Thursday, November 17, 2011

Breastfeeding Series part 3 - Nursing in public

I had been a pretty modest person, but when I gave birth and started breastfeeding that all went out the window. It is a natural thing, and although I do my best to cover up, accidents happen. The good news is the people that have seen something are either female family members or people we will never see again.

Because breastfeeding didn't come super easy to G, I was pretty inflexible with where we nursed. Once I found a spot to feed her that worked for us, I was scared to change it. We would sit in a chair in our living room--me propped up with pillows and a foot "stool," and G propped up with her BreastFriend pillow. I didn't think I could nurse anywhere else.
I really tried to avoid going places for the first month. I know that sounds pitiful, but nursing was a hassle in the beginning. I got anxiety when it came to feeding G anywhere besides our nursing chair. Eventually I had to go to appointments, not to mention I was ready to start having a life again. I would try to feed the baby before we left, but usually she would get hungry out and about.

So how have I handled nursing in public?
I'd often feed her in the car or a private room so that I didn't have to cover up. I hate nursing with a cover over us because I get hot, she tries to pull the cover off, or gets distracted and pops off in the middle of a letdown. In the beginning, I used a burp rag or blanket to shield people from getting a full frontal. I'd have to try to hold the cover, cover the milk spray, and hold the flailing baby. It was a disaster and I would be so stressed by the time we got home, I just wanted to collapse in a pile on the floor.

Thankfully, my friend let me have her "Hooter Hider" about 3 months in, and nursing in public got a little bit easier. I don't get nearly as flustered as I used to. I think nursing in public gets easier as you get more comfortable with breastfeeding in general. Your baby gets better at it, and you get into the swing of things, nursing any and everywhere doesn't seem so daunting. If you are a new mom, who is pretty freaked out about going anywhere with a nursing baby--just know it does get easier! Something that really helped me get over the hump, besides time, is hearing that most people would rather see a woman feed her baby than have to listen to the baby cry.
Nursing G on our Mother's Day walk
As G has gotten older, I rarely nurse anywhere except at home because she's spaced out her feedings enough that we can get a lot of errand running done between nursing sessions. She's also really easy going-- if she does get hungry--she can wait until we get home. The downside to nursing her mostly at home is that she doesn't eat well elsewhere because she is too interested in everything else around. As other moms of distractible infants will agree, nursing in a dark and quiet room is the only way to get 5-12 month old babies to eat well.

Places we have breastfed:

in front of a street side window at a restaurant
sitting in a front row aisle seat on a Southwest flight, she was latched on for pretty much the whole flight
a Target dressing room
in the quiet room at church
in the narthex at church
in the car, leaning over G's carseat while my husband drives
in the car, parked in the front and back seats
on the couch, sitting or laying down
in bed, sitting or laying down
laying on the floor
sitting on the floor
in a room at the doctor's office
in a private room at my midwife's office
in the chiropractor's office, and he walked in while I wasn't really covered up...whoopsies
at a picnic table along a walking trail
at a friend's house on the couch
at a friend's house in a room
at a friend's house in a chair, while everyone else socialized around us (very proud of her for this)
at my friend's parents house
at my husband's cousin's house
at my parent's house
at my in-laws
at my aunt's house
at my grandpa's house
in a hotel room
at my in-law's river camp, in a tent
in a bedroom at my husband's grandparent's house
at my favorite restaurant, Flat Branch
at a Crackerbarrel
in countless gas station or grocery store parking lots

and the most awkward but necessary place:
During G's baptism right in front of everyone, including the priest, during the renewal of baptism promises. My sister and husband held up a cloth to shield us, but I was still very flustered. I had fed G at home and at the beginning of mass, but she was going through a growth spurt and wouldn't stop screaming during her baptism until I fed her. We couldn't leave, because the baptism rite had to continue since another family was getting baptized at the same time. G ate enough to get through, and the rest of her baptism was beautiful, but all I can really remember of such a blessed event is the anxiety I felt while nursing her in front of our priest! He told me it was okay, and said he'd rather her eat than cry...so I fed her.

Perhaps you are wondering why I didn't pump and bring a bottle to her baptism... because we had already returned that hospital grade pump and I ran out of time to pump manually before we had to leave. I thought that feeding her at home and the beginning of mass would be enough. In general, I never really pump and bring a bottle anywhere because G never liked taking a bottle, so it was a waste of milk anyways.

To be honest, I really don't care if someone sees something anymore. I thought that I would care a lot, but now that I'm here...nope. If I am nursing my daughter, the most important thing on my mind is making sure she isn't hungry anymore--not if you see a flash of breast. Sorry.


  1. I have never cared about someone seeing anything they shouldn't. I will nurse anywhere whenever my girl is hungry. Hubby however, is another story. He would prefer we be a private room with no chance of anyone seeing anything.


  2. You know, my husband is the same way! I think my feelings toward the subject are heavily influenced by his opinions. I think any "need" to cover up comes from knowing he prefers that. I love him, but let him try to do it!! ;-)

  3. It really does get easier the more you do it! I nursed my oldest for about 14 months, my second child for right at a year & just weaned my youngest at almost 18 months. By the time I'd had her, nursing in public was second nature. With my son I was so worried someone *might* see something & be offended I tried really hard not to nurse in public. With my youngest though, we nursed everywhere & I'd pretty much quit using a cover. I think it drew more attention to me than anything else, but in the beginning it was a sort of security blanket for me. And I'm pretty sure my husband preferred me as covered up as possible too!

  4. Oh I LOVE how you made a list of all the places you've breastfed! I should make one too -there are some impressive ones lol.

    I was SO nervous that I was going to have to breastfeed Cupcakes during the baptism because it was only 24 days after she was born. I didn't but I did have to scarf down a breakfast bar in front of the priest after the Mass but before the baptism - you know how hungry breastfeeding can make you, right??

    For Love of Cupcakes


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