Monday, April 21, 2008

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!

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