Having your first child is daunting enough on its own. But thinking about how to feed that child while out in public can be a different level of concerning. Suddenly a private matter between you and your child is on display, even if you’re being as discreet as possible.
Your first step is to think about your level of comfort. Are you comfortable with people knowing that you are breastfeeding your child, and doing it right at that moment? If not, then you may have to try and make some adjustments to your schedule so that you can be in a private place when you need to feed your child. It is not recommended that you breastfeed in a bathroom, nor is it legal for anyone to ask you to do so (see below). The Affordable Care Act makes provisions so that women do not have to pump in a bathroom at work due to sanitary concerns. If the government has created a law because pumping is unsanitary in a bathroom, taking an infant into the bathroom to feed can only be less sanitary.
Some pubic bathrooms have antechambers, a room before the room with the toilets, that mothers may find acceptable. Some malls and airports have specific breastfeeding/pumping rooms available. There are also dressing rooms, or in a pinch, the backseat of the car (be sure to keep the windows down in warm weather and consider investing in shades for the windows for privacy and to keep the sun off both of you).
If you feel comfortable with it, you can purchase a variety of covers to use while nursing in public. These can range from simple large, thin blankets, to fashionable scarves that can be worn all day and unwound to be used as a cover, or specific nursing covers that have flexible plastic near the mom’s neck hole that can allow the baby to maintain eye contact with you. Your author, a nursing mother, recommends Udder Covers.
But nursing covers can be inconvenient, hot and the baby may not like having something draped over them. Nearly all 50 states have laws that specifically state you can breastfeed your baby wherever and whenever you like, though they’re not all very clear about whether or not a cover needs to be used (you can find more here). Many women choose to breastfeed in public without a cover despite the murky laws. Do what feels right to you. Covers should be used because they make the mother more comfortable, they shouldn’t be used to make anyone else more comfortable.
What are your best tips for new moms? Leave them in the comments below!