HELP! I cannot breastfeed in public! HOW DO YOU DO IT?

Amber - posted on 02/03/2009 ( 31 moms have responded )

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My son and I use a boppy pillow every time we breastfeed at home. We use the football hold. Do you have any suggestions on how to feed in public? Latching on in public is hard because I feel so exposed. Does any one have suggestions on how to make breastfeeding in public more comfortable?

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Samantha - posted on 02/05/2009

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Hi there, I'm not really a responder, but I felt compelled to respond this time. I felt the same way, I couldn't figure out how I would ever breastfeed in public. I use a Jolly Jumper babysitter pillow (like the Boppy pillow) at home and always the cradle hold. (We could never get the hang of the football hold.) Also, I had major problems getting our daughter to breastfeed in the first place ... turned out a nipple shield was the answer, and is my miracle. At least I'm not pumping or worrying about bottles!



ANYWAY, the first thing I try and do is try and time the outing until before or after a feeding. Secondly, if I have to feed her while out, then my goal is to feed her in the car. And, for a car feeding, since it's an awkward space, I would advise you choose your better side (we all have those) so it's more comfortable for you and your baby in the awkward car space. I choose my right side and she's in the cradle position. So, I hold her bum up with my left knee & left arm and hold her head/neck with my right hand. She usually goes to town, after she's done being distracted by being in the car.  The other option is, if you're in a mall, and a decent one, they might have a breastfeeding area -- I was at one recently and they're really nice and comfy. There's usually comfy chairs and a changing area (NO, I would never change my child in a public restroom, those are laiden with germs).



If you don't have the car option or a breastfeeding room option, then find a bench/chair in a quiet place, get one of those breastfeeding coverups (they usually latch around your neck and hang loose over your front) and feed your baby. And that's exactly it ... always remember, you are FEEDING YOUR CHILD. No more, no less. I know it's not something usual — to expose your breast in public — but you're not doing it for a public sex show, you're feeding your child, and people are just going to have to live with it. I don't know about where you are, but here in Ontario (Canada), there is a law that states women can breastfeed their babies wherever they want. It's a very good law.



Anyway, try that and see. Try the car first. Once that works a couple of times, you'll gain confidence. You'll see. Nowadays, I wouldn't dare pump, I would rather feed in the car than pump a bottle.



Good luck!!!!

Brandi - posted on 02/05/2009

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When I know that I will most likely feed in public I always wear a nursing shirt. ( or an easy access one) I also take a blanket with me. I cradle hold for public feedings and cover up with a blanket! I'm pretty discreet, so I will even do it at the restaurants! LOL. Good luck to you.

Colleen - posted on 02/04/2009

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I practiced in the mirror for a while before I got the hang of it, and now it is no problem.  I am able to fairly discreetly nurse my 10 month old anywhere and everywhere.  I do find the cradle position much easier for discreet nursing in public, and I always wear a sweater that zippers or buttons down the front over another shirt so when I pull up my shirt my sides stay covered.  I've had full conversations with folks who, at the end of the chat said, "have you been nursing the whole time?"  I think it just takes practice - and not being too worried about the occasional shirt-pull-up-mishap... I think the less worried you look, the less folks notice what's going on.  You can do it!  Good luck!  



 

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C - posted on 02/05/2009

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When I was at the mall for example, I would just slip into a dressing room of a ladies store (Ann Taylor was very understanding with me) and that provided privacy.  If we were at a restaurant sitting at a booth, I would just hold my son on the inside of the booth with a blanket over my shoulder.  You could also put a boppy in your car and just step out to feed there as well.  Just a few examples of what I did.  I usually just threw a blanket over my shoulder. Hope that helps a little.

Melissa - posted on 02/05/2009

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Nursing tanks are awsome way to hide your stomach. I have a nursing wrap as well but my daughter hated having it over her head. I usually pump when I go out now because she doesn't nurse well when distracted and she is distracted by everything!

[deleted account]

Emily: That is a sad irony indeed. My school is very small, but it is a private Catholic women's college. We also have a computer lab/study area adjacent to a play room for the kiddies. It's really nice. I also had a prof who otld me one of her former students would nurse during class breaks, but once just brought the babe along and nursed in the back row DURING CLASS! That is one awesome teacher.

Emily - posted on 02/04/2009

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Quoting Alexis:



At the college where I take classes, they have a lactation room, complete with pump and a rocker. You never know!





 



This actually reminded me. I just thought I'd share a piece of irony. I graduated from an extremely conservative University just before my first was born. After she was born I was a teaching assistant for one semester, so I just took her with me to class and answered questions. The tests were all scantron stuff and I didn't have to do any grading... super easy job. :) 



Anyway, I majored in Marriage, Family and Human Development and the course I was a TA for was in the BRAND NEW Family Sciences building... a building frequented by women and young moms trying desperately to finish their degrees. I should mention again that this was a BRAND NEW state-of-the are building... it had the best of the best in everything... the best kitchens for Food Sciences, the best sound systems in the auditoriums, in-ceiling projectors in EVERY classroom, dozens of offices for professors, wireless internet through the whole building, as well as ethernet ports about every 10 feet along the walls of every hallway. It also had a gorgeous courtyard with fountains, grass, small tables to study at or eat lunch or whatever... it was really a beautiful building. It even had an art gallery in one of the upper floors, with panoramic windows and a great view of other parts of campus.



But, the only thing the building was lacking was a mother's lounge... In the entire building there was not one private room set aside for a mothers room... I should also mention at this point that there are nursing rooms available throughout the rest of campus... in the main student building, in the math & sciences building, there's even a special room with couches and rocking chairs in the ENGINEERING building. I thought it was a bit ironic that all the places traditionally frequented by male students were the main places on campus with mother's lounges... but the building specifically set aside for family sciences, and the one most frequented by young mothers... had none. 

User - posted on 02/04/2009

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I can'teither! but i have this shawl that u put over ur head and like apron but cool and so u can breastfeed in public used this one it is out in the store like Target , Walmart and burlington etc.. and is under $10 i have it since my first baby. Another thing i wear a shirt that is loose or button down easy to snap...BTW, i saw someone like yesterday in the mall a mom breastfeeding in a bench and it is in open area...it is legal but it is just me i can't do it...

[deleted account]

You might also try being stratgeic about where you do errands. If you are going to a mall, check the dept. stores to see if there is a "lounge." The Macy's, Bloomies, and Nordstrom near me all have mother's rooms with comfy chairs for nursing. The co-op I buy groceries at has a sign saying a nursing room is available upon request. Babies r us stores always have a nursing room. And often, if you ask the right person, you might just find a private spot in a lot of places you wouldn't expect. I second the dressing room idea (also, at Old Navy, they have special dressing rooms for moms--they are bigger and have (often filthy) play mats for the kiddos). It never hurts to ask. At the college where I take classes, they have a lactation room, complete with pump and a rocker. You never know!

Erin - posted on 02/04/2009

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You can buy a cover that is easy to sling over your head.  You can get them at target for about $12.  I take mine with me wherever I go.  As much as I believe that we should nurse in public without worrying about what the ignorant people think, I also feel uncomfortable sometimes.

Terri - posted on 02/04/2009

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there are really great nursing clothes that show nothing and are very decreet. Check out motherwear or Boob or motherhood maternity for nursing clothes. Good luck!

Tammy - posted on 02/04/2009

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Easy and cheap.  Thread a corner of the babies banket under  your bra strap on theside she is nursing from.  Get ready under the blanket and latch the baby on!

Gemma - posted on 02/04/2009

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I used to feed my first daughter in the football hold, I would use my pram bag as a pillow to rest her on. Having a blanket or a muslin to drape over yourself can help you feel less exposed. I think It's one of those things Its so hard to do the first time, but once you've done it once it doesn't seen so bad. Why don't you try practicing feeding discretely at home so you'll feel more confident when you out.

Donna - posted on 02/04/2009

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depending on where you are sitting you can use your diaper bag for arm support like the boppy with a small baby that helped me. It works well in a dressing room. After five-six months they start being able to almost sit in your lap and nurse it makes it a lot easier in public.

Tatham - posted on 02/04/2009

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when i'm in public i use a blanket..and i wear a nursing tank so my tummy isn't exposed. i try to time my outings around his feeding schedule, but its not always easy so if he has to eat then he gets to eat..and if people have a problem with that, oh well...i try to be discreet about it, but not all places make that easy..the only place that actually makes it easy is the one mall by my house that has a family bathroom with a room in it for nursing mothers...why can't most places have that

Katy - posted on 02/04/2009

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First off, there are tons of great suggestions already posted-

I purchased a Moby Wrap (www.mobywrap.com) for trips to the mall, around the house and other errands. My son would cry not to be held, and was very sensitive. So, when I would take him out to nurse, I left the fabric dangling around to conceal me a little bit. And like Tegan, I was more concerned with my tummy showing than my breast! haha!

I also invested in a couple really good nursing tanks to layer under a regular shirt. (button down works great until you are comfortable)

Keep in mind, you and baby will get more comfortable as the weeks progress. My son would somehow just find the nipple without me paying attention. But before we got good at it, I always had a blanket or burp cloth handy to put near my nipple to "fool" any on lookers. Also, talking, cuddling and stroking his hair always calmed me down to forget where I was.

Me now? Just yesterday we nursed in the middle of Nordstoms in between trying on shoes. No burp cloth, no blanket. Yes I still love my nursing tank! (I'm still hiding the belly) But complete comfort and a happy smiling baby afterwards. Good Luck!

Mary - posted on 02/04/2009

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I totally understand, I did it myself for the first time the other day. I bought a nursing canopy from walmart that goes around your neck like a shirt, so much more comfy than a blanket. I just crossed my legs and rested his little head on my knee (with a blanket under his head) It is a little uncomfortable the first time, but I am sure with practice it gets easier!!

Alicia - posted on 02/04/2009

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Hi.  It is something that takes getting used to...lifting one's shirt in public is very unnatural and definitely the latching on part is the most difficult to hide--that does get easier as they get older.  The advice I got when I was first in fear of pulic nursing was PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE.  Try not using the Boppy sometimes at home.  Sit in a regular kitchen chair, in front of a mirror or have someone watch you and let you know where and when you are exposed.  Figure out what works for you and your baby.  Get to the point where YOU feel comfortable and then it will give you more confidence when in public and less concern about what others think.  I also choose my seat at a restaurant with care...Trying to pick my seat based on what side I'll be nursing so as to be discreet (booths are great, so I ask for one when I can).   And I never leave the house w/o a nursing tank.  Not having to worry about belly makes it easier.  Target sells them near the nursing bras and they are comfy and inexpensive.   

Christa - posted on 02/04/2009

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When my guys were tiny it was complicated - more so with my first - not sure if it was him or me! You can cover up well using one of the bebe aulait/hooter hider nursing covers in any position. I also try to wear one of the nursing tanks with another shirt over it when I'm going to be out (preferably a top that crosses over) that way I didn't have to lift anything to nurse - just pull the shirt to the side and lower the flap on the tank. Totally discrete - no belly showing. Then I'd use the hooter hider to cover up. It's actually a little more tricky now b/c my little one is 6 months and is a mover! The cover up is still nice though (when I can keep it on him) b/c it keeps him from being distracted by what is going on around us. It's funny. I was a lot less daring about nursing in public with my first. I nursed in the car most of the time. But with my second - we're out doing stuff all of the time, and the little guy has to eat! I actually sat on the floor in the mall on Sat and nursed while my husband had our 3 year old on the rides. Oh - not sure of what climate you're in, but instead of hauling the boppy with me in public, I've used the jj cole bundle me: I would zip off the top, roll it up, and use it like a boppy. Or you can roll up a coat or a blanket. You'll get there. It just takes practice and patience.

Emily - posted on 02/03/2009

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I don't usually nurse in public before we master the cradle hold... usually around 6 weeks. I prefer the football hold for newborns also, as it was way easier... but the cradle hold has been essential for discreetly nursing in public. Slings are great, though personally, I've never been able to nurse in them. I do use them as a nursing cover though when my babies are young. Once my kids reach about 6 months I feel totally comfortable nursing with no cover at all... they latch well enough that I don't have to see everything, so I don't flash anything when they're latching. But before that... I do use blankets, slings, etc to cover... or find a more private place (like a dressing room) to nurse. I refuse to use a bathroom for that though...

[deleted account]

When shopping, pop into a changing booth/dressing room if you can.  I try to cross my legs or raise them to help support a smaller baby.  I usually just throw a blanket over my shoulder, but as baby gets bigger you have to use a bigger blanket and be prepared that they could move it (I'm always looking out to make sure baby doesn't pull it off.)  A sling is a good idea, or you can wear a big/wide scarf as an accessory and then use it to cover when needed.

Sonya - posted on 02/03/2009

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i'm still the same, i do not like to nurse in public. Not for the sake of others "complaining or lookin" but just my personal feelings. I just make sure to time my outings around feed times, or if she is hungry I make my way to the car or a more secluded spot. I always ask for a booth when eating out and wear simpler clothing. I also have a hooter hider I use when visiting relatives and inlaws...i got it at target.

Sasha - posted on 02/03/2009

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oh boy- all the fun creative ways:) My favorite was this: first thing, nursing tank- bravada is my favorite- any stretchy shirt over that- then- I'd have the kiddo in a sling, with the ring side actually supporting his heiny, and his head in my other elbow. Bebe Au Lait/Hooter Hider cover over that- Grocery shopping, checkout, restaurants, wherever. And people were SO nice- especially if they see a little set of feet sticking out one end- Good Luck! and have fun!

Tegan - posted on 02/03/2009

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I wear nursing tanks every day. I'm more worried about someone seeing my stretchmarked stomach than my boob. LOL If its hot, I just wear the tank and if not, a shirt over it. I also made myself a hooter hider that I use all the time mostly for other people's sake. LOL



You just have to do it. And really, who cares what other people think? You are feeding your child. Just keep that in mind and your confidence will grow. :)

Sharon - posted on 02/03/2009

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I had the same problem when Aiden was little.  I found that as he got a little older, it was easier to use the other breastfeeding holds with him.  I took my Boppy with me where ever I went and nursed in the car, because I felt very uncomfortable in the early days having my breast exposed while struggling to get a good latch.  I just practiced at home without the Boppy and started nursing in public once we were good at it.  Hopefully with all of the good ideas the other members have suggested, you'll be a nursing-in-public pro in no time!

Jessica - posted on 02/03/2009

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I use something similar to what Ciara has. I have a Peanut Shell nursing cover that I like to use when I'm out. They are also carried at Babies R US.

Jodie - posted on 02/03/2009

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i use breast feeding tops they are two layered around your boobs so you can slip your nipple out and latch on with hardley anythis showing people have even come upo to my son while feedin and stroked his head and not realised that he was feeding

[deleted account]

I used a nursing cover called a Hooter Hider.  It's a special cover that has a stiff collar that holds the cloth away from your body so it allows you to see down to your baby and it doesn't lay on top of their face.  There is plenty of cloth to cover up my upper body, and they come in all different prints.  Plus, they sell them for around $25-$30 at Babies R Us and on Amazon.com

Crystal - posted on 02/03/2009

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When my babies were younger I'd make sure I wore shirts that would at least stretch out some, then when I went to breastfeed I'd get my bra out of the way and stick my child under my shirt. Nothing showed and I had no problems. If they got hot I'd just move my shirt up to where the back of my child's head was and then I can control how much of the shirt is covering their face.

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