While you are with family and close friends with whom you feel comfortable, you may not worry about whipping out your boob when it's time to feed your baby. However, I know many women are very uncomfortable with the idea of breastfeeding in public, and many will just pump and give the pumped milk in a bottle when out in public. You can do this, but it takes away the convenience of breastfeeding - just having it ready, any time, all the time!
There are all kinds of things you can do to feed discreetly in public and I think I tried just about all of them.
First is investing in some nursing bras; you will need them whether you want to be discreet or not because they give easy access. These have been around for ages (I remember my stepmother wearing them when feeding my siblings when I was very young, which was a VERY long time ago!).
What has become more mainstream in the past couple of decades is tops that have breast access. Yes, there are actually nursing tops. Some of them are God-awful, but some can be quite fashionable. Most of your favorite maternity stores will carry them, or all you have to do is search, "breastfeeding tops" or "nursing tops" online and you'll find an endless supply. You can also check out tops I love here
In the first six months, when you are exclusively feeding your baby breastmilk, these tops are a lifesaver. They have a discreet opening somewhere, so you don't have to lift your whole shirt up around your neck to give your baby access to your breast. If you are really uncomfortable with the idea of feeding in public, get one of these tops and try it at home first. Once you get the hang of it, you will find that no one will even notice you have a baby on the breast!
There is also a breastfeeding apron. Someone gave me one of these as a gift when I had my little girl, but honestly, it wasn't my favorite. It did give me some flexibility in what I could wear (it could be a strapless top, for example), but I found the thing hot and my daughter kept pulling it to the side like she was playing peekaboo.
Perhaps it works fine if your baby is too small to pull the apron to the side, but it's also not very discreet, if you are worried about that. It's rather obvious what's going on when you hang a big apron around your neck. Not that you need to hide that you are breastfeeding, but it's just nice to continue what you are doing with no one being the wiser.
Baby carriers and other baby-wearing devices are more known for transporting your baby or "wearing" your baby, but they are also excellent as discreet breastfeeding devices while in public. I carried both of my babies in carriers for over a year – my son in a forward-facing carrier and my daughter in a sling. Not only did I love that it let me have my hands free, but I could do just about everything with them in the the carrier (well not EVERYTHING!), like cooking (not at the stove!), watering the plants, hiking, shopping, etc.
How do you breastfeed with your baby in a carrier, you ask? Well, in a forward-facing carrier, remember that your baby can face out, but can also face in. Normally, facing in is reserved for very wee ones, but the position can be used at any age. You just turn your baby around, lower the straps so that he is at breast level and let him latch on. I walked all around Manhattan with my son like that. I even did a tour of a naval ship with him like that and no one was the wiser.
This is when those discrete breastfeeding tops come in handy because no one can see your boob or that the baby is latched on. It just looks like your baby is sleeping or chilling. Very sneaky and works like a charm!
When my son was around 13 months old, I discovered the sling and loved it because it helped support his heavy weight on my hip. When I had my daughter, I mostly used the sling, and I loved the sling too. You don't have both hands completely free, like with the forward-facing carrier (which I still used for hikes and when I needed both hands free), but it's awesome for holding your baby close, at home or in public, and no one can see if she's feeding at the breast because her head is nestled in the sling. You can switch the sling to either shoulder, so you can nurse on both breasts.
In the end, it's all up to you. Whatever you prefer, whatever is easier, more convenient, most comfortable for you is what's best. Use your registry to your advantage and let friends and family purchase these items for you. Check out https://www.heathermichellenutritionist.com/stuffilove where I share what I used with my babies.
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