Discreet Breastfeeding in Public

Can you tell by some of my recent topics that I'm in the throes of newborn life? :-)

Last night, I sat down and did the math: out of the past 82 months of my life, 80 months have been spent either pregnant or nursing a baby (and occasionally, both). So, while it's on my mind, let me share what I've learned about the "art" of nursing in public.

(1) If you don't feel comfortable nursing in public, that's OK. Just find a corner or a toilet with a lid on it or a nursing lounge (the newer malls that have these are GREAT, aren't they?!), and take care of things there. It's OK to not be comfortable with public breastfeeding, especially in those early times with your first baby, when you're just figuring things out!

(2) Don't let ugly looks or comments from stranger
s get you down! I don't think I'll ever forget my first time nursing in "public"... we were moving from Washington, D.C. to Dallas and Doug was driving a U-Haul cross-country while I flew. After a successful flight with my 5-week old son from Washington to somewhere else (maybe Memphis?), I knew we were nearing the time for him to need to eat. I snuck into a bathroom and found (to my disappointment) that the only place for me to sit was in a little hollowed out spot, up against the wall, supporting him with my legs, JUST in the place where women had to line up to wait for the toilets. Nice. So I did the best I could, covering up with the burp cloth, etc., but of course, as a newly breastfeeding mom, I'm sure more showed than I would have preferred. But I was in a women's restroom, for crying out loud! Well, you'd have thought I was doing something ghastly and evil, from the responses of some of the women! I still remember feeling humiliated by some of their stares, even though I was absolutely committed to nursing and knew they were just poorly informed about all of the *wonderful* benefits of breastfeeding. (Of which I was VERY informed, being a new mom who had voraciously read every single book I could get my hands on about breastfeeding!).

All that to say, I can still remember the glares, so I know how easy it is to feel intimidated about nursing in public. But hang in there. Be as discreet as you can, but don't let others make you feel bad! I'm glad to have not let some silly old biddies change my course-- and I'm thankful to have successfully breastfed each of my kids (so far) for at least a year.

(3) Be as discreet as you can. There's no need to "flaunt it". When we lived in China (and I was nursing our third baby), one of our friends (whose wife was, at the time, expecting their first baby) remarked that he never realized when I was nursing when we went out to eat. I used a cover-up and he was none the wiser. Especially in the beginning, it will take time to get used to breastfeeding (I wasn't that comfortable nursing in public with our first baby), but it can be done discreetly, in a way that won't embarrass you or others.

But once you feel comfortable, and want to nurse in public, here are some ways that you can be discreet about it:

Option #1: Nursing Cover up- The idea with this is that you can wear whatever you want, and just whip out the cover-up whenever it's time to feed the baby. It covers the nursing "area" as well as any tummy area that might show on that side while feeding. Here are some options:
Option #2: Nursing tank bra- The great thing about this is that you can wear it under shirts and it covers up your tummy for you while nursing, while your actual shirt covers up the rest. (Here's another version of that idea.) You don't have to have an additional item (like you would with option #1) with you, and it can be worn under any top. The only potential downside is that it adds another layer, which may not be desirable if you live in a hot area and it's August or something. I've really enjoyed my nursing tank tops, though... they're very handy!

Option #3: Use a blanket. Not that fancy or "hip", but it works. I've never had much luck with this method, as I'm always struggling to hold the baby in the right position when they're a newborn, and once they get older, they can easily pull the blanket off. But my sister-in-law could always do this smashingly, so you may do well with it too.

Anyone else have great ideas or tips for nursing in public? Or do you have any questions about any of this? Fire away, as always-- in the comments box!

Blessings on you and your little ones!


Anna said...

I always used a blanket. In my experience, people were very understanding of breastfeeding in public. I never had any problems with comments or looks from people. My only tip would be to practice covering up at home. That way you can figure out what works for you, and be more comfortable the first time you attempt to breastfeed in public.

Terry said...

Good advice, here Jess. Praying that all is well with you and your new little one. And the rest of your gang, too!

Anonymous said...

What did your husband think of how and where you breastfed at first? How was he won over to the idea of public breastfeeding? Thanks.

Jess said...

Anna Grace,
We talked about it and I was thankful to have his perspective. There were sometimes when he'd be very encouraging and it was totally no big deal, and other times when he'd help act as a human "shield" when I didn't have a sufficient cover/blanket, or that sort of thing. At other times, he was helpful to point out when it might make others uncomfortable and it could be avoided (by going into a back room, etc.).

I think what "won him over" was that he was confident that I would be discreet. We talked about all the benefits of nursing, so he definitely knew all of that, but I'm sure that it helped that I wasn't hoisting my business out all over the place. ;-) He knew I would be careful and not show anything... so I guess information about the benefits of nursing, mixed with my own commitment to discretion made him very supportive.

Did that answer your question? Hope so.

Kara said...

Used...nothing. I found myself making a bigger deal and ending up showing more when I tried to use cover-ups or blankets. I just tried to be careful about what shirts, not so short, so they would cover my side. I did grow up in Africa though...and well, they just pull 'um on out!! People would ask to hold the boys while I was feeding...would talk to them, and I'd have to tell them I was feeding them. My heart really goes out to the ladies I see going into the toilet or some not so nice place, that they don't feel comfortable enough or that they have been hurt by other peoples reaction.

It is OK to decide that you just feel more comfortable yourself, or your baby is just too distracted in public, but I hate to see women who are hiding out b/c of what others think....or what we think they are thinking!!! (I am learning many of my paranoia of what others think about me is a much bigger deal to myself than anyone else...)

Enjoy...all you mommies who are enjoying this time of life right now! I love it!

Jess said...

Wanted to add, Anna Grace, that it also helps to "practice" at home with whatever you'll do when you're out and get your husband to check it out from all angles so that you and he can both be confident that nothing's showing that shouldn't be.

Mrs. Amy Brigham said...

I have never covered with anything per se and have had similar experiences to Kara. (Sean encouraged me to feel comfortable with NIP from the time he first educated me about breastfeeding. Yep, HE was the one who knew more about nursing & parenting in general than me...go figure :P) One time I even latched Peapod while talking to my sister who was sitting directly across from me, and she asked to hold Peapod, not at all aware that Peapod was nursing. We both had a good laugh at that. ;o)

I did use nursing tanks while Peapod was younger and found these really helpful. I also wore button down shirts and unbuttoned from the bottom, rather than the top, thus having a little more "coverage." Wrap dresses worn under a shirt also made for easy access nursing. Now, at seventeen months old, we rarely nurse in public anymore, so I only break out the nursing tank when I know nursing will likely take place, rather than an every day thing.

Johanna said...

I was never shy about nursing in public. I figured that it is the natural way of things and that if anyone did see anything, they would be more embarassed that I would! I always tried to find a spot that wasn't necessarily in the middle of all the action without actually "hiding." I hate missing out on things for so long. It really helps to not have huge boobs! :) Not that you can choose that, but it has been helpful to me. The main thing that helped me was nursing the same at home as I did in public. Rather than let it all hang out at home, I tried to always nurse in a way that would be discrete so that my baby was used to how I was holding him or whatever. As a baby gets older, it is trickier since they like to pull off to look around from time to time, but I tried to keep a cover-up handy for those times. I found that most people thought I was just holding the baby. I even had a person snap my picture while I was feeding my 6 month old because he just thought I was holding him! He never realized what I was truly doing!

Mrs. Amy Brigham said...

I neglected to mention this in my first comment, but I also found my slings and Maya Wrap to be excellent for nursing at home, while out & about, and everywhere else. Baby gets to stay tucked away safely from strangers who think that touching a tiny baby is somehow appropriate (argh I couldn't believe how often people tried to touch Peapod!!), as well as giving baby a place to sleep, nurse, or watch the world around them. The Maya Wrap is espcially nice for NIP as the tail can be thrown over the shoulder for additional coverage, and this tail can also be very nice for keeping sun out of a sleeping babe's eyes, etc.

Janel said...

I've nursed four for about 14 months each in all sorts of places - including at hearings before the Massachusetts health care committee proceedings, on vacation, in restaurants... I found it more discrete to skip the blankets and cover-ups too. Less hassle is always better for me.

I like to wear layers, so it is really easy ("really easy" being subjective, of course) to nurse discretely in public wearing normal clothes. My SIL swears by nursing outfits, although I've never owned or worn any.

I sit cross legged with the baby cuddled and propped up on my crossed leg. Pull up the inner layer, make sure the outer layer is covering my side and ta-dah... It looks like I'm just cuddling my baby.

Either I was really discrete or I was so bold that everyone was too astonished to say anything. With me, it could go either way. ; ) I do know I had the chairwoman of the health care committee commend me that my second son, who was about 6 months at the time, was so incredibility happy and content after being cooped up in the stuffy hearing rooms all day. He never fussed once. All the good breastfeeding no doubt! lol

Jess said...

Thanks for pointing out the "size" issue. I'm definitely on the well-endowed side, especially when nursing, so I've always felt it necessary to cover in some way. But that's a good point, because not everyone would need to, I guess.


Anonymous said...

Hey Jess! You gave some really great tips. I hope they are useful for new mamas out there. I'm an extended breastfeeding mama of four (not all at once! :)) and a La Leche League co-leader (I haven't gone through all the requirements yet to become a full leader). Usually I don't use anything to cover up, but I do love my nursing tanks! Another great option is using a sling! They are easy to use and cover up everything. And you can keep doing what you're doing while nursing. I've nursed while grocery shopping with my Maya wrap!

I don't comment here much (there's usually someone who says what I want to say a lot better!) but I almost always enjoy what you have to say and your heart for the Lord. I did want to say, though, since this is a topic I'm passionate about....Don't nurse in a bathroom!!! Even if there's a lid on the toilet. There are so many germs in there it's disgusting. You wouldn't eat your lunch in a public bathroom, don't make your baby! I always feel so bad for mothers who think that's where they have to go and those poor babies who are taking in all kinds of icky things with their yummy milk. Please don't recommend this to new mamas! There are many, many ways to be discreet, as you so wonderfully mentioned, and I have never had a problem finding a quiet and less-trafficked area in a public place that wasn't the bathroom. Even in an airport and on the interstate.

Thanks for letting me comment. Like I said, I agree with almost everything you've mentioned and I always love your blog posts.


Jess said...

Hey Nancy,
I guess, having nursed in smoggy cities and smoky restaurants in Central Asia, nursing in an American restaurant bathroom just doesn't seem all that bad to me. :)

Note to readers: if you, too, find restrooms disgusting, by all means, nurse elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

I am due any day with my third and wasn't able to breastfeed the first two. I am determined to make it work this time, but I have a lot of worries about the logistics. What do you do when you're driving and the baby is hungry? I also am very large chested and when I give birth they seem to double! Argh! How can I possibly be discreet when I need a queen-sized blanket to cover-up? Anyone have similar issues that they were able to overcome? I'd hate for this to become the reason why I give up trying. Thanks for any advice.

Domestikate said...

Jess, you again hit the nail on the head... balance is the key! In my hometown church (where we attended when my first two children were born) was very open about breastfeeding. The pastor's wife was on La Leche League and was the model for the rest of the moms. I think it was taboo NOT to breastfeed in that environment (which I discovered when my firstborn revolted and would only take a bottle at 4 months old). I know my husband and other men often felt extremely uncomfortable in Bible Studies when a mama would "whip it out" or when her two-year-old would say "booby mommy" and yank on her shirt.

With that experience, I have learned that I need not be ashamed to breastfeed my baby in public, but need to consider how others feel as well. With baby #3 I started training her to get used to a blanket covering her when I nursed even at home, so when we were in public she wouldn't fuss or pull the blanket off. I remember a couple of people commenting they were glad I was breastfeeding, but equally glad that I was discreet. I think it is a balance between giving our babies the best and making sure we are showing respect and kindness to others and not possibly causing a brother in Christ to stumble.

Oh, and I totally think if you are in a woman's restroom you shouldn't feel the need to cover yourself, what's with that?

Anonymous said...

I used a regular ribbed tank top and cut two horizontal slits. This was my homemade nursing and I could wear nursing bras underneath, and my regular clothing over it. The slits have to be "hidden" on the underneath side of your breasts, or else you will have lines show through to your top shirt.

EllaJac said...

I'm pretty large-chested, so I always use a cover-up. I prefer a blanket (but haven't used any other fancy things, either).. in winter, a baby quilt (appx 36"x 45"), in summer a light flannel 'receiving' type blanket the same size. If I'm in a chair or something with a back, I can just throw one corner over my shoulder, lean against it, and let the side hang down to cover my belly/side. I've nursed everywhere with no obnoxious comments (though with my first, nursing around christmastime at the mall, I was just DYING for someone to say something... so I could refer them to the victoria's secret posters and all the skimpily-dressed shoppers before they started with ME. :)).

Jen, I live out in the country, and my 'errand day' is a big day out. I of course try to nurse before leaving, and try to schedule my stops appropriately. If I'm driving a long stretch and baby needs to eat, I just find a place to pull off. Shady, in summer, but wherever (somewhere safe, not a back alley or anything). When possible, I've visited friends who live in town in the middle of my errands, and nursed baby there. Otherwise, I'll just pull into the Costco parking lot and nurse and change baby in the front seat (prevents me from having to pause with a grocery cart full of frozen foods to nurse baby in a display chair!)while my older kids play in the backseat or whatever. For shade/modesty, you can even tuck a blanket edge up into the window to secure it.

Cat said...

Although I definitely don't "flaunt" my body, I normally do not use a blanket or coverup when nursing in public. With my shirt pulled down after baby is latched on I don't think anyone sees anything. When I've tried a blanket I feel like everyone knows exactly what I'm doing under there, whereas without people usually assume the baby is sleeping in my arms.

Tim & Richelle said...

I've breastfed 7 - in all sorts of places and in all sorts of circumstances - the tips that have worked for me:
1) When possible, try to feed baby before leaving or after returning home and then you can avoid the issue, but... there will be times when that is not possible (i.e. an international plane flight, etc.)
2) Find what works for you and each individual baby as far as being discreet. Some things have worked better with different babies. With one, a sling was fabulous. Another preferred a blanket, completely under my shirt and cradled next to my skin. All that to say - if tanks have been great in the past but just don't seem to work now - try something else.
3) Well endowed myself, my preference is a lose shirt or layers with buttons on the top layer that I unbutton from the bottom (as has already been mentioned.) But I've had several that prefer a football type hold to the traditional cradle hold, so the large shirt/layers works well.
4) I am comfortable with what I am doing and try to be discreet - but don't get all flustered if a blanket is jerked or something happens and a little bit of skin is shown. I also try to be sensitive to those around me. While I am confident I can nurse without being obvious, I also don't want to offend if I can avoid it. In other words, while permissibe, in some situations, public BF may not be the best choice.
5) However, there are some situations where it really is the only good choice. Only once have I ever been questioned - with baby #5. I'd taken the kids to the mall and they were playing quietly looking at books while I stopped to nurse the baby (less than 2 mos). The bathroom wasn't an option - I wasn't dragging the whole gang in there with me, and I couldn't leave them alone. A security officer came by, said there had been a complaint and asked if I would move to the bathroom. I was sitting just a few stores down from "V's Secret." I politely told him that it was impractical for me to move with the other 4 children, but that I would be happy to do so if he had said store's advertising posters removed from the windows since they were showing more than I was. He laughed, told me I had a good point and left me alone.

dcrmom said...

Great ideas, Jess. And he's GORGEOUS!

Anonymous said...

Does anyone do the crossover hold? For example, when the baby is latched onto the left side, my left hand holds that breast, while my right supports the baby's head. It is the only way I was comfortable feeding my two boys, but I found it nearly impossible to keep myself covered with a blanket this way. It makes for very awkward public feeding. Any tips for the crossover hold?


Anonymous said...

What a cute cover up that is! I want one and notice it's sold out. I hope there will be more available soon!

Jessica said...

I nursed my son for a year but never in public. I was too scared too and my husband wouldn't have felt comfortable. I had my 3 week old daughter out for the time today and nursed her in a bathroom stall while I was standing up. I got really good at that with my son because I was too grossed out to sit on the toilet or the floor.
I am however, making a nursing cover currently because we are moving overseas and I have a feeling life is going to require me to learn to nurse in public. We have two months of training coming up and I won't have a choice at times. Hopefully I'll become good at it and my husband will be able to deal with it.
Here's a link I found with a little bit of info on how to make a nursing cover that sells for $35.00.

Anonymous said...

Good tips!! I'm in total agreement of what you've written. I have 5 children...baby 1 was breast fed 1 month...he was born early November and there were lots of holiday gatherings where I was constantly being shoved into a cold, back bedroom to nurse. Needless to say, nursing was miserable and I quit. Because of that experience Baby #2 was never breast-fed. Then we had twins and I was more educated and mature and was determined to breast-feed but because I tandem nursed I was never able to nurse in public. Then the Dr. convinced me I didn't have enough milk for 2 babies so I quit @ 3 1/2 months. Now, Baby #5 is 6 months old and we're going strong! I am very confident in nursing and am able to ignore the stares and comments when I nurse discreetly in public...but I am sensitive to the people I know personally and will not nurse if it will offend them in any way...However, I do not shut myself off in another room either...I will usually go to an adjoining room and leave the door open or such.
Ditto to your post!

Jess said...

Here's the link to the rest of her store, where there are currently more (similar ones) available.

Yes, I do the cross-over hold. I think it gives better control of the infant's head when nursing. Maybe that's why I could never get a blanket to work, since it requires both arms to be somewhat available/used.

I've used the snap-over-the-head kind of nursing cover up, and they work great- stay in place, and I've been able to do whatever kind of hold I need under it.


mere said...

Aftre nursing four kiddos I am pretty comfy in just about any setting. Here's one tip I found really helpful:

If you are wearing a button down blouse or dress, don't unbutton from the neck down (which reveals your whole chest) but unbutton from the waist up, leaving the upper most buttons to hold your garment closed. That way if the baby happens to pop off or start wriggling at any time your shirt doesn't fly open. A lot of times I would wear a tank under a camp shirt or a cute vest and that helped a lot with modesty.


Pepperpot said...

Good stuff! I always snicker at the fond memories I have of my 'flingers' - my kids always yanked the blanket off and flung it away, so I gave up on using them. And my current nursling refuses to even let me cover any exposed skin with my shirt, as he likes to keep a hand on his object of affection. They do have their quirky ways! :) thanks for the blog post on this subject; I think every little bit helps to make BFing a more 'normal' thing to society.

Melissa said...

Great post! I am currently nursing my second baby & just now starting to feel comfortable about nursing in public. So far I've just used blankets and tried to weat long shirts to cover my tummy and sides. Thanks for the encouragement!

Kim said...

A friend of mine would always take her baby to the car (with a blanket) if she needed to nurse when they were out somewhere. She was uncomfortable with nursing lounges because at times other husbands would come in there, which she felt was weird and a little inappropriate!

I think definitely, just from a not-yet-a-mom perspective, practicing at home is important, and like you said, wait until you get the hang of breastfeeding before you try any tricks! :) So many people I know don't fully commit to breastfeeding, so when it gets difficult in public, it's another excuse to stop.

OH! Another idea (might have been mentioned, and if so, sorry!) is this: My nephew was four months old when my grandmother died. My sister in law borrowed a faux wrap dress of mine and a shawl (I guess "poncho," but one of the pretty ones) of my mom's...the dress was perfect to allow her to nurse, and the shawl was a perfect built-in cover up. So that's another thought.

I just want to kiss Silas's little cheeks...so do it for me, 'kay?

Kim said...

Oh, and Jen, above - I have a friend who has the same size issue as you. On a road trip with her first baby, she actually just sat next to the car seat, leaned forward, and nursed that way! She said it worked perfectly!

Anonymous said...


Not sure that's a realistic solution when I'm driving! I have a one-year old in a car seat as well and there just isn't room to sit next to either. I use one day each week to do all my errands and to run my oldest to activities so I'm out all day. I'm really worried about how that will work once the newborn arrives. I'm keeping a list of all the suggestions above though, in case I can use any.

Joy said...

'Nother "well-endowed" mama to four breastfed kids here. Each of my kids have been so different in the way they nurse. I've used them all (although, like Jess, I find the blankets don't work well for me at all). The one thing that has been consistent for me through all four of them is a sling- I love the ones from slingling.com (my husband even has his own in a neutral man like fabric!) I've found once you get the one fits you right (and unfortunately this takes a bit of trial and error, but most of the online companies have helpful return policies) it's like having a third hand.

D is 6 months right now and he favored the crossover hold, and it worked wonderfully in the sling. Instead of tucking head into the fabric, swing baby around so that his feet are in the fabric with the head out doing [the crossover hold] just as you would normally (there's actually a great illustration of this on the slingling site). There was enough give in my sling to gently pull the fabric up to were it was blocking any "viewing".

It is so hard for new moms to relax, especially when it comes to BF'ing...but the more you practice and feel comfortable at home, the easier it gets out and about.

Kim said...

Jen - oops! Sorry! I thought you meant on family road trips or whatever. Her husband was definitely driving at the time, just to be sure that's clear. :D

OH well. I tried. :)

Meagan said...

Great topic for mamas with babies! Thanks for bringing it up, Jess. I've learned all sorts of neat tips and I've nursed three babies myself!
I would definitely second the tip someone left about throwing the corner of the blanket over the shoulder, leaning back on it, and then nursing. It really helps to keep your baby from pulling off the coverage mid-feeding. Also, I found that the van was one of the easiest places to nurse. When we'd be out on an errand (just me and the newborn, or all the children), I'd bring a stash of toys/books and a snack and while I nursed, the older ones would have something to do. We would also sing songs, or I'd make up a story to tell them. It made me learn to be flexible and we could stop wherever (almost), park in the back, and feed the baby.
Also, I know some people mentioned not wanted to miss too much, during nursing times if you have to be in another room/space, but I always tried to use that time for me and found it to be a refreshing, relaxing moment. I would pray, or take a book or my bible to read, along with a water, or piece of chocolate, and then the time felt so enjoyable that I hardly noticed I was "missing" the action elsewhere.
Thanks for the links and tips,

Dana said...

Breastfeeding doesn't bother me - it's the whipping it out at the table while others are eating that bothers me! This is an excellent article...if you do it, fine, but I don't think everyone in the room should be forced to watch.

Melisa said...

I just got a chance to read this post - you wrote it the week we moved and I missed it! But, the discussion is fabulous!

I have to second the tucking of the blanket behind the shoulder - my children liked to wave it like a flag when they were old enough to grab it, lol! A definite no to nursing in the bathroom - I always figure no one would give their baby a bottle in there or eat their lunch on the toilet, so my little ones should not have to either.

As for those who thought that they should not have to "watch" a well covered baby nurse, may I humbly suggest that one be considerate and look Away! I am guessing that many have seen much, much worse on the movie screens (and probably their own tv) - and yet watched the whole time. At least nursing is for a child's benefit - dinner! And after seeing how some grown ups eat - watching a baby nurse is well - child's play!

Aimee said...

I'm from Australia, and here breastfeeding seems to be much more encouraged than in the US, so its considered fine to breastfeed in public so long as you are discreet about it. In fact, we have laws agains shopkeepers requesting you to leave if you are breastfeeding (even if not descreetly!) in their shops/cafes!!

One thing I found helpful was using a wrap/lightweight cloth. But instead of covering over from the top (tucking into shoulders and over baby), I would lift my shirt a little, place an edge under the bottom of the bra (or just across my stomach), place baby on the cloth and then wrap the cloth around the baby from the bottom. This makes it a little like a sling, but gives you more ability to see if baby is attaching properly without showing much to others. The cloth is held in place by the hand holding the baby. Once baby has attached you can rearrange the top of the blanket (the opposite end to the one tucked in around your tummy/bra) around baby's head (or tuck over your shoulder) so they can breath and feed easily but you are still covered up.
Also covers your belly nicely which is good for those first few months (or more)! Baby is also less likely to pull cloth off as they do if its drapped over the top of them!
Hope this is helpful and not too confusing an explanation!

Leah said...

I have a friend who, at 23, has two children. I am totally used to seeing women just breastfeeding- I have 3 younger siblings, so I saw Mum do it all the time. Not to mention many of our family friends had families the same age, so I saw those mothers breastfeeding too. So when I saw my friend with a blanket, it actually caught me a bit unawares for a moment. But she handles it really well. I'm constantly amazed at how much fiddling she can do underneath that blanket (esp. when baby is being stubborn) without it moving an inch!

Leah said...

Just on the topic of breastfeeding- one of our Members of Parliament breast-fed her child during a Parliament sitting one day, causing a massive outcry across the country. This of course provoked a counter-outcry saying that she had every right to breastfeed her child if she so desired. By my memory she was very discreet and towards the back of the room, so I really don't see what people's problem was.

Anonymous said...

I've bfed all three of our children and for me, have always had best success with doing it so nobody even notices. In most cases this meant not getting out any extra tools, but really building my wardrobe around what I could wear and still nurse a baby discreetly. To this day I still usually choose a skirt and top over a dress although my current youngest, is past the need to NIP. I used a sling with the second and third, which really made things very simple.

The thing nobody has mentioned, but which was a key strategy that I learned with my oldest, who didn't use a sling, was to make sure to get him latched on before he started crying. If you anticipate the need to feed the baby, you can plan ahead and nobody ever knows he was hungry to start with. Once the baby cries, the mom is more likely to feel eyes on her (whether anyone is watching or not), and get flustered. It also makes it harder for the newborn to latch on, and alerts others to a needy baby, which, when he latches on and is content, makes them look to see exactly what made him quiet so quickly.

As for nursing while running errands, I've also found some pre-planning can make all the difference. We lived in a very rural area when our first child was born, so we had to drive three hours to a city for any shopping. We planned our stops according to his anticipated feeding schedule, and took full advantage of the places we'd scouted out that had a nursing mother's room - even sometimes making an extra stop in order to use one. Of course, the privacy of your own car at a far edge of a parking lot is a great bet too - and we've done a lot of that with the older kids snacking or playing in carseats while I nursed the baby before our next stop.

I have to admit that the irony in Dana's post above caught me off guard when she said that it bothers her when a mother feeds her baby at the table. I thought that was a great introduction to a family eating together! If everyone is eating together and the baby needs to eat, is he not part of the "everyone" eating? I never had any trouble nursing and eating at the same time, nor did I do anything as indiscreet as "flinging it out there" :-)

Thanks for linking back to this great article and the insights in the comments.


Jess said...

Great point, Jessica, about anticipating the baby's need to nurse-- that is a big key to not feeling gawked at!

Thanks for adding your thoughts to the discussion~