When I started breastfeeding my first child, I was obsessive about covering in my perfect pink feeding cover or excusing myself to another room - or even the car so as not to make anyone uncomfortable. By the time I finished nursing my 3rd, I just didn’t care.
It was never embarrassed about nursing in front of people - but I was modest, even a bit conservative. After nursing for a while, I started joking that one day I might grow back into my modesty but it just wasn’t practical if you were breastfeeding. Nursing takes up a massive part of your day anyways, spending an extra ten minutes making sure everything was perfectly positioned and covered and everyone was comfortable with the situation just became exhausting.
The other lesson I learned was that the more I fussed over it, the more aware and conscious everyone in the room was that I was about to expose by boob. Over time, I learned that most of the time, I could feed the baby without anyone in the room even knowing what what going on until it was over.
Here are the breastfeeding lessons I picked up along the way:
- You don’t have to have clothes specially made for nursing - except good nursing bras. Those you need. Reach through the neck of your shirt to un-click the nursing latch in your bra. But lift your shirt from the bottom. Unless you need to look at the baby to help them latch - which this only lasts until the baby figures out what they are doing - your breast is really never exposed. Try these from Amazon.
- I generally positioned myself with the side I was going to feed from away from the room. Then even the little patch of skin at my waist was not visible. If you need to switch sides, see the next rule.
- Work it out with your husband ahead of time that you might need to borrow his jacket. I would slip on my husband’s jacket and the room would just assume I was cool. Un-snap the latch, lift the shirt from the bottom, and the oversized jacket literally covered everything else. The little patch of skin at your waist. Even the baby.
- If you need to help the baby, just do it. If you haven’t made a fuss about nursing, most people won’t even notice what you are doing. If you feel uncomfortable being exposed, I would just turn my back or the side that I was nursing from away from the room for a second, to help the baby get latched again. Then turn back around to the room. In the million times I did this, not one person ever said anything to me. I got a couple of knowing, kind smiles from people but, I think because I made an effort to be comfortable and discreet, I was always treated gracefully.
- When we went to eat at a restaurant, I would ask to sit at a booth. And I would pick the side of the booth that faced away from the restaurant. I completely support the right of women to feed a baby anywhere and anytime (and did it many times through the years) I just didn’t want to have dinner with my husband with my boob being a topic of discussion. So facing away from the room, allowed me to nurse openly and my husband would just let me know when the waiter was coming so I could use a cover to be discreet.
- Do not feel like you need to excuse yourself to a public restroom or go back to the car every time you need to feed the baby. The first is gross and the second is just exhausting. If I was in a super busy place like the shopping mall, I just looked for a chair and quiet corner somewhere. Sometimes the bookstore was a good place to have a quiet minute.
- You will get a lot of advice about nursing. Some will be good. Some will be annoying. I found the easiest way to manage it was to say something to the effect of: that is really interesting, I will read up on that/ think about that/ talk to the pediatrician about that… and then I changed the subject. Most people mean well. I just left it at that.
- Practice nursing at home… not like you have a choice. But the more comfortable you are, the more comfortable the people around you will be. Sometimes people you don’t expect will ask you questions. I always chose to answer them honestly. Sometimes seeing you nurse your child will remind other mothers of that time with their own children and they will tell you their stories. Listen to the stories. One day, you’ll be that mother too.
What other lessons did you learn about nursing? Share them in the comments and we will add them to the article.