How to handle PDAs (Public Displays of Awkwardness)
1. Your babe lets loose, really loudly. Just as Melissa James's pastor called for a period of silence during a service, her 8-day-old decided it was a fine time to do his thing. "He filled his diaper, and out came a loud, drawn-out, liquidy, raspberry sound!" recalls the mom from Hampton, Virginia.
Save-face strategy Laugh it off. James dissolved into giggles, along with her friends. As she says, "I decided it was a reminder from up above that I needed to keep a sense of humor as a mom."
2. Oh, no! Baby's puke is everywhere. During a holiday trip, as Kirsti Jeppsen, of Taylorsville, Utah, shuffled through a long airport security line, her 17-month-old threw up on her. "I just wanted to cry," she says.
Save-face strategy Accept help. "One mom in line passed me a couple of wadded-up tissues, and another handed me some rumpled napkins," Jeppsen says. Tokens, sure, but when disaster strikes, an offer of assistance can be just as comforting as a hug.
3. Snookums screams throughout a flight. Bernadette Noll once flew with her wailing, flailing, teething 6-month-old. The evil eye from passengers was about to become a torrent of angry words when the Austin, Texas, mom bought a round of drinks for people seated nearby. "It broke the ice and softened the not-so-nice glares," Noll says.
Save-face strategy No need to lube up seatmates with drinks. Commiserating works too! Try a rueful smile and, "Wish I'd brought earplugs for all of us!"
Nurse in Public (Without Flashing Anyone in the Process)
If the fear of stares or overexposure has left you housebound, take the advice of Barbara Emanuel, executive director of La Leche League International. See you at the mall!
Dress for success.
Nursing bras and tanks have cleverly designed flaps and latches that you can often open with one hand, allowing your baby easy access. Try wearing a loose button-down blouse or cardigan over a nursing tank top (which unlatches from the strap) to keep your middle covered. Place a burp cloth over your arm to provide a quick cover-up, just in case. You can also carry your baby in a sling for a truly stealthy feeding.
Do a trial run.
At home, nurse in front of a mirror, where you'll be able to view what passersby will see. When you arrive at your destination, scope out a private niche if mealtime is coming up. As soon as Baby sends out his "I've got the munchies" signs, which might include turning his head from side to side or putting his hand to his mouth, get set to nurse before he starts crying, which will make it tougher to latch on.
Don't be shy!
Handle stares by meeting Ms. Nosy's eyes and reciprocating with a friendly, confident smile. And know that the law is probably behind you: Most states have laws that allow women to breastfeed in public. Learn your rights at NCSL.org.