So, your baby is obsessed with your boobs. Congratulations. What’s not always so great is how they get hungry anytime, anywhere, and won’t be cajoled into waiting until you get to a comfortable, private place. Which means unless you plan to spend the next year inside your house, you’ll have to feed your kid when you’re out and about (among a society that’s also obsessed with your boobs, albeit in a different way). Here’s how to do it in a way that will keep jerks from saying anything and also keep your kid (and your ta-tas) happy.
1) Wear Layers.
When you’re nursing your kid, you’re really not all that exposed (once you get the hang of it, of course). After that first latch, junior pretty much shields the world from your shameful, shameful body, but this is especially more the case if you wear layers. Nursing tanks are great for this (and like $12 at Target). Try to get one that has a strip of fabric above your breast-al region, too. And wear a hoodie or a drapey shirt over that so you have additional fabric to work with if you really want to stay hidden. Scarves are good, too, but keep in mind that once your kid is like four months old, s/he will just tug at it or pull it off and render any shielding it’s doing moot.
2) Wear Your Baby.
Babies in slings, wraps and carriers are easy to ninja nurse, but you’ll want to practice at home first. Strangers will comment on their cute hair, how well behaved they are and their chubby legs, all the while not noticing that your little sweetheart is sucking away. I’ve had people come right up to my son wanting to see his face and not realize he was snacking until he pulled off with milk on his chin. Ninja nursing has the added benefit of freeing your hands so you can grocery shop, peruse the library stacks, pay your bus fare… whatever.
3) Know Where You Can Sit.
Most big-box stores have a home furnishing section. Know where it is, and go there and sit on the sofa. If there isn’t a furnishing section, find a bench or a stool. Most U.S. states have laws that specifically allow you to breastfeed in any public or private location, though only a few states will punish companies for not complying. (For more details on that, visit this La Leche League page.) While a store is not obligated to provide you a place to sit specifically to feed your baby, you can always ask. If worst comes to worst, there’s always a fitting room.
4) Ignore the Haters.
I know I’ve been lucky. Western Washington, where I live, is pretty damn granola and secular AND has an enforceable breastfeed-wherever-you-are law (meaning that I could lawyer up if I felt discriminated against). I haven’t had many experiences with public judgment while I’ve nursed my son, and I went into it expecting to need to hone my verbal combat skills. Only once, when he was about a month old, did a woman say, “Gross!” to her friend, but she was young and dumb and I just laughed it off as ignorance. Mostly, I get absolutely no response. I also have gotten very good at getting him on and off quickly, and he’s efficient now, to boot, so it’s just not a thing anymore. BUT. I know that’s not the case for everyone. If you get lip from someone, calmly state that your baby is hungry and you will be feeding him or her. Know your rights where you live and cite what you know.
5) Don’t Worry Too Much If You Leave it All Hanging Out.
I was in a restaurant with my partner, my cousin, a friend and my cousin’s boyfriend. We were eating. (I had shrimp and grits.) At one time, kid was nursing in the carrier. Kid fell asleep. I forgot to “close up shop,” and things were left exposed for probably longer than I care to admit. You know what? No one noticed. And if they did, they politely turned away. I felt like giving Puritanical Americans more credit after that day. Sure, some states might be pretty backwards with their keep-the-shame-at-home laws, but when it comes down to it, most people don’t care that your feeding your kid with your sexy, sexy, juggs.