Question about feeding in public (and I am a newbie so please be nice)

Amy - posted on 02/23/2010 ( 31 moms have responded )

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I am 22 weeks along and plan to breast feed as long as my body & baby will let me. And I believe every woman has the right to do the same. I also believe you breast feed when it is need where ever you are home, mall, friend's home etc. but isn't there some etiquette on how to feed in public? I was on a plane this week and a lady just pulled out her breast and started feeding her toddler. Like I said I am a newbie and it don't want to started any fights or anything but I am curious. Isn't there some manners (for lack of a better word) of covering up while feeding in public. Especially with all the new apron/blankets that are out there? Like a I said I am just curious. Thanks for the info.

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Sara - posted on 03/03/2010

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Hi, my 2 cents on the topic:
I have a cover but am afraid to use it because to me, it will be like a big sign that says "hey, look, breastfeeding over here!". That said, I do feed my lil' guy while we are out and about. You will get a feel for what will work for you in different situations. I love nursing tops and nursing tank tops with a cardigan or hoodie.

Emily - posted on 02/23/2010

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Everyone will have different opinions on this, but I don't think cover-ups are necessary. I don't eat with a blanket over my head, so I don't expect my baby to. Besides, when I do try to use a cover-up, my baby just screams. I think that draws even more attention than just nursing. Personally I think people just need to get over it. They're just boobs. If it's okay for women to walk around in skimpy bikinis, it should be okay for me to feed my child. Not saying I'm going to expose more than I need to, but I don't think anyone should have to hide.

Kimberly - posted on 02/23/2010

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Same as others here, I am anti-cover. I bought a nursing cover but my baby HATED it and we would get really hot and sweaty using it. What I ended up doing was buying a few good nursing tank tops. When I'm out in public, I wear one and a cardigan sweater if it's chilly and most people never even know I'm feeding my babes. Even my husband will ask, "Are you feeding the baby right now?" because he can't tell. A baby sling is also REALLY helpful for walking around, feeding baby, having your hands free, and being discreet. If I am in a place where I feel like offering a bit more discretion (it's rare...I live in Oregon which is really progressive) I just use a small burp cloth to drape over my shoulder and the baby's forehead, giving us a VERY small cover-up that doesn't make either of us too uncomfortable, but does cover any of my skin that's still exposed after the baby is latched on.

Jennifer - posted on 02/23/2010

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I breastfed my daughter where ever we were at the time. I usually wore a tanktop under my shirt so that my breast went over the tank and under my top shirt so there was very little exposure and my daughter covered the exposed part while feeding. It was actually quite easy and most people don't even notice that it's happening. They just think you are cradling the baby close.

April - posted on 02/23/2010

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Hi Amy,



Congratulations on expecting! I do think I can shed some light on the airplane situation. I used to think it was polite to cover up, but after having my son and seeing how much he HATED being covered, I am 100% anti-cover.



It was to the point that my son would refuse to nurse unless I took the apron or blanket away. It didn't matter how hungry he was or how many hours had passed. He wasn't going to nurse unless I wasn't covered.



Perhaps, the lady on the airplane was in the same situation I found myself in. With my son, trying to cover up actually brought MORE attention to myself. This lady might have been trying to avoid drawing more attention in such a small space too.

31 Comments

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Kimberly - posted on 04/25/2011

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Of course there are nursing manners! But as with all things some people choose to ignore them and do what they want, regardless of who they upset. I firmly belive that you should nurse your child when and where they have a need of it, but you should always try to be as modest as possible. Two of my five children hated having a cover over them and would screem and fight untill they got it off. In this case you can find many nursing tops that provide more coverage for you without covering the baby. When you look about at the store and other public places and see women walking about half naked is it any wonder that they see no problem exposing the rest when nursing? I am sorry if I sound judgemental but with two of my boys entering their teenage years I wish that women would be more aware of what they are showing and to whom. Breastfeeding is amazing and wonderfull and it can and should be done with at least an attempt at modesty!

Christina - posted on 04/24/2011

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I always used a cover, although my daughter hated being covered when we flew or when in public, she would tug at the blanket. I flew from Memphis to California frequently (hubby is in the military) with my little girl and once in the airport I saw a mom just plop her boob out and for lack of better words... I could never see myself doing something like that in public! Don't get me wrong, I fed my little one every time she was hungry, no matter where we were! I was just discreet!! I also learned there are laws about breast feeding in public, so find out what your city/state regulates, for the most part almost all places are acceptable. Good luck, breast feeing is the most amazing, rewarding thing EVER! :)

[deleted account]

Never used a cover, but I imagine them being a nightmare. My toddler certainly wouldn't take to one! A nursing tank-top under your shirt will allow you to nurse discretely. You can also simply use your hand to cover up a little. Or turn a little to the side. At the end of the day, it is a very natural thing to feed your baby, so why should you have to hide it? Doesn't mean you have to flash your whole upper body at everyone, just expose what's needed. Baby will hide most of it anyway.

Rebekah - posted on 01/25/2011

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The nursing cover never worked for my kids past about 6 months... and as others have said, when I used them, it was like having a sigh that said, "look over here, I'm nursing!"

After that, I'd just try to position myself so that no one could see and use my clothes to cover myself up (as most have already suggested).

Elfrieda - posted on 01/25/2011

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I think some people are good at nursing the baby without much fuss, and others are too clumsy! I know I had a really hard time nursing my son in public without flashing the whole place. (plus he would scream b/c I had a slow letdown reflex, so everybody would look over... grr.) I hated covers, as they were just another thing to juggle while trying to latch the boy on, and so I would ask my friend or husband or whoever was with me to hold a blanket in front of me for a bit, until he settled into his meal. It was a big scene every time, but at some point you just don't care - the baby needs food and you're going to give it to him!
He also hated anything over his head. Really, the only time you're exposed is when you're latching on. For most of it, it's not obvious what you're doing. I had several embarrassed brothers-in-law who came over to me, "oh, is he sleeping?" and they'd pat his head. I'd be a bit uncomfortable with that, but nowhere near as uncomfortable as they were when I told them that "no, he's eating"!

Joanne - posted on 01/25/2011

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Some people cover up and some dont, its all down to what works best for mum and baby. I have always fed(and will when this one born)very discretly, wothout the need to cover up. But no mum should be forced to cover up, as i have said many times before if people dont like what they see...dont look. Hun just do what your comfterbale with. It will come naturally. good luck

Ashley - posted on 03/06/2010

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It is up to you as a mama and ur baby and what u r comfy with. In the beginning I would cover my kids up when I nursed in public. I tend to be a very modest person and I didn't really feel comfy with just having a bare boob or two (i have twins) out for all to see. My boys are 19 months old now and if they wanna nurse I just do. I try to be polite about it, but toddlers aren't always patient in such matters.

I just try to find an out of the way, quiet place where I shouldn't be noticed too much and I try to turn my back to others when possible.

Kirsty - posted on 03/04/2010

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I started off very awkward about feeding and didn't really leave the house for weeks!! Not because i cared what other people thought, but because i was a embarrassed about people seeing too much. Now my baby is 5 months old, i honestly don't care anymore. I love my baby so much that i would feed her anywhere she wants! If any one dared to question it i would absolutely wipe the floor with them. Like someone else mentioned "if someone doesn't want to watch, they can put a blanket over their head"

Sarah - posted on 03/03/2010

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I've tried using a cover, but it gets too fiddly, so I gave up. The easiest way is to find a top which allows easy access. It doesn't necessarily have to be a nursing top - I've got a whole lot of tops that have big stretchy necklines, so I can just pull it down over whatever side I'm feeding her from. I try not to flash too much, which isn't actually that hard as my boobs aren't all that big anyway! lol.

But yeah, we took our first plane ride recently and I just said politely to the man sitting next to me, "I hope you don't mind me feeding my baby - it's either that or put up with a screaming baby!" - he was totally fine with it. I think most people are pretty accommodating. The first couple of times feeding in public really stressed me out, but you soon get the hang of it - practice doing it discretely at home first! Also, here in NZ most malls have a parents room where you can go and feed your baby - I always keep a lookout for those!

Oh, and if people do have a problem with you feeding your baby - you could always offer them a blanket to cover their head =P

Hannah - posted on 03/03/2010

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I couldn't juggle a baby and a breastfeeding cover if I tried now that my daughter is over 6 months. She's too big, wriggly and distracted by things that are different to usual when breastfeeding. I never use a cover at home so trying to use a cover in public means she doesn't feed while she's trying to work out what the cover is and what she can do with it!
Here in Australia it's illegal for anybody to ask a breastfeeding woman to stop breastfeeding, no matter where she is. I don't "flash" people with my breasts, but if my baby needs to be fed, she gets fed.

Jessica - posted on 03/03/2010

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You can try nursing tops. I haven't used those but I've heard good things.

I use a nursing cover when I'm out, and so far my daughter will leave it on. Some babies don't want to be covered while they eat.

Trust me - you will get the hang of feeding in public and after a few times it won't seem like a big deal anymore and you may be that mom on the plane who whips her breast out!

Good luck and know that to BF is to give your baby the absolute best start in life. Stick with it. IT's not always easy at first and can be uncomfortable - but learn as much as you can about it before your baby is born. Proper latch-on is the key.

Ericka - posted on 03/03/2010

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my daughter always made a big scene or had a huge fit if her head was covered. i always tried to wear a loose shirt and lifted my shirt to feed her. there really arent any "rules" to how you have to do it. however, you CANNOT be told to leave or stop for nursing in public. i think the hooter hiders really only work when your baby is really new cause once they are 5 months or so they like to see what is goin on and will move it out of their way. however we need to see if baby is latched right when we first start so it is up to you if you use one. but dont let your fear of feeding in public keep you from bfing. many times you can find a quiet place to do it if that makes you more comfortable, but never nurse in the bathroom it is really unclean to do so. i know a lot of places tell you that is the only place allowed for that, but they cant make you leave for nursing where ever you want.

Niki - posted on 03/03/2010

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my breast got rediculiously big while i was breast feeding and at first i found it unconfortably to feed in public, and show that much flesh with people staring (and yes some people do stare) but I fairly soon learned which tops worked the best, and how to get my breast out there and into babys mouth quickly without flashing everyone. with the right top you can do it without showing flesh or needing a 'cover' just do a bit of experimentatin at home first. and make sure you try out new tops in private before going out in public - I learnd that the hard way by having a rather embarrising dinner at a fancy restaurant with my 2 week old!

[deleted account]

I'm with the majority here..no covers. Neither of my children could ever stand them. As for the lady on the plane....I am currently nursing a toddler and maybe she just thought it would be less of a scene to show a little breast vs a screaming temper tantrum. I recently nursed my then 19 month old standing in line at the grocery store because it was that or fight with him trying to yank my shirt over his head and my face to get comforted. I figured a quiet baby in my arms was better than one screaming and showing the world my breasts anyway. Toddlers are different nursers than younger babies. Congrats and Good luck!

Marla - posted on 02/28/2010

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I breastfed my first through the whole 1st yr, and my second for almost 6mo as I was single and working, which equaled stressed meaning less milk and I had to supplement, then dried up and had to quit. My method was this-- get the latching process and feeding down pat before even worrying about covers. In the hospital it won't matter, let it hang out and just concentrate on getting it right. Then at home make sure you've still got it as a lot of new moms have a little trouble when they are alone and adjusting. Once latched you can try the covers or any method of concealment (like pulling the shirt closer to baby, etc) to find what works for you. And I, having conquered the feeding and experimented with a few ways of discretion, practiced sitting at a table or on the toilet in front of the mirror or in front of my mom to see how well I could do it w/o flopping boobies everywhere. I am not against those who don't use covers, my babies started disliking it too especially in the summer and I just went with the boob-over-tank-top under my shirt. I am rather soft-spoken in person and didn't want people looking at my nipples or anything, lol. I caught more flak from my father than strangers about nursing in public and he would make me go to the restroom if we were out. Some people don't understand, some people think it's wonderful and understand it's natural. If they don't like it they don't have to stare. :) Just be comfortable with whatever you do and don't let others opinions control how you feel about it. Breast is best, as they say!

[deleted account]

Get a nursing cover and no one will even notice. Cover up to respect other people's boundaries.

Ashley - posted on 02/27/2010

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Like Megan who replied, I also know someone that can feed without a cover and you cant even tell shes nursing or see any of her body! But dont try that until your more experienced, when I had my son I just made sure I had several blankets where ever I went. Its perfectly fine to nurse in public, whether you choose to cover or not! If you are somewhere too busy or crowded or a mall, ask someone for a more private room or dressing room, this way you dont have to cover and its easier for baby without so many distractions. Best of luck with your breastfeeding, and don't give up!

Aicha - posted on 02/27/2010

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I just feed my baby were ever when ever she is hungry I have taught her to allow me after she is latched on to pull my shirt right up against her cheek and she will usually nurse quietly unless she senses someone staring at her then she will unlatch and start fussing.
If I am in a mall I will find a store that has a women's lounge with a couch and nurse her there comfort for both of us

Simone - posted on 02/23/2010

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yep i agree!! Its up to the mums comfort level, not the comfort level of others! Well said!!!!

Alicia - posted on 02/23/2010

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I am for what ever makes that mom comfortable. I have known moms who supplement in public instead of breastfeeding because they were scolded for using a cover. And to the other extreme I have known moms who go out of their way to show and flash their breast because it is their right, and it is. I think the important thing is that mom is breastfeeding, and that is more important than weather she chooses to cover or not. Either way it is up to that particular mom and her comfort level, not the comfort level of of others around her.

Simone - posted on 02/23/2010

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before i had a baby i always loooked at breastfeeding as something that you should do discreetly, but on once i had my baby my views changed straight away. at first i didnt feel comfortable feeding w/o a cover, but now i do it wherever & dont care who sees my boob. once u hav the bub u'll probably find your not as worried about it.

Amy - posted on 02/23/2010

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Thanks for all the info! I already plan on joining my local La Leche League having this spot really helps. I don't judge anyone on their breastfeeding choices since I haven't done it yet. I am just trying to get as much info as possible before I having my little girl & start breastfeeding myself.

Angela - posted on 02/23/2010

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I think it's a matter of preference-for the mama and baby that is- but honestly the amount of breast showing when a woman breastfeeds is not that much different than what shows in a low cut top, depending on the top it can be less than that, and nursing in public is not easy- chairs have no arm rests- tables are too close to booths, sometimes a cover is just another thing to fight with. Good luck with everything!

Sarah - posted on 02/23/2010

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I have been with my baby all across the United States and the 'etiquette' is different wherever you are. I'd say to just get used to nursing at home, and try to spy out what other moms are doing around you if you don't want to stick out or offend anyone.



I'm from the Midwest and I tried to stick to nursing in places where I knew people wouldn't take too much notice - like at a corner table when we were out eating, or a park bench in a more lightly trafficked area. When I lived in California, it was more offensive to bottle feed your baby than to openly breastfeed! :) I used a cover sometimes in public more so my baby wouldn't be distracted than for any other reason. Around four months, she started TEARING the cover off and fussing if I used it - which drew more attention to my exposed breast than just nursing her would have.



There are laws for each state, which you can find on the La Leche League website.



I have nursed without a cover on a plane - after having my daughter cry and cry and pull it off. It's like anything else with being a parent - there is a point at which you just choose what your child needs over what anyone else thinks or feels.

[deleted account]

My babies don't like things on there heads, studies show that babies don't like things on there heads in general. If someone doesn't want to watch me feed my baby they can put a blanket on their head. That said, fourth baby around I am very good at nursing my baby with no cover and keeping everything private. Some studies show that more people actually notice you are nursing if you are covered up verses nursing while baby is in a sling or wrap. I have nursing tanks, so I don't have to worry about my belly showing and no one even knows he is nursing and he is fifteen months old.

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