How to Breastfeed in Public

If the fear of stares or overexposure has you and Baby housebound, follow these steps to become a virtuoso at nursing confidently.
Breastfeeding in Public
Breastfeeding in Public

Dress for Success

Wear a nursing bra or tank -- they have clever flaps and latches you can open with one hand. You can also throw a cute cardi or button-down blouse over a regular top to keep your middle covered when you lift your shirt to nurse.

Build Your Confidence

Practice nursing in front of a mirror, both seated and standing (many fussy babies will latch only if Mom is on her feet). You'll get an idea of what passersby will see and can make tweaks if you're giving a peep show.

Note Baby's Feed-Me Cues

Does she turn her head from side to side or put her hand to her mouth? She probably has the munchies. You'll want to nurse before her crying spirals. If you wait until she's wailing, getting her to latch may be tough.

Position Yourself for Privacy

Find a low-traffic zone, and use your stroller as a barrier to keep people at bay. Once settled, hold Baby in the crook of your arm and bring her close to you, then undo your nursing top and bra, or pull up your shirt.

Have a Stress-Free Latch-Off

Hold Baby's head close to you so she's blocking your breast, then fasten your bra and pull your shirt down. Switching breasts? Position your shirt as if you're closing up shop, reposition Baby, and start feeding.

Nursing Notes

  • Place a burp cloth over your arm during feedings to provide a quick cover-up in case Baby pulls away or lifts your shirt.
  • You may still get stares, but simply meet Ms. Nosy's eyes and reciprocate with a friendly, self-assured smile.
  • Forty-four states, along with the District of Columbia, have laws that specifically allow women to breastfeed in any location. Learn your rights at NCSL.org.
  • Nursing your baby in a sling is another comfy way to keep yourself covered.

Originally published in the September 2011 issue of American Baby magazine.

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