👶 motherhood / haute mommy how-to series

haute mommy how-to: nursing in public

nursing in public

Yay! I completed one year of nursing my younger daughter Peanut.

What a ride it’s been. It’s hard to believe the places that I have nursed both of my daughters, places I never thought I would find myself in—bathroom stalls, flights, airport floors, car backseats, friends’ homes—but realized later it came down to just feeding my children.

I wish someone had told me all this before, so I could have planned better. Well it was, um, interesting, and I learned a lot on my own in the meantime.

baby1

Here are some suggestions for places to nurse, when you have no other option:

Bathroom stall: This is good if you are in a mall or library, for instance, and need a place to hide. Whenever possible, use the handicapped stall. I don’t know if it’s un-PC to do that, but you wouldn’t have enough space otherwise. Just get in and get out quickly, as flushing noises and hand dryers will probably spook your little one.

Car backseat: Good for once you’ve arrived at your destination and will be far away from your car for some time, like when you are sightseeing.

Flight: You only have two options here—in your seat, or in the lavatory. Considering that one nursing session can last up to 15 minutes or more and it may look suspicious if you are in the lavatory that long, you’re better off staying in your seat. I’ve never fed in the lavatory, but I can’t imagine there would be enough room in there.

A friend’s home: The easiest one of all! Just ask to use their bedroom.

Try to plan ahead as much as possible, by nursing within 15 minutes of leaving your home. Even if your baby has a diaper blowout—and they are inevitable—it will be easier in many ways to deal with that in a potentially public setting, rather than finding out where you can nurse in peace, because you didn’t do it at home first.

scarf

MAKE YOUR OUTFIT WORK FOR YOU

When dressing to go out, wear clothes that are going to be your allies.

  1. Scarves are extremely helpful, both for coverage during and after a nursing session, if you don’t have a blanket handy (see #3).
  2. Button-down shirts are also easier to manage. If you want to wear a pullover top, it should be stretchy enough to be able to nurse without too much effort.
  3. ALWAYS keep a blanket or two handy. Swaddling ones work best, as they are nice and big. The blanket shouldn’t be so heavy that it keeps slipping off while you’re nursing.

While out in public, it’s easy to get caught up in what others may be thinking: Is anyone looking at me? Am I covered up enough? Practice nursing with a blanket while at home, and let this method become second nature to you.

If you’re out longer than expected and baby isn’t very hungry, consider bringing your breast pump along with you.

baby2

There were many times in the past with my older daughter Pumpkin, where I would over-think and wonder Where could I feed her? and What if there was no place to do it discreetly? Would she starve???

I very quickly learned that the Mama Bear in me would never let that happen. I would put off the feeding for as long as I could, hoping she would stop crying on her own. Of course, that never works when babies are hungry. It got to a point where I didn’t care about anyone else’s judgment and I just fed here then and there.


IT GOT TO A POINT WHERE I DIDN’T CARE ABOUT ANYONE ELSE’S JUDGMENT AND I JUST FED HERE THEN AND THERE.


The most public place I’ve nursed is on the floor of the airport, while my husband was standing in line at the rental car desk, just 10 feet away. There must have been at least 50 people in line, but I had to do what I had to do. I had my blanket ready, but it was more about steeling myself for the task ahead. It all went smoothly enough, but looking back, I should’ve fed her on the flight. Lesson learned!

airport

Keep in mind that, although nursing is perfectly natural and, according to pediatricians, the best method for feeding your baby, others around you may feel uncomfortable if you do so in close proximity to them. Yes, it’s ironic that women can walk around showing cleavage and it’s fashionable, but mothers are given flak for nursing in public.

Do what you can to minimize public feedings, and strike a balance whenever possible, between discretion and the comfort of you and your baby.

Good luck and happy nursing!


What other suggestions do you have for nursing moms? What’s the most unusual place you’ve nursed your baby?


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7 thoughts on “haute mommy how-to: nursing in public

  1. Wow one year! I commend you mommy. I’m at 6 months and trying to ween off. As far as public feeding I’m that mom that doesnt care where I am or who’s around. If my baby is hungry she will be fed. I will not make her suffer for the convenience of others. The only accomodation I do make is to always use a light covering. If anyone has a problem with that they need to take it up with their own imagination because from the outside it looks no different than if she were under there sleeping. Sorry not sorry.

  2. I don’t have kids, but all my friends breastfeed in public. In dining rooms, living rooms, in the park, restaurants, cafés. Where ever we are. Never in a bathroom or hidden away. The more the public understands that feeding a baby is a natural, inoffensive thing to do, the less babies will need to be fed in a toilet. Maybe it is a cultural thing, here in New Zealand it would be offensive to ask a parent to feed their child in a bathroom.

    I wouldn’t eat in a public toilet. Would you?

    • Here in my state, it’s against the law to tell a woman she cannot feed her baby in public. However, personally, I’ve felt a little self-conscious about doing it myself.

      That said, I wholeheartedly agree with your comment. It is completely natural and should be seen as such. There are definitely cultural differences anywhere you go, and if Mom is feeling tense about what she is doing (i.e. feeding in public,) Baby will feel it too, and he/she won’t latch on properly, making everything doubly difficult. That’s even happened at home, if I happened to be in a tense mood.

      For me, the main thing was “just feed the baby and be mentally comfortable, even if I’m physically uncomfortable”. I only realized that after I became a mom. But I’ve always felt proud anytime I saw another mom comfortably feeding in public settings. To each her own!

  3. Too true! Great advice, got caught the other day when I forgot the swaddle blanket and had to borrow a cover from a mom friend. Baby didn’t go for it!! That was a long walk home… eek. But I still think it’s easier for me than bottle feeding, I’m so forgetful that I think we would waste a ton if I left it in the bag overnight, or she’d be hungry if I left it at home. Congrats on surviving a year!

    • I agree, with all the inconveniences of breastfeeding, it’s still way easier than the hassle of preparing a bottle. It was hard for me to “let her go” the first couple days, since there is that emotional bond, but now I’m glad it’s over! We had a good run, so I’m fine with it. 🙂

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