Breastfeeding in public can seem very daunting to some moms. Whether it's your first baby or your fourth, the thought of managing a hungry baby and a breast in a new place can cause your pulse to race. Here are few tips and tricks that have helped me nurse two very different boys in public. Since I'm a jeans and shirt kind of girl, that's what I'll be discussing below.
Dress for (Breastfeeding) Success
While pregnant with my oldest, I spent about $100 on a few nursing shirts from a popular maternity chain. I was less than satisfied with them: by the time I managed to get my breast out to nurse, my baby was wailing, and it seemed like everyone was staring at me. Red faced and fumbling, I'd pray that he latched on quickly. I also found that the holes in the shirts for my breasts to be too small for my breasts and that baby wouldn't get a great latch. These shirts work very well for many moms, but they didn't work for me.
These days, I either wear a nursing tank under my normal shirt or a nursing bra and camisole. This lets me wear my existing clothes - good for my budget! I've raved about Undercover Mama nursing camisoles and use those often. I also have a ton of inexpensive, stretchy tank tops. I have amassed quite a collection over the years: they came in very handy when I was pumping at work for my older son. I've purchased Merona brand from Target, NY&Co's house brand, and Forever 21's Plus Size department.
When wearing a nursing bra and stretchy cami or a nursing tank with a t-shirt (or any shirt without buttons), I lift the shirt up, unhook my nursing bra, and pull the neck of my stretchy cami down. I use the t-shirt to cover the top part of my breast and the cami keeps my back and stomach under wraps, and baby's head blocks my breast. I call this a boob sandwich - my breast is between my regular shirt and the tank top I'm wearing. This is my preferred way to breastfeed in public.
When wearing a nursing bra/stretchy cami or a nursing tank under a button down shirt, I unbutton the first few buttons, unhook my nursing bra, and pull the neck of my stretchy cami down. There is no shirt covering the top of my breast. Alternatively, I can do the boob sandwich here as well.
You'll notice I didn't mention nursing covers or blankets - that's because it is up to you. I encourage you to nurse as you feel comfortable. If that's with a cover, great. If you're more comfortable without one, then that's fine too. I used a nursing cover for the first 4 months of my older son's life, because he was tiny and I have large breasts. I considered it similar to using training wheels: once my confidence was up and it became easier, I was able to nurse without a cover.
I hope these tips enable you to feel empowered when breastfeeding in public. It can be quite overwhelming being mom to a new baby and navigating breastfeeding. Mom-to-mom support groups (like La Leche League) are a great place to practice nursing in public. You'll be surrounded by other like-minded mamas and may even pick up a tip or two.