I was eating lunch today out with the kids. Just the kids. My almost 2 year old daughter and 2 month old son. It was actually a pleasant lunch at my favorite Vietnamese restaurant when N started getting squirmy. He seems to have an internal detector that wakes him up as soon as I get a nice tasty meal in front of me and at that instant he NEEDS TO NURSE NOW. I love babies. I also love enjoying a WARM meal without crying so I lifted up my shirt and latched him and continued to eat my lunch with chopsticks while nursing!
I felt like such a bad ass, I have to tell you. When E was a new baby I was very nervous about nursing in public. I had the nursing cover but would still try to avoid nursing in public whenever possible just because I felt I would be shunned by society. That people would give me nasty looks. They would judge me. I felt insecure and unsupported. I even had friends who gave me funny looks for very discreetly feeding E in public.
But what are you supposed to do? Pump a bottle and carry it around with you hoping you don’t have to use it while your breasts get engorged and want to explode?
No, you don’t have to do that if you don’t want to.
Nursing at the Zoo
In 45 states there are laws that allow woman to nurse in any public or private location. So unless you are in a very un-progressive state you can feed your baby wherever you have a right to be. To see a full list of state breastfeeding laws read this.
Here is a good page for Colorado specific laws. I have to say I am pretty impressed by the very positive light the Colorado legislature puts on breast-feeding as not only a women’s rights issues, but a public health issue. Go CO!
I would like to note that I think it is important more woman nurse in public, to normalize the breast-feeding experience, and to encourage other woman who may need some help or support from other nursing mothers. There is support out there for nursing mothers! I highly encourage getting the book by La Leche League “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding” which helped me as a new and clueless mom find ways to nurse my child that worked for me. I also suggest going to La Leche League groups and finding other nursing moms or moms who have nursed who can give support and advice.
Now some easy tips for nursing in public!
- Wear layers. A nursing tank under a larger shirt gives you the option to lift your top shirt without showing off your belly which has oh so recently carried a child. Then when you un-clip the nursing tank and latch on your top shirt will be covering the top part of your breast. No peek a boob (unless you want that).
This is my favorite nursing tank. I am plus sized with large breasts and a long torso. This tank covers my stomach, covers my breasts without any spillage, and fits like a glove. You can wear it without an over shirt! I have had mine for over 2 years and they are still in great shape.
- Use a cover. If you are a pro you can easily latch your child under the cover and nurse. I know a lot of people who love using covers. I personally do not use covers because I think it shouts “I AM FEEDING THIS BABY NOW” a lot more than just lifting my shirt and feeding the baby. I also have to be able to see the baby latch otherwise things get frustrating for both of us. Once the baby gets a little older they will try to play peek a boo with the cover, or just throw it off to look around. This could cause issues when they throw off the cover and unlatch to smile at that stranger who is staring at you.
- If you are nursing in public use nursing pads to prevent leaking through your bra/shirt. I love this brand. If you are using disposable breast pads, use one with a sticky back so they will stay put.
- Nurse in a baby carrier, a sling, or a wrap! There are you tube videos and instructional on just about every carrier/wrap website on how to nurse in a sling or wrap. I wish I could figure it out! My friend can nurse her toddler in her ergo without anyone noticing. I am very jealous.
- Be calm and relaxed and continue with what you were doing. Having a conversation with a friend? Keep on chatting. Eating lunch with chopsticks? Go for it. If you are doing what you would normally do when holding a sleeping baby people will look at you, smile, and go on their way. I have had whole conversations with complete strangers who didn’t even realize I was nursing.
- Know that what you are doing is best for you and baby. That confidence will carry you a long way. Also knowing the state laws regarding breast-feeding can give you the security and confidence you need to feed that hungry baby.
I have gotten some weird looks while nursing in public, but I have also gotten supportive smiles, comments about the beauty, health, and vitality of my babies, and made some new friends! And you will get a lot less nasty looks for nursing in public than you will for having a screaming baby who is ANGRY and HUNGRY NOW. You know how that goes.
What are some of your tricks for nursing in public? Have you had any good or bad experiences? I would love to see a community of support here and on my Facebook page!
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