October 1, 2014

What’s The Big Deal With Nursing In Public?

A friend recently posted a blog post written by their pastor’s wife about nursing in public.  I knew I probably shouldn’t read it but I did anyway.  I was actually pleasantly surprised by most of the post but the very end got me as it was exactly what I expected.  I let it get to me and I shouldn’t have but I am so dang tired of being told to cover up when nursing.  I am a Christian and think that modesty is important.  I do my best to dress modestly.  I think that we shouldn’t be shaming moms for how they decide to feed their babies.  For me, it boils down to this: If you want to nurse covered, go for it.  If you want to nurse uncovered, go for it.  Why are we projecting what we think is right on someone else?

Many Waters Nursing In Public

I guess I don’t see what the big deal is.  Sure there are going to be some women who let a breast flop around while nursing but the majority of women who nurse aren’t in it to show off their breasts.  They simply want to feed their babies.  Honestly, you see more boobage on TV and walking around the mall today then you do when a mom is nursing her baby in public. I get most people see breasts as sexual but let’s not forget that they have more than one purpose. If you really have a problem with it, look away.  

I will admit that before I had a baby, I was on the “You should just cover up!” boat too.  Then I had baby.  I had two covers and I tried using them.  It was a disaster.  A complete and utter disaster. Munchkin hated being covered up.  She couldn’t see and it was hot.  She spent more time trying to wave her arms to get rid of it and I couldn’t get her to focus on latching and eating.  I’m a larger chested woman and to use the cover I needed more hands to keep it in place. It was hard to hold the baby, hold my breast so she could stay latched and keep the cover in place.  I drew more attention to myself using it than I did just nursing her.  There are times I would go nurse in the car or find some secluded place.  That worked for while but eventually there comes a time when that’s not an option.  What’s a mom to do?  JUST NURSE YOUR BABY!  Forget everyone else around you and do what you need to do to take care of your kiddo.

I was super uncomfortable nursing without a cover at first.  Three things helped: practice, time and support.  The more I practiced, at home and out in public, the easier it got to nurse without a cover.  At home I used a pillow or a boppy so I had to learn how to not use one.  Time also helped, as Munchkin got bigger and we both got the kinks worked out of what we were doing.  The older she got the easier it was to be quick and efficient in latching her on.  The support of The Man was also invaluable. He totally encouraged me to just nurse and was ready to come to my defense if anyone was to say anything (which no one ever did.)  My clothing choice also helped.  Every day I wore a tank top under my shirt.  That way my stomach and the other breast would stay covered and when I pulled up my shirt, it helped cover the top part of my breast. 

Many Waters Nursing in Starbucks

When Munchkin was just over a  year old, The Man & I helped with VBS at our church.  I was teaching one of the classes and The Man dressed up as Moses to help me out.  Munchkin was with us.  We were in the room I was using setting up and Munchkin wanted to nurse, so I plopped on the floor and she ate.  Our pastor popped in and wanted to take a photo of us with The Man dressed up, so he had him stand behind me and he took the picture.  It wasn’t until he was looking at it on the camera that he realized I was nursing!  I wasn’t covered but YOU COULDN'T SEE ANYTHING. 

I guess I’m just wondering why I have to cover up to not offend anyone.  What about my baby.  Don’t they matter too?  I applaud the pastor’s wife for not nursing the bathroom and I won’t either.  But should we all eat covered up?  How would we like it?  I know I wouldn’t like it so why do we think our babies do?  Why are we shaming the women who don’t cover up?  I don’t think they are doing anything wrong.  They just want to feed their baby.  You want to cover up, great, do it.  But I don’t…why is that wrong?  Nursing covered or uncovered, both work!

So please Mamas, feed your babies in whatever way works for you.  I don’t care how you’re feeding them as long as it’s age appropriate food (no milk, mashed potatoes or water for a newborn, for example!)  If you’re feeding them formula, you’re doing a great job.  If you’re feeding breast milk out of a bottle, you’re doing a great job.  If you’re nursing covered, you’re doing a great job.  If you’re nursing uncovered, you’re doing a great job.  Let’s affirm each other instead of tearing each other down and saying what the “right” way to feed a baby is.  The truth is there is no one right way and not every family is the same.  Figure out what works for you and DO THAT!   


  1. I actually consider the way you're nursing your little one to be appropriately and modestly covered. It's how I nursed my three in public as well, several decades ago. I don't think we need to expect moms to hide their babies under a cloth "tent" to be able to nurse them anywhere.

    I do however think that some of the "in your face" activist moms at various nurse-ins that wear clothing that needs to move from the top down (like tube tops) make it more challenging for nursing in public to be widely accepted.

    A totally agree with what you said, that "the majority of women who nurse aren’t in it to show off their breasts". Unfortunately, the small percentage who consider revealing themselves to be their right make it tougher for everybody else......

  2. Even the current Pope came out in support of breastfeeding however a mother feels comfortable. His comment was (paraphrasing) "If the baby is hungry, feed him."

  3. I've never been directly confronted except when I was completely uncovered (around other nursing moms) and one of the women's husbands walked in and the wife ushered him out. I didn't even realize why until I looked down. Look, I have to feed my baby and I nurse. So I'll do what I want and 99% of the time you can't see anything. I think there's a "big deal" because of the few who expose their entire breast in public and make a scene. Like the woman who wanted to fly with her infant, called AHEAD to make sure it was "ok" to fly uncovered, then called management, and talked to the flight attendants about it, then complained when a passenger said something. I don't think it's a big deal and after nursing three children, often in public and only using a cover 30% of the time, I barely get a stare.

  4. I totally agree, as I am baffled that I even felt I had to write this! In all honestly, I'll probably cover in the beginning with my second daughter as it is awkward in the beginning but once we get the hang of it it will be what works best for us. Also, I think nursing in public, however it works for you, helps normalize it.

    Thanks for visiting:)

  5. I've gotten a few looks but no one has ever said anything to me about it, thankfully. I do live in a pretty crunchy part of the country though and breastfeeding feels a little more normal here than it has to me in other places.

  6. I had forgotten about that...something I agree with him about:)

  7. It's much harder with a newborn! It will get easier as the two of you figure it out together:) And go Stevie, for nursing where is comfortable for YOU. Keep it up Mama!

    PS. How's the Moby working?

  8. Thank you. I think so too, which is why I think I get frustrated when I've been told to cover up (never while nursing but in a more general way). And Yes, I agree about the women who have to let it all hang out. They really do ruin it for everyone else. And when nursing I do consider my wardrobe more as I don't want to have to pull something down and reveal my whole chest! Some of the nursing friendly clothing, while it does make it easy to nurse, shows too much for me!

  9. I always found that loose-fitting tops/pullovers worked well for me, and the drape of the fabric kept me well-covered without getting in the way of my little nursing person. It meant that if I wanted to be "dressed-up", it involved wearing skirts and tops rather than dresses for a few years, but that was no great sacrifice! :-)


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