Breastfeeding in public can seem daunting when you're a new mom, but doing so will spell F-R-E-E-D-O-M for you and your milk-lovin' munchkin. These tips and tricks from real moms will transform you into a public nursing pro in no time.
"Comfort and convenience are everything. I got fitted by a professional for a new nursing bra a few months after having each of my babies. Buying a nursing bra I feel physically comfortable in means I'm always wearing it, and always ready to nurse."
—Kristy B., mother to an 18-month-old and 6-week-old
Re-Work Your Wardrobe
"Nursing bras are crucial, but I steer toward real clothes instead of nursing tops. Loose T-shirts or tanks can be easily pulled down to provide my baby with access (also allow me to keep my belly covered). Learning what to look for has meant I don't have to sacrifice either my sense of modesty or fashion."
—Allyson S., mother of a 10-month-old
Wear Your Baby, Do Your Thing
"I carry my daughter in a front carrier and discreetly allow her to nurse while I'm doing my thing—I can complete an entire grocery-shopping trip this way! I have pretty small breasts, so it's easy for me to keep my goods under wraps by just pulling my shirt slightly aside for her; usually, other people don't even notice that I'm nursing."
—Heather V., mother to a 5-month-old
Look For Your Best Location
"I keep an eye out for discreet seating in restaurants—booths are great. I also take advantage of nursing lounges in airports. If there isn't a private space to nurse, however, I'll just turn my body, as much as possible, away from any potential onlookers."
—Ellen D., mother to a 6-month-old
"My daughter doesn't like nursing covers, so I'll throw a small blanket, or pretty scarf, over any exposed breast while she nurses. I've even just used my hand in a pinch. Although the situation's rarely ideal, I just treat nursing as a no-big-deal, natural occurrence, and most people take their cue from my attitude."
—Candyce E., mother to an 11-month-old
Fake It 'Til You Make It
"Whether I'm using a makeshift cover or not—tucking one end of a napkin under my bra strap, and the other between my arm and the baby's head works like a charm—I try to stay calm and confident, and just get it done. If I didn't, I'd have to stay home, bored and annoyed. Even feigned confidence is better than that!"
—Diana H., mother to a 1-year-old and a 15-month-old
Have a Joke Handy
"I've taken both of my kids on business trips, so they've nursed in busy airports and on planes. If other business travelers give me annoyed looks, I just smile and say 'It's his first business trip.' That usually eases any tension."
—Jennifer D., mother to a 5-year-old and a 1-year-old
Prepare a Few Comebacks, Too
"It took having a second baby for me to feel confident enough to nurse anywhere I was, but then I had confidence to burn. If a stranger said something negative to me, I'd respond with, 'I'm sorry you feel offended, but my baby is breast fed, and bathrooms are not meant for dining,' or even, "Seriously? It's not 1954. Get over it.'"
—Laurie R, mother to a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old
Explore Your Options
"I've always used covers, so my baby is used to them. It took a few tries to find a style I like, though; my favorites fit like a long apron tied loosely around my neck, which allows me to see my son, and still be a part of things. In a crowd, it provides us with a nice, private environment."
—Deborah F., mother to a 7-month-old
Ask Other Moms
"I pooled my local mom's listserv to learn which restaurants, stores, and coffee shops in town are most welcoming to nursing moms. If we're having Sunday brunch, or if I meet a friend for coffee, I choose a place where I know I can relax. Some businesses are even beginning to put baby-friendly stickers on their doors."
—Hailey S., mother to a 9-month-old
Talk With Your Tot
"My toddler wants to nurse and be a part of whatever's happening around him, which means he'll be easily distracted and likely expose me before a crowd. But since he doesn't need to nurse immediately, like a small baby does, I'll suggest we either move to a quiet corner, or wait until later. He then decides whether he prefers to play or to nurse. This flexibility is a nice change after the more demanding baby stages."
—Nancy M., mother to a 3-year-old
Discover Unexpected Perks
"I'm not shy about nursing; I'll do it anywhere, anytime, and without a cover. But I also welcome it as an escape. If I'm not having fun at a holiday gathering, for example, I'll excuse myself and slip into a back room where baby and I can nurse and snuggle, and where I can play on my phone. It's win-win!"
—Evin C., mother of a 7-year-old, 2-year-old, and nursing 16-month-old