Babies are hungry little beasts!
They don’t care whether you’re sitting relaxed on the sofa (yeah, right) or out buying groceries – when they get hungry, they want milk.
And that means you probably need to get comfy with public breastfeeding – but don’t worry, today I’ve got all the tips you need to rock public nursing without embarrassment or nipple flashes!
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Plan ahead – nurse your baby before you go out
It’s easy to avoid some breastfeeding in public by planning ahead and feeding your baby before leaving the house.
If I’m going out and my baby might get hungry, I feed her just before we leave. This makes it much less likely that I will have to breastfeed in public.
But plenty of times she gets hungry anyway and we have to handle that. Here’s how I breastfeed in public discreetly.
Master breastfeeding in public discreetly
In the early days of my daughter’s life and my son’s I breastfed them a lot in the car if we were out.
Partly this is because I live in a country with a cool climate. Most of the year in Scotland it is simply not warm enough to sit in the open and nurse. Brrr!
So it made sense to keep us both warm by being in an enclosed space and the car was perfect.
The car is also like a little extension of home where I can have some of my things around me.
You could keep a little bag of breastfeeding stuff in there – hand gel and nursing pads, maybe a burp cloth – so that it’s easy and convenient, especially in the early days.
And if you have a car like mine that has window blinds in the back seat, it’s really quite private. If you don’t have any built in, these car window shades are inexpensive and will work just as well!
I love that it’s very unlikely that anybody is going to notice what I am doing when my shades are up.
Use a feeding room
Feeding rooms are awesome if you can find one.
Some wonderful establishments offer special feeding rooms which are separate from bathrooms and changing rooms. These are specially provided for you to feed your baby in peace and privacy and they are wonderful.
You may be able to find one by googling ‘breastfeeding room’ and the name of your local area but word of mouth is even better. If you know other nursing mothers in your area or are in any local Facebook groups, ask around. You might uncover a gem of a location.
Breastfeed discreetly in a restaurant
Cafe and restaurant feeding is another great option for the publicly nursing mama.
I used to find it very embarrassing to feed in such a busy place but I’ve learned to be discreet about it for my own sake and my baby’s.
Sitting at a table in the corner of the restaurant helps and so does sitting in a chair that faces into the corner. That way, my back is to everybody else in the restaurant.
This just makes it that much less likely that anyone is going to notice what I’m doing. And extremely unlikely that they’ll see any breast!
Nursing in public when there’s no privacy at all
Sometimes it happens: baby is hungry and we are out in town or at the beach or just somewhere where there’s no privacy.
So make your own.
A breastfeeding cover will keep your breasts under wraps – and in my case, the dreaded mama belly!
This one is a best seller and it’s easy to see why: it’s cute as a scarf and covers your entire top half while you nurse. Plus it doubles as a cover for your infant car seat!
I know many mothers who love them and for whom the cover was a game-changer.
Use your clothes to stay covered up
I don’t often bother with a cover myself, and that has a lot to do with what I’m wearing already.
Where I live, I usually need a jacket anyway, so I choose a big one. One that will offer enough fabric to hide any side boob (or side belly) that might try to sneak out.
Even when it’s actually warm enough not to need a jacket, I often wear a zip up sweater or a blouse because the open sides will shield my flesh from view while I feed. I actually do this even when I’m nursing at home if I have friends round. If I can avoid flashing flesh, I will.
Under that, either a nursing top – these ones with a flap that lifts up are the BEST! – or a regular top with a vest under it keeps all the flesh hidden.
So once baby is latched on everything is very discreet. But how to latch on without flashing?
How to latch a baby on in public discreetly
So latching on is the bit when there is the highest chance of flashing nipple at a stranger. If that bothers you, here’s how I manage it:
1. Turn your back on the room or those around you if you can – because your boobs are on the front!
2. Hold baby over the breast you plan to use while you unhook your bra. So if you want to feed on the left side, hold your baby in your lap with your left arm around them and unhook with your right hand.
3. Use baby’s head to shield your breast while you open your clothes and prepare to latch on.
4. Quickly move baby onto the breast so their head continues to hide your breast.
5. Practise at home so you can do this entire process quickly and easily.
In this situation, it’s pretty obvious what you’re doing – but I’m usually at the point of ‘Who cares?’ if I’m doing this type of public feeding!
Use the changing room or bathroom
Almost every restaurant, supermarket and shopping centre will have a baby changing room. Often those rooms will have a chair and if so I frequently use them to breastfeed my child.
A room with a chair where there also happens to be a toilet cubicle is better than breastfeeding in the middle of the supermarket – in my opinion.
Make public breastfeeding work for you
So even if breastfeeding in public is something you’d rather not do, it’s totally possible to do it discreetly.
A combination of planning ahead, mastering discreet latching and choosing the right clothes can make a big difference to the way you feel about nursing in public.
And you can always set your car up as a mobile breastfeeding station like I did.