Breastfeeding in public

Let me start by saying, I completely support breastfeeding in public, and think anyone should be able to feed their child – whether with a bottle or a boob – when out and about. 

That said, I’m anxious about it. I’m not totally sure why. Partly, I don’t relish the thought of my nipple joining the big show out here on the outside of the clothes, and partly society has very convincingly taught me forever that women’s bodies are, at the root of it all, shameful. I’ve heard the stories of women shamed at Lowes for breastfeeding (and frankly I can’t think of a more irritating situation, than having to nurse in a hardware store – no offense to Lowes in particular, but they are not soft and inviting places – and on top of that being condescended to by a prick with a store manager name tag), or at parks, or the grocery store. Breastfeeding is hard enough without having to deal with an adult in your face as well. 

But the reality is that I will need to feed Grant out and about, and I’m certainly not going to hide at home and perpetuate the idea that women should stay at home to feed exclusively. So I have questions for other mothers who had fed in the greater world. 

  • Did you have any hesitation?
  • Where was the first place you breastfed publicly?
  • Do/did you use a cover? Why?
  • Do you have a process or ritual specific to breastfeeding away from home?
  • What has your experience been, overall? (Good, uneventful, ok, not good, etc)
  • If you had reservations, how did you overcome them?
  • Has your opinion changed since you first breastfed?

I only pumped with the twins until 4 months, so although I had a few times I had to pump out and about, it was easy to get in the car, for example. That doesn’t seem possible with two older kids at the park, for example. Or if the car is a million degrees in August. 

I want to hear all experiences!

13 thoughts on “Breastfeeding in public

  1. I haven’t had babies since my early 20s and that has been, well. A while.

    Did you have any hesitation?
    Yes

    Where was the first place you breastfed publicly?
    You mean where people could see me with my cover and all? I guess the closest thing would be my in-laws house. And I was told to go to another room because that was gross. Church had mother’s lounges. There was one humiliating time I had to feed my son in a bathroom stall, and from then on I avoided getting out when I knew we would need to nurse.

    Do/did you use a cover? Why?
    Yes, it would have been unheard of not to. But my spring and summer babies didn’t like it and of course always tried to take it off.

    Do you have a process or ritual specific to breastfeeding away from home?
    Frankly I didn’t get out much with the babies and if I did, I tried to bring my pump with me after that first bathroom incident. Church had the mother’s lounge, so I’d use that as needed.

    What has your experience been, overall? (Good, uneventful, ok, not good, etc)
    Honestly my in-laws thought it was disgusting, so that was hard. When my baby spat up, it was “GET IT OFF ME! THAT’S BREAST MILK!” and so on. So. Not particularly good. I’m glad times have changed a bit.

    If you had reservations, how did you overcome them?
    I didn’t. I just kept going in spite of them.

    Has your opinion changed since you first breastfed?
    Yes, if I had a kid again, I would totally breastfeed on a train, in a tree, in a car, and so on. Probably mostly at the park though. Possibly with a cover depending on the weather; certainly with nursing shirts so I wouldn’t have to show my stretch-marked belly. Old feelings die hard. And I would probably still be discreet at church, but wouldn’t leave the chapel.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am SO SORRY you had such a rough go of it! You have to be the nicest person I know, as well as a wonderful mother, and it really makes me so mad that you – of all people – would be treated so poorly! So many hugs to your younger self ❤

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      1. Thanks Zandy. My younger self needed way more hugs than it got 🙂 Thankfully current self is doing alright. And I’m glad my neighbors and friends who are new moms feel a bit more free.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I was more modest about it with Luke – tried to avoid nursing while out, or used a cover/sat in the car. He hated the cover as he got a bit bigger, and I found it cumbersome, so once he was in more of a feeding routine I just planned to be home (or somewhere easy, like a friends’ house) at feeding times. With Lucy, I had NO reservations from day 1. Planning around her feeding schedule wasn’t realistic with a toddler in the mix. I fed her everywhere – church, playgrounds, restaurants, whatever. No cover, though I wore nursing tops that made things fairly modest. No one ever said anything to me (though, to be fair, we were in Brooklyn. Anything goes!). When both kids hit 4 or 5 months, they were too easily distracted to nurse out and about, so it became a moot point – but they also ate less frequently. With a really little one, do what you gotta do. 🙂

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      1. I got most of mine at Target – just the ones that clip down from the straps. But both my kiddos were small in the winter, so I usually had a sweater or long-sleeves shirt over top that I pulled UP, so really nothing was exposed. I had some Gap tanks that I wore every single night at home – the tops were a little too baggy on me to wear out, but I loved them otherwise. (Gap also has some good, tricky ones that provide a lot more modesty) http://www.gap.com/browse/product.do?cid=15098&vid=1&pid=112772042, http://www.gap.com/browse/product.do?cid=15098&vid=1&pid=112770002

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  3. Did you have any hesitation? Very little hesitation, but I’m really comfortable with bodies being bodies. Clothes are meant for winter.
    Where was the first place you breastfed publicly? I haven’t a clue. I just did it.
    Do/did you use a cover? Why? I always used a blanket because I realized others don’t have the same view as I do, and it might make them uncomfortable.
    Do you have a process or ritual specific to breastfeeding away from home? I threw on a blanket, grabbed a boob and gave it to my hungry child.
    What has your experience been, overall? (Good, uneventful, ok, not good, etc) Good
    If you had reservations, how did you overcome them? The only time I hesitated was one time in church (during a great sermon so I didn’t want to leave) when I went to nurse, got my kid latched, and I was literally tapped on my shoulder by an older man behind me. I thought he was going to lecture me, but instead he thanked me for being a great mom and told me it was great to see someone doing what was best for the child without being ashamed in public. His wife stood by him, nodding. He was a retired Dr. I am still in awe of that situation. So different from negative experiences of which I had heard.
    Has your opinion changed since you first breastfed? I had to bottle feed my first two for medical reasons, but got to nurse my third. I wish I could go back in time and nurse the first two. Stand firm in public. You are doing what is natural, and there should be no shame.

    Liked by 1 person

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