In a perfect world, women would feel comfortable to breastfeed anytime, anywhere. But the reality is that some women feel more comfortable breastfeeding when they use a nursing cover or locate a more secluded area to breastfeed. Just as women have a right to breastfeed anytime, anywhere, anyhow, women also have a right to feel comfortable when they breastfeed. The following are tips and tricks other moms have found helpful when they breastfeed in public:
Practice at home in front of a mirror. When you get the hang of breastfeeding, you'll become a pro at shifting your shirt to feed your baby. If you're concerned about showing too much while breastfeeding around others, practice at home in front of a mirror. You'll probably find that the amount of skin you show is very little. Don't believe me? Check out the pictures on this mama's blog.
Buy a good nursing shirt. A good breastfeeding shirt will make you feel like Houdini. With a bit of practice, it allows you to feed baby quickly, easily, and modestly.
Enlist support. Discuss with your partner about how you will breastfeed in public. Your partner could feel awkward at first too, and that's ok, especially if it's a new experience for you both.
Spend some time around other breastfeeding moms. See how they handle nursing in public. Find out what worked to make them feel most comfortable.
Feed your baby in a carrier. Wearing a Moby wrap? An Ergo? A Hotsling? With some adjustment, baby carriers can position baby to breastfeed while providing an effective cover, too.
Focus inward. If you don't look around for the reaction of others, you won't find any. Just like if you were out in public with your nose in a book, few people would bother you. If you're solely focused on your baby, you won't have time to worry about what others may think.
Find a secluded area. Ask for a corner table at a restaurant, find an empty park bench, book a window seat on a plane -- if you're concerned about peering eyes, find a spot that's away from the main stream of traffic.
Wear a nursing cover. There are so many to choose from these days. A nursing ensures that you will be 100% covered, which some moms appreciate. However, it can become cumbersome as baby grows and is more aware of her surroundings. She may not like being covered.
Prepare your response. If you're worried about negative feedback from strangers, prepare your response in advance. There are some very witty comebacks floating around the internet. Check out this great list.
Know your rights. While public harassment for breastfeeding is not as common as you may think, it does happen sometimes. If it happens to you, know that you have rights and know what those rights are. The site Breastfeeding Law has a list of rights, state by state, as well as rights about pumping in the workplace, federal laws surrounding breastfeeding, and up-to-date information on current legislation.
Know that most people think you're doing an awesome thing. For the few naysayers, there are even more positive people out there who think you're a great mom. Believe in what you're doing, feel confident about feeding your baby, and keep on keepin' on.