After your first week home with your baby, you may begin to feel confident enough to try getting out of the house for more than a few hours. However, this means you may be faced with one of the personal struggles that every breastfeeding mother has to confront. Breastfeeding in public. Here are a few options for ways to address the awkward situation.
1. The invisi-boob.
This strategy is great once you master it. Basically, you lift just enough of one section of your shirt to let your baby latch on, Then you hold your little sweet potato over any bare skin on your midriff, and your shirt drapes right down to your baby's mouth, so no one can see a thing, but you don't have to wrestle with a big blanket either. The tricky part of this technique is getting your baby latched on without showing skin. I recommend practicing at home first, and wearing something with a little room in it.
2. Strategic scarf placement.
This is a play on the old "drape the baby blanket" method, but a bit more stylish. In this method, you just drape one end of a nice fashionable scarf you are wearing specifically for this purpose over the most exposed part of your breast to camouflage your baby's lunchtime activity. This strategy is best for moms who are not embarrassed to be breastfeeding in public, but also do not want to be ogled by ignorant folks who may not be able to keep their opinions to themselves.
3. Inside a baby-wrap carrier.
This is a great way to have both a touch of privacy, and a great amount of freedom. Your baby is well supported, and you are completely covered. The difficult part of this method is getting the latch. You will need to have your carrier tied a little more loosely than normal on top so that you can reach in from the sides to both hold your breast in an accessible position, and guide your baby's head to the nipple. Once you have a good latch, make sure your baby's face isn't pressed to tightly against your breast or he may not be able to breath comfortably. Once your little "joey" is suckling away, you will have at least one hand free, and be able to walk around while nursing. I like "Sugar Sweet Baby" baby wraps. They are fashionable, comfortable and made of bamboo cloth which is naturally antibacterial.
4. Under a decorative cover up.
There are many brands of hide-a-boob cover-ups out there. Most do a great job of shielding the outsider's view, and some actually still allow you to have a clear view. Being able to see what is going on with your baby while he is nursing is a very valuable feature, if you do choose to go with one of these, look for one that has good consumer reviews about being able to view the baby.
5. Bold brash and bare.
To try this option you need to be confident of your body, very proud of your roll as a breastfeeding mom and be able to separate your personal sense of modesty from your baby's meal times. Other people will give you looks, some will even make nasty comments, but the more normal people who are out there proudly nursing their babies in public, the less strange and out of place it will become. Besides being a breastfeeding activist, this option is great because you can clearly see your baby, your baby can see you and you don't have to wrestle with any cloth. Obviously, it would be great if all nursing mothers could just whip out a boob like they do at home, without any social backlash or personal embarrassment. But until that day, only the bravest and most secure breastfeeding mothers will probably feel comfortable being this brave. However you decide to go about breastfeeding, the most important part is that you ARE breastfeeding.
Hopefully, if you have been worried or intimidated at the prospect of venturing out into the world because of the difficulty of public nursing, you will now have a couple viable options for things to try. Happy "World Breastfeeding Week"! If you have found these tips to be helpful, please forward them to any new or expecting parents you know. Questions, comments and suggestions are always welcome. Happy parenting!