Bare it all, or be discreet?

Jenny - posted on 02/03/2010 ( 34 moms have responded )

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When it comes to nursing in public, do you cover up or let it all hang out?? I think I am somewhere in between. I'm nursing my third, so while I try to be discreet, I don't always use a blanket, my babies would just never nurse under it and I spent the whole time trying to keep them from ripping it off, which usually results in me revealing more than I would have without the blanket!
One more question, what do you think about really leaving it all out there. As in bare breast, just hanging there, no baby attached.

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Tommy - posted on 04/14/2013

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I think women who "whip it out" will actually do more to make breastfeeding in public for all mothers discreet or otherwise more acceptable. It kills the shock value. If a baby nursing uncovered in public becomes so common it is no longer an attention getter then a mother who covers will hardly net a glance. As long as mothers yield to societal ideals that says what they are doing is dirty and wrong and needs to be hidden, society will continue to ostracize them. Mothers are going out of their way to respect the opinions and feelings of people who, judging by the ridiculous negative and ignorant comments and comparisons made about breastfeeding, obviously have no respect for them and what they are trying to do.

Tommy - posted on 04/14/2013

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People who make suggestions like nurse in a restroom, cover, etc... should try those things themselves. Take a plate of food into the restroom and eat on the toilet while someone in the next stall is having a b.m. or eat covered up. If you experience those things and you find them to be acceptable then you may suggest them to a nursing mom. I doubt that you will.

Crystal - posted on 03/26/2013

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I have only had to breastfeed a couple of times out in public and i gotta say - how uncomftorable! So I am all for covering up, and being discreet.

Heather - posted on 09/10/2011

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I try to be discreet. Its not always easy though. My first child had trouble at first with breastfeeding and it was not possible for me to cover up with a blanket for a few months. My son has figured it out a lot quicker and I think he will do fine if I need to cover up once we are out and about in public. (he is only 2 weeks old)

Tannisha - posted on 06/08/2011

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Funny that you all should mention nursing in a bathroom stall... I have actually had someone suggest it to me! I met a friend at a Starbucks while my oldest was in her acting class. I had mentioned that I would need to nurse soon and was in the process of pulling out my nursing shawl when he informed me of where the bathrooms were. I was genuinely offended and asked him if he'd like to eat sitting on a toilet! LOL!

[deleted account]

I find it strange that the alternatives seem to be "cover up or let it all hang out." Just going from my experiences in Australia, nobody ever uses one of those cover things you guys keep talking about (and they didn't when I was breastfeeding way back when!), but nor do they let it all hang out. They usually have a top on and just lift it up. The baby covers most of the breast.

In my opinion, If people have an issue with seeing a mother breastfeeding, they've got issues and I wouln't be pandering to them. The more people see mothers breastfeeding, the more normal it becomes.

Jennifer - posted on 02/16/2010

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I try to stay covered just because of my own desire for modesty. That being said, by daughter hates to be covered so I have found ways to keeep myself mostly covered using her, my shirt, and my hand. However, I don't see why it would be hard for a mom to explain what was going on to her child if they caught a glimpse. My little siblings know that "this is how a mommy feeds a baby."

Tara - posted on 02/16/2010

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I was much more conservative with my first... using blankets to cover up if we were in public, or at my in-laws... Now, we just spent a whole day 2 hours away and I ended up nursing my 4.5mth old in IKEA walking around. Now, she was in a sling, so I was somewhat able to cover her, without really covering her (and me) 2nd time around, much easier! Although, she doesn't like being fully covered with a blanket or shirt... so now that I've found this works, I'll be using it everytime we go out!!

Krista - posted on 02/15/2010

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You ladies are lucky that you have some malls and such that offer nursing areas. I personally haven't seen anything like that where I live in Canada. I live in Gatineau, Quebec and I frequently shop in Ottawa, ON as it's just across the river. So, if anyone from my area knows of a mall or such that offers a nursing area please let me know!! Preferably not in a restroom!


Rideau Centre has a nursing room with three private nursing stations, change tables and a microwave. Place D'Orleans, Carlingwood, and Bayshore also have private nursing rooms. I don't know about any others -- that's just what I was able to find on the web.

Personally, it's funny how modest I became. I thought I would be one of those mothers who'd let it all hang out and tell anybody who protested to screw off. But I found myself unexpectedly modest when the time actually came. Part of it is that I have large breasts, so it's really hard to be discreet. And covers and slings were just a royal pain in the ass. I'd use them if company came over, but it just felt really awkward. It was just easier to go to another room instead.

[deleted account]

I don't feel obliged to cover when I'm eating so why should my baby?

I breastfed all three of my daughters for extended periods and didn't bother with a blanket or cape, This was over 20 years ago in Australia, and I don't think I ever received many negative comments. Baby covers the interesting bits, anyway!

I didn't let it all hang out, mainly because I was self-conscious about my flab!

Jodi - posted on 02/14/2010

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I don't let my breast just hang out there if my daughter isn't attatched...not that I have a problem with a woman who does...just not for me. I tried using blankets and covers, but my daughter would have nothing to do with them...so that never worked. I usually layer well, a tank top/cami under my shirt so I can pull my shirt up, the cami down and pretty much everything stays covered!

Last summer (I am MUCH more social in summer, hardly ever leave the house in the winter!) it was so easy to breastfeed discreetly in public because my daughter was at the most 5 months old! Now she'll be over a year and I just know I'm goin to get more looks than ever and be much less discreet! Did I mention I'm the only mother in my town I have ever seen nurse in public???? NOT looking forward to this side of summer!

Cristy - posted on 02/14/2010

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I don't use a cover but I prefer to wear nursing tops while out, For me though it's my big fat gut I want to hide more so than my boobs. I'm definately more embarrassed about my fat.

[deleted account]

I've used a cover before, but like many have said it almost makes it more difficult. I usually just keep a burp cloth in my hand so if she decides to pop off and look around I can cover up. I fully support any mom who nurses in public whether they are covered or not. I wish I saw more moms nursing in public.

Jenny - posted on 02/08/2010

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Ditto on the cami, I like the long ones so they cover my love handles and backside if my jeans ride down. I think I'm more concerned about my butt hanging out than my boobs. :)

Kendra - posted on 02/08/2010

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I nurse in public all the time. Tatum hates being covered up. I usually wear a cami under a regular t-shirt or sweat shirt so that the shirt on top covers the top of my breast and the cami can easily be pulled down.

[deleted account]

You ladies are lucky that you have some malls and such that offer nursing areas. I personally haven't seen anything like that where I live in Canada. I live in Gatineau, Quebec and I frequently shop in Ottawa, ON as it's just across the river. So, if anyone from my area knows of a mall or such that offers a nursing area please let me know!! Preferably not in a restroom!

I'm not against anyone BF'ing in public, hell if you've got the cahones to do it I'm jealous!! lol I'm just one of those shy types that prefers not to do it in public. Not because I would get dirty or disapproving looks because I do have a mouth and a scathing wit that I'm not afraid to use...lol. I'm just more comfortable being discreet.

Geralyn - posted on 02/07/2010

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I personally cover up unless I am sitting in the car.... I am not one who likes to expose her wears.... I would never work at Hooters, let's just say that much.... lol.... When my son was smaller, the "Hooter Hider" worked well for us, and the wire at the top kept the cloth from getting in his face. When he got older, he didn't want the cloth on him. I have breastfed under a blanket at tables at restaurants, when desperate in restrooms, but usually in the car. For future kiddos, I am going to use one of the baby slings - preferably one you can BF in without exposing yourself.

As far as what other women do, I fully support BF'ing in public - covered or uncovered, whatever they are comfortable with. I definitely think that there should be more BF'ing lounges at malls, etc., to make it more readily acceptable. Our mall put in a whole wing with children's stores, and maternity stores. I asked about BF'ing accommodations, and they said "Ooooh, no.... there is nothing like that..." I retorted that the wing must have been designed by a man.... There should have been. I am in CA (US), and Nordstroms in the only store that I know of (besides some of the family-owned baby stores) that has a nursing lounge. The Pottery Barn has a bathroom, which is way better than shuffling the baby across the mall to go to one of those disgusting public bathrooms (which is why normally I opt for our car...). Other than that, there is no other store that accommodates BF'ing moms....

April - posted on 02/07/2010

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my son would never use a cover. and it wasn't that he wanted to look around. he just literally wouldn't nurse unless i took the nursing cover or blanket away. once it was out of sight, he'd latch on. (i lived with my in laws and tried using the cover for their benefit)



i don't feed my son on a set schedule but I usually run errands around the same time everyday and we are gone less than 2 hours, so we don't nurse in public (he refuses. i have tried a million times)



i am not the world's most coordinated person so sometimes people may have been exposed to my chest area in my attempts to feed my son. i don't think it is any big deal if it is an accident.

Jenny - posted on 02/05/2010

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I agree Lisa, it is so sad when a mom stops nursing early because she is afraid of other people's reactions if she nurses in public.

Jessica - posted on 02/05/2010

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I'm personally a wimp so I use a cover, and it works out fine. My son likes to pull off a lot to look around, so there ends up being a lot exposed and I'm personally justmore comfortable with the cover. I don't care if others don't though, and I don't think anybody should feel like they "have" to. The way I see it- its just a boob, if you catch a glimpse of it you'll be fine, I promise. If nothing else, don't stand there and stare, kwim? Its that simple. You're just feeding your child, nothing lewd or inappropriate. But I think it all boils down to what you're comfortable with!

[deleted account]

It sort of depends on where I am.
If I am in a restaurant, I try to be discreet, out of respect for others who may not be educated in breastfeeding.
Living in the south with the common american redneck, I have grown numb to the redneck mantra of "show me ya tits" My rule is, if ya saw em before I had the baby, I don't care if ya see em now.

Tarah - posted on 02/04/2010

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i dont cover with a blanket but i try to feed somewhere that noone can see me and i try to be descreet i dont want ppl staring at my boobs but if i had to feed baby in a crowded area i would

Minnie - posted on 02/03/2010

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I'm probably in between, but not by any real conscious effort on my part. I prefer to wear a tank top under my outer shirt and pull up the outer shirt and the top of the tank down. But if I'm wearing a v neck I usually just pull my breast out of the top...so I really don't know, lol.



I don't use a cover.



What do I think about really leaving it all out there? I see no problem. I've probably flashed the entire establishment more than once when my daughter decided to unlatch and look around. Breasts are for feeding babies. Not for titillating men. Who cares how a mother chooses to nurse her baby? What makes me mad is a mother who is afraid to nurse her baby in public and chooses to hold her baby off from nursing until she gets a chance to hide. No mother should have to feel like that's how it has to be.

[deleted account]

I'm discreet, but I don't use a cover up. It's quite easy to hide what little chest I have.....

I think it's important to be as discreet as possible, but little ones don't always cooperate w/ that. :)

[deleted account]

I haven't really nursed in public yet, so I guess you can call me a conservative on this subject. I feed on a schedule as well (not strict but a schedule all the same) so I am able to plan an outing around the feedings. My son takes the bottle as well so I am able to express milk and bottle feed him if I know we'll be out when he's due for his next feeding or if he decides he's hungry early. If we ended up breast feeding in public, which will probably happen soon, I would cover him with his blanket. He's used to it when we have company and I have to feed him I usually cover him up while doing so.

[deleted account]

I feel we should be discreet for the sake of others around us. I'm not talking about always using a nursing cape. If your baby's head covers your boob, good enough. But just to leave it all hanging...no. Unless it was an accident.

Cassie - posted on 02/03/2010

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I was an in between nurser too. I also fed on a schedule so it was usually pretty easy to just plan an outing based on her feeding schedule. There were a few times that I did have to nurse in public, like when we spent the day at the zoo. I always made sure to wear my nursing tank so that my stomach and sides were never exposed and then I would wear a shirt that was loose enough to drop down onto Kiera's face. She would never allow me to nurse with a blanket or cover on but I would never just expose my whole breast. I was able to unlatch the nursing tank with my shirt covering it then quickly latch Kiera on without exposing anything.

Nicole - posted on 02/03/2010

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I've only fed in public a handful of times and had one bad experience... so I have little to go on. I do try to cover, but he likes to look around. I just try to be discreet and layer my clothes so no skin is showing. He is so easily distracted though, that I know it's only a matter of time before he spits me out to yell at someone or something... and there... I will be exposed!

Shelley - posted on 02/03/2010

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i feed on a schedual so i can usually avoid the issue but i don't mind feeding in restaurants ect i always use a wrap also in front of family (men) i use a wrap i don't mind if other people feed openly in public but i feel uncomfortable to do so.
i understand from a mother and babies perspective that a baby needs to be fed but i also think we should be sensitive to others around us and their feelings. i would never feed a baby in a toilet cubical though

Amythyst - posted on 02/03/2010

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I'm also somewhere in between. My daughter hates to be covered up. However I remember when I was about 7 months pregnant I was out shopping and I went to the restrooms and sitting on a bench in the hallway outside was a woman totally topless with a toddler climbing up beside her. I was shocked and didn't know what to say or do, especially when she just moved her diaper bag to the other side and offered me a seat beside her like it was the most natural thing in the world. I felt like i was the one exposed. Now after breastfeeding for a year I can understand why the woman was sitting there in the open, it is natural to breastfeed and I am not going to hide in a bathroom stall (gross!). But neither can I 'bare all' like the woman I saw that day. Most places do have nursing rooms available; however, for places that don't such as parks ferries etc I plan ahead and wear button down shirts and nursing bras, only letting out one breast at a time and once my daughter's eating, no one would be the wiser. I was once feeding her at my mother's this way when my younger brother came home and sat down next to me and started chatting away thinking she was just sleeping:) I'll never forget how quickly his face turned red when I informed him what was going on..(he's 16).

I also will feed her in the car before going into a store etc. I usually find that trying to get her to keep a blanket over her is impossible and having her waving it around just draws more attention so i wear a light sweater or dress shirt so i can just pull the one side over while manuevering her on and off the breast to try to lessen the little 'peep shows' that occur.

Melissa - posted on 02/03/2010

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I prefer to be covered, although my daughter does not. I posted a story about our first very public feeding. I agree with you both, where I have no desire to see anyone else's or show mine, my first priority is getting my little girl fed. She let's it be known that she's hungry and the mommy person AINT MOVIN FAST ENOUGH...you don't want to be on the receiving end of one of her outbursts :)

Courtney - posted on 02/03/2010

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I use a blanket or a nursing wrap. In my opinion, I don't like looking at bare boobies in public, so I don't think people should have to see mine. Choosing to breastfeed is one thing, showing the whole boob in the process is another. If I know my son is hungry before I walk into a store, I'll breastfeed him in the car before we go in. I have on occasion, breastfed my son as I was walking through a store with a blanket thrown over my shoulder.

Cori - posted on 02/03/2010

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i am guilty of my boob just hanging out in public, only once or twice.. usually after baby has ripped off the blanket (he hated being covered) and i was still fussing around looking for the pad or trying to find the hook to re connect my bra... oh well all i have to say is if you are looking then GOOD for you! you got a free show... all that mattered to me was that my son was fed and happy. and of course, we all try to be discrete but in actuallity my main concern is keeping my son happy because i would rather a little booby popped out for a couple seconds than my son was hysterically crying in the middle of a restraunt! i think that more people look for a crying baby than a silent, fed and happy one..

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