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Advice for First Time Mamas on How to Breastfeed in Public

One of the main reasons I didn’t want to go anywhere after Rachel was born was the embarrassment of figuring out how to breastfeed in public. Now that I have found a way Rachel and I can comfortably breastfeed wherever we are, there is so much more freedom in where we go and how long we are out.

There are many ways to feed your little one in public: breastfeeding expressed breast milk, or formula. The most important thing is that your little one is fed! The purpose of this post is to help mama and baby find a way to comfortably breastfeed in public if that is what they choose to do.

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1. Lifting your shirt and just going for it

You have the right to breastfeed how and where you choose! Although I bet if you are reading this post, that isn’t the type of advise you are looking for, my point is to not let anyone shame you or make you feel uncomfortable in how you choose to feed your child. You have the legal right to breastfeed openly in public (with the exception of Idaho I believe).

2. Investing in nursing tops or button up tops

There are tops out there made specifically for breastfeeding, that have secret panels that allow you to breastfeed without lifting your whole top and with minimal skin exposure. Brands like Motherhood offer a wide selection. I wore one of these recently to a Halloween party and it definitely made nursing a bit easier.

You can also try button up tops, which would allow you to just unbutton the top few buttons to nurse.

3. Using belly bands

This is hands down my favorite way to nurse in public. I purchased these belly bands to wear while I was pregnant to add length underneath my tops at the end of pregnancy. Now I use them under my regular tops to cover from my pants/shorts/skirt up to my nursing bra. All I need to do is lift my top, get a baby in place, unhook the nursing bra, latch a baby on, and position my shirt to cover anything above the baby’s head that I️ choose not to expose.

I love that it gives full coverage, allows me to wear a great variety of tops, and I only had to make one purchase to get me through pregnancy and nursing.

4. Bringing along a nursing cover

I purchased this nursing cover while trying to learn how to nurse in public. And while I️ love how versatile this nursing cover is, Rachel was just not feeling it. It may be that she was new to nursing with layers between us (we had been skin to skin before) or that since we live in LA the cover made it too hot for her, or she just doesn’t like to be covered. I️ kept the cover because it is so cute and versatile and will be trying to nurse with it again as it cools down a bit for our SoCal “winter”.

5. Location, location, location

Another important option is to just find a place you are comfortable and that will give you and your little one some privacy.

  • Nursing room/lounge – not always available based on where you go. Nordstrom is probably the only place I️ have been to where there is lounge, which is located just before the women’s restroom
  • Bathroom – not my favorite option, but I️ did do this the first time I️ fed Rachel outside our home. We were at a restaurant and she needed to be changed as well, so it was convenient to feed her there just after changing. But I️ have yet to feed her in a restroom again.
  • Dressing room – if you are out shopping this can be a great option, there is even a place to sit down in there!
  • Vehicle – this is by-far my favorite option right now! My husband’s car has very tinted back windows and I️ like that I️ can control the climate of the car. If we are on a long trip we usually park near a coffee shop or Starbucks so my husband can run in and get us drinks while Rachel and I nurse in the back seat.

Whichever method you choose, be sure to practice at home before trying it out in public, that way you can find out in advance if something doesn’t work for you, or if your little one just doesn’t like something. Practice will boost your confidence in the method you have chosen and it gives your little one a chance to adjust to your new way of nursing in a comfortable and familiar surrounding.

If there is anything I️ missed or if you have additional advice, please share it in the comments!

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4 COMMENTS

  1. Hailey | 16th Apr 18

    I wish I had this post when my son was tiny and still breastfeeding! These are great tips, and I love how you break it down to how much skin is exposed and you list so many different options. Saving these tips for the next baby!

    • Kai Hernandez | 6th May 18

      Hey Hailey,

      I am so glad you found these tips helpful! Exposed skin is definitely the first thing I realized when I started to nurse my daughter in public.

  2. Stefanie | 10th Dec 17

    This is so helpful! It’s so scary when it’s time to do it in public but you have to let go of that fear for the little one 🙂

    • Kai Hernandez | 10th Dec 17

      It is definitely hard at first, I was so embarrassed the first few times! But the more you do it, the more comfortable you become ?

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