of breasts, when they are seen even slightly while nursing our babies, they get looks.  No woman should ever have to be asked to feed their baby in a bathroom.  Or asked to leave a public place due to nursing their child.  I personally believe in modesty when breastfeeding my son.  I wear strategic clothing to keep my stomach and breasts covered.  I do not, however, use a nursing cover.  I also nurse my son while wearing him when convenient and possible.

Here are a few tips I have discovered that could help you nurse your baby comfortably and discreetly in public:

  1. Plan ahead: If you know that you will be out and you aren’t comfortable nursing your child in public, top them off before leaving your house or in the car before you arrive.  I did this often when my son was a newborn.  I usually didn’t even have to nurse him on our trips because we planned them short enough that he would eat before we left, and once we got back home.
  2. Location, location, location: Ideally, every store and public arena would have a room for nursing mothers with comfy couches, a changing table, a refrigerator stocked with cold water, and relaxing music to set the mood.  Most of the time I will settle for a bench somewhere out of the way where there is little noise.  Your baby is aware of the world around him or her once they get older.  Because of this, every passerby, cash register beep, paging intercom, helicopter overhead, and bright light will cause your baby to turn and look.  When breastfeeding, this isn’t the best time to be stimulated.  Feeding in the quietest place available is best to keep your child latched on for the whole feeding.
  3. Nursing Necklace: Most moms wear little to no jewelry because their little ones always seems to grab and play with it.  It is fun for them, but not for your jewelry or skin.  With nursing necklaces, your baby can play while nursing.  It may keep them entertained enough to stay latched on, which will keep your breast from peeking out!
  4. Nursing Attire: You don’t have to buy “nursing tops” or even nursing bras, though they are handy.  Sport bras can be pulled over to the side, and so can many soft molded cup bras.  This might but extra wear and tear on your bras.  Even though I own a few tops designed for nursing, the choices are limited.  Here are come dressing combos that I find very handy for nursing in public:

2 layers-

A v neck or low cut tank top: (or a nursing tank top, which unsnaps at the top) under any shirt of your choice: You can pull your breast out from the top and either pull your bra over, or unsnap your nursing bra.  This is my combo of choice during the milder temperatures.  When nursing, pull the top shirt down around your breast, and there will be nothing visible.  It is very discreet!

A button up shirt or sweater, worn over a v neck or low cut tank top or nursing tank top: When you are ready to nurse your child, unbutton and pull your breast from the top.  This may show more because your cleavage will not be covered.  You can try to pull the opposite side of your sweater over as much as possible to compensate.  Buttons are a pain when your child is famished.

1 Layer and 1/2 Layers-

Belly Band- Do you remember that Belly Band your wore while pregnant to keep your pants up?  This is a great option to keep your belly covered while nursing as well.  Wear the band over your stomach, and top it with whatever top you like.  You can pull your top up to nurse, while keeping your mommy tummy hidden.  The band may slip around or ride up, but if it is comfortable for you then use it!

1 Layer-

If it is hot, I do not bother with a tank top underneath my shirt.  In this case, here are some 1 layer options.

A low cut v neck- I like these because I can pull up and to the side, and just unsnap my nursing bra.  While not as discreet because the top of your breast is visible, when it is hot, it’s hot!  This does keep your belly covered.

A Nursing Top- There are shirts designed for nursing that have convenient openings.  They are meant to keep you very covered, while allowing easy access to your breast.  Not all nursing tops are created equal.  I have tried a few that just plain didn’t work.  The slit was positioned oddly and was too small.  Some aren’t as discreet as the tried and true double layer method of a tank underneath and shirt on top.  I like nursing tops with hidden panels like this one that you pull over.  The only difference between this style and a low cut v neck is that the panel covers the cleavage, and leave you a little more covered.


Dresses- Sometimes, we need to dress up.  Whether for a purpose, or for fun, this is a challenge when nursing.  Shopping can be depressing when it comes to dresses.  I have actually stopped going to the dress department altogether.  The only way to nurse in a dress is to pull up or to the side.  You can pull up from a strapless dress.  I have done this, but there isn’t much that isn’t showing.  The best option is again, a low cut V that you can pull to the side. One day, I will get to wear a pretty dress that isn’t a V neck!  There are nursing dresses, but they are hard to find and very expensive.

Babywearing- For convenience, babywearing is one way to nurse that is also discreet.  Many mothers swear by ring slings or pouch slings for newborns.  I envisioned nursing my son while cradling him in a sling.  Unfortunately, my son did not enjoy this position.  I have nursed him in a ring sling while wearing him in the tummyy to tummy position, or while he was on my hip.  If you use a wrap, there are many ways to nurse.  I have yet to try them, but there is a great blog with this video of how to nurse in a wrap: Sling is Love. I have also recently discovered the ease of nursing in my Ergo.  When you loosen one strap, you are able to nurse by bringing your breast up to the baby.  This will require practice, and also works best with tops you can pull out of from the top. Today I nursed my son in the Ergo while shopping.  I checked out with him latched and no one was the wiser!  Here is a how to video on how to nurse in an Ergo.

I realize many of my bloggy friends have written posts in honor of WBW.  If you have, use Mclinky to add your post and share!

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