Nursing in public can be challenging for any mom. And trying to nurse a child who loathes being covered can feel akin to putting on a two-person Cirque du Soleil performance — such are the contortions, flailing, and unexpected flashes of nipple. But if your baby hates the nursing cover, there's hope out there. To help all the stressed, breastfeeding mamas out, I reached out to nursing expert Jada Shapiro and asked for some of her best tips on how to nurse in public when your child refuses to cover up.
Shapiro is a maternal health expert and the founder of Boober, a platform that provides lactation specialists (among other services) to new moms. It's kind of like Uber for your boobs — except instead of a stranger driving you home from a concert, a stranger drives to your house and tells you how to hold your breast like a sandwich.
Before sharing her tips, Shapiro did want to clarify that she would personally never expect a woman to "cover up" when nursing, as she strongly feels babies have just as much right as anyone else to eat their meal without being forced under a giraffe-patterned blanket or into an Applebees bathroom. However, she totally gets that some people aren't so comfortable with nursing in public, and so is happy to offer some helpful hints.
A heads up — these are tips for making you more comfortable with the situation. I'm afraid there aren't any special tricks for getting your baby to enjoy being under a tent of fabric while he eats. Some kids just don't like having a sheet thrown over their heads while they consume a meal. Which, really, is quite understandable.
"Practice at home first. If you’re feeling worried about latching in public, try a test run (or two or five!) at your kitchen table," says Shapiro. "Practice feeding your baby as though you were at a restaurant. Take your time to figure out how to support your baby when you are not in an armchair. Play with moving your bra, shirt, etc. until latching your baby feels quick and seamless."
"Know your nursing rights. It’s almost always legal to breastfeed in public, and in many places, it’s fully legal to have your full breast and nipple completely exposed," Shapiro says. "If you aren't sure, do a quick Google search to determine the laws where you will be feeding your baby or check out this resource."
Shapiro says it's important to choose the right clothes. "There are a ton of great nursing clothes on the market that make it easy." But if you don't want to drop any cash on shirts with tear-away boob-holes, she says you can always layer: "A tank top under a long shirt makes it easy to have extra fabric covering up your tummy while you nurse."
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And if you really aren't that bothered with how much flesh you flash, she suggests necklines that are stretchy or plunge. "That way you can just push the top down."
A simple suggestion, yes, but also a good one. "Turning away from distractions or unwelcome people may help. Remember, you are just feeding your baby and all people have a right to eat without being stuck in a closet." So true. So yeah, if you feel uncomfortable or like weirdos are staring, just physically turn yourself away from them, and remember that they're the ones being weird, not you. You are merely giving your kid lunch.
It might also help to pretend you're Sigourney Weaver in Alien. That's something I used to do whenever I nursed in public. If I felt shy or bizarre, I would just imagine what Ripley would do if someone told her to "cover up."
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