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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

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How to Discretely Nurse in Public

Breastfeeding your child is a beautiful experience. Not only is breast milk best for baby, but there are a number of benefits for the nursing mom as well. Nursing in the privacy of your own home is one thing, but some mothers feel intimidated by nursing in public. We can't stay in the confines of our homes forever, and expressing breast milk to bottle feed during outings is both time consuming and potentially damaging to the breastfeeding relationship (such as in the development of bottle preferences).

While some mothers have no issue feeding their babies in any situation, any attire, and around any company, other mothers prefer to keep the fact that they are nursing more discrete. A modest mother may be tempted to seek privacy in public restroom stalls: a practice that is both unsanitary and uncomfortable, and serving as a detriment to the nursing relationship. Instead, nursing mothers should be able to find products or solutions to enhance their breastfeeding experience, and allow them to nurse comfortably and discretely in public when necessary.

Nursing Shawls: A nursing shawl offers great coverage while nursing, without drawing attention to the nursing mother. The shawl can be worn over any shirt for an outing, but may work best when paired with shirts that have loose fitting neck lines (or those that button up). You can wear your nursing shawl over a nursing tank top to make feeding even easier.

Nursing Tank Tops: A mother can select to wear a nursing tank top underneath of her shirt for outings. When baby needs to feed, the outer shirt is lifted to provide access to the breast, while the tank top covers the stomach and back. The outer shirt can be used to cover the breast while baby is feeding. Tank tops are relatively inexpensive, however you may need to purchase several of them.

Decorative scarves: Try pairing a button-down dress shirt (or a shirt with a wide neck line) with a decorative scarf. The dress shirt can be unbuttoned when baby needs to feed, and the scarf used as a cover.

Nursing Covers: There are a variety of different nursing covers available on the market today. Many covers are developed so that the nursing mother can easily see the nursing baby. While covers offer the benefit of completely covering the baby, covers may be difficult to use in warm weather. Other mothers feel that nursing covers draw more attention to the fact that they are nursing.

Blankets: A thin swaddling blanket can make a perfect nursing cover. Either cover baby completely, or lightly drape the cloth over baby's face while nursing. Thin blankets can also be used for wiping up drips of milk or burping the baby after a feeding.

These are only some of the solutions that will allow a mother to discretely nurse in public and provide confidence to those who are just beginning their breastfeeding relationship. It is often difficult to spot a mother nursing in public: usually bystanders are oblivious that a “sleeping baby” may actually be nursing. I still remember one instance where a woman approached me as I was nursing my son in public. She walked up to us and pulled back the blanket covering his face before I could warn her. She simply smiled and said, “Oh, he’s eating. He’s so beautiful! You are so blessed!” That woman made me feel proud to be a nursing mother.

Bio: Nissa is a researcher and writer working in the life sciences. In her free time, she enjoys writing about natural parenting, cloth diapering, and eco-friendly living at Cloth Diaper Guru.


Lovely Mrs. Long said...

Thank you, not every woman who supports breastfeeding wants to be on the cover of TIME with a 6 year old hanging off their boob! It is a very healthy decision for most children but I get really upset by the militant in your face mind set that most people think of when they think "lacktivism" No one ever has an issue with seeing a vagina as both functional and sexual but if a breastfeeding woman thinks her breasts are sexual she is a pariah. I just want to breastfeed my child without being all "look at me tits" so thanks!!!

Jessica Brown said...

im having my son in a month and looking to breast feed! thank you for this post :)

Jessica Brown said...

thank you for this post!! im having my son soon and want to breastfeed.

jane said...

It's important for breastfeeding moms to feel comfortable, and if covering is what they want then they should do so by all means! But it's equally important to get people used to seeing breastfeeding moms everywhere, which will help to make it normal again, and not something to stare at. I'm normally extremely modest, but have luckily had no qualms about nursing anywhere, anytime. Good thing too, because baby does not like to have her head covered!