How to Breastfeed in Public

5 tips to nurse wherever you are, discreetly and with confidence.

“Feed your baby anywhere,” they say. “It will be easy.” Breastfeeding in public can be seamless and easy, but there are barriers to overcome depending on a variety of factors. For example, if you’ve got an F cup size, whipping the breasts out may not be as easy a feat as it would be for someone with a B cup! But rest assure that breastfeeding in public can be done by anyone, almost anywhere (did you hear that, Idaho?! Get on board already!) because, well, when a baby is hungry, a baby’s gonna eat!

So let’s talk about some ways you can gear up to become the expert in “nursing in public” you are bound to be! Here are 5 ways you can prepare to breastfeed in public like a pro, discreetly and everything.

1. Invest in a nursing cover. You don’t have to use one, and, truth be told, as your babe gets bigger she will no doubt attempt to yank it off. But for now, this will be something to help you get started nursing in public while growing some confidence. Pick something easy to put on and lightweight, like a swaddle blanket. We also love the Bamboobies Chic Nursing Shawl for its ability to be worn in many ways, even when not nursing! Alternatively, you can use a baby carrier to keep baby comfy while nursing discreetly. The Ergobaby carrier or the Sakura Bloom are both great options.

2. Get some easy access clothes. Easy-access clothes may have had a different meaning when you were in dating mode but now, you need stuff that your baby likes, not your man! If you can easily pull down the neckline, then I consider it “nursing friendly.” But there are also some great nursing tops and dresses on that make it easy to be fashionable while feeding your baby. For a little styling inspiration, perouse the clothes at Loyal Hana and Seraphine.

3. Practice at homeThis might sound a little bit silly. Practice?! But trust me, this can really help you get the perfect position and figure out exactly how others will see you. Take a seat in front of a mirror and nurse your babe. You’ll notice that truly, less breast shows than when you’re wearing a bikini top! When I first did this, the realization that I wasn’t completely “hanging out” of my top was settling and made me feel better about nursing in a public place.

4. Choose a location strategically. For your first few times nursing in public, pick a place you know and love — your favorite brunch spot where you know the staff or your closest park where there’s a quiet spot with a bench. Start off in a comfortable, familiar location — in a spot that is, in a sense, yours — will help you ease into nursing in public. Even having a friend or your partner with you can make you feel more comfortable. From there, you’ll feel better about branching out into other places and spaces, whether you’re by yourself or with other people.

5. Focus on your baby. Focusing on your baby, the nourishment you’re giving her and the ability to be able to nurse her anywhere and anytime is a positive way you can stop you from getting nervous or anxious about anyone staring or whispering about you. Those are rare circumstances anyway. Don’t give in to someone who may be giving a look of disgust or who moves away from you – remember that you’re doing what’s best for you and your baby and what’s legally allowed (once again, we’re looking at you, Idaho!).

Photography by Belle Augusta for Well Rounded NY. Shibori nursing cover available at A Gifted Baby.

Chelsea Vassi

Chelsea Vassi

Chelsea is a Michigan transplant who hasn't ever fully accepted city life. She currently works full-time and writes honestly and thoughtfully on her blog, Harvest Mama. In her spare time she loves to sew and quilt, be outdoors and spend time with her family.

Comments {10}

  1. Why should we aim to be discreet?? This is the last thing a mom needs to worry about. As if they are doing something private, unsightly/gross, or immodest. Nope, just feeding a child.

    Plus, tip #5 kinda goes against the title of this list “5 tips to nurse wherever you are, discreetey…” There is no reason being ‘discreet’ should be referenced 3 times in an article about how to breastfeed.

    Norah
  2. I fully agree with Norah’s comment! I understand the goal of this article is to help moms who aren’t confident about breastfeeding in public, but I find that your angle and approach are totally wrong. Moms who nurse in public have nothing to be discreet about, and should not be made to feel that way…

    Elise
  3. I appreciate this article because there are also some moms who want to bf publicly… and be discreet… me. Thanks!

    Courtney
  4. I’m disappointed to see this titled “How To Breastfeed In Public.” The right way to breastfeed in public is any way you and your baby want to. If that means a nursing cover, great. If it means pulling down your shirt in the middle of a Starbucks while your toddler dives for the goods, cool. By using a generic title, you suggest moms *should* feel weird or nervous about nursing in public.

    If you don’t want to show a lot of skin – or, like me, live where it’s cold – allow me to suggest the two-shirt solution: a tank top you can pull down plus a long-sleeve shirt you can pull up. It took me until about 3 months to master this combo (it can be hard to get a good look to help with latching), but it’s become my mom uniform!

    Sarah
  5. I appreciate as well- this was much more my comfort level, which was refreshing. I just want to feed my baby- and keep it about me and my baby, not be made to feel like I need to make a political point at the same time. Or be ashamed of wanting to do it discreetly.

    Sarah
  6. I agree, Courtney – I am all for nursing anywhere and any WAY that you want… but I’m a teacher who lives in the community where I teach, so I’m just not that comfortable whipping the girls out if there’s a chance I could run into a student. I appreciate the “discreet” options, too.

    Molly
  7. I have a question: I work in a family run retail store where I’m often the only one at the front. Ironically, I’m fine with shipping it out to feed the kid in front of customers, who are mostly boomers who are probably founding member of la leche league, but it’s an outdoor store and many of not most of my coworkers are young men, who I’m less inclined to give a free show to. But my kiddo tends to get distracted mid feed and so covering him and my goods up just makes feedings twice as long and I end up uncovering to get him latched back on anyway. Any suggestions? This is an every two to three hour problem!!

    Finny
  8. I want to be someon who feels bold and confident breastfeeding anywhere but I think it’s going to take some practice and baby steps. I like the steps this article has to offer.

    Alisa
  9. Hi Finny! Great question. Comfort level is up to you and that’s definitely what I was aiming for in this article as well. I think you’ll find that men, just as much as women, if not more, aren’t faltered or uncomfortable with a breastfeeding mom. If you’re comfortable without a cover, I say go for it! Or you could use the cover for the first few minutes and then take it off after that. Or even “half cover”, in a sense! Or what about putting your babe in a carrier? Sometimes that can help with not using a cover but you’re still somewhat covered. Whatever you choose, I’m sure you’ll have plenty of support. It’s all about normalizing breastfeeding!

    Chelsea @ Harvest Mama
  10. Hi Norah, Elise and Sarah…I understand your point but I want to stress that this isn’t at all about having to be discreet or having to use a cover. For many moms, and especially new moms, nursing in public is a whole new adventure and it can be hard to not feel “exposed” sometimes. This article is to help moms get out and nurse in public wherever they are and however they feel comfortable. And let’s face it: whether you’re covered or not, nursing in public in any form is normalizing breastfeeding, and that’s our main goal!

    Chelsea @ Harvest Mama

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