Nursing When Away From Home

on March 30, 2014 in Breastfeeding, Nursing In Public

When you are planning to go out with your nursing child, you may have some fears about nursing when your baby needs to feed. Your nursing baby can go with you almost anywhere—and with a lot less hassle than you would face if you were fussing with formula and bottles.

You may feel comfortable nursing in the presence of family or friends you are visiting, or you may be a bit uneasy. You can always retreat to the bedroom, of course, but that’s not much fun. Learning to nurse discreetly and without embarrassment will put most people at ease. You might want to practice ahead of time getting the baby on your breast with a blanket or shawl draped over your shoulder and the baby’s head. If you wear a shirt or a sweater you can pull up, or if you unbutton your blouse from the bottom, you will expose less of yourself. Most maternity shops carry a line of attractive tops and dresses designed for discreet nursing. Try nursing in front of your partner or in front of a mirror so you’ll know what others will see. There are also nursing covers available for purchase that cover the baby but allow you to look down at him while feeding.

If you are going out for the day or spending a few hours in town, you may want to nurse just before you leave. A couple of diapers and a few moist wipes in a sandwich bag, and you’re off. If you are using a cloth baby carrier, you may find it easier to put it on before you go.

After a couple of hours out, look around for a comfortable place to sit with your baby. Many mothers feel comfortable nursing in public places and are hardly noticed when they do so. Some stores and restaurants have dressing rooms or pleasant restrooms where you may prefer to feed the baby.

If you are planning to fly, you might try to reserve bulkhead seating; this will give you extra space. Try to choose a flight that is lightly booked. This way you are more likely to get an empty seat next to you for more room and privacy.

Many first time mothers worry about whether they will be bothered by others while they are nursing out of the house by being asked to cover up or leave.  Mothers may have heard of others who have been harassed when they nurse their children in public.  But know that most states have laws protecting the rights of nursing mothers in public.  Federal laws state that a woman may breastfeed her child at any location in a Federal building or on Federal property, if the woman and her child are otherwise authorized to be present at the location.  Most states have similar laws protecting the rights of nursing mothers with a couple of exceptions.  As of this writing, only two states, West Virginia and Idaho, have no laws protecting a mother’s right to nurse in public.  The other states have protection laws that vary in their language.   You can find your state’s laws at nursingfreedom.org.