How To Nurse In Public


You’ve just sat down in a restaurant. You smile at your husband and begin to open your menu. As you start discussing the list of drinks, you hear a whimper and a stir. You look up apologetically at your husband and turn your focus to the baby. The diaper is dry, the pacifier won’t hold, and your baby is licking their lips and shoving their entire first in their mouth. This can only mean one thing so you unbuckle the seat belt or take baby out of the wrap, cradle hold your baby, take out your breast, and watch as baby settles down. You smile at your husband, flip through the menu with your free hand, and continue to discuss dinner options.

Or do you? Too often women shy away from this situation. A situation that is nothing but natural and normal. A common occurrence within the breastfeeding community of women is being uncomfortable nursing in public. For some, it’s a nerve-wracking task and for some it’s like an attached limb they’ve had their whole life. It’s understandable. For years, women’s breasts have been seen sexually rather than biologically. We favor bra ads but shy away from sharing information about breastfeeding. I’ve talked to so many new mothers who are scared of leaving the house because they don’t know what to do in this situation. Hopefully these tips can help:

Start at home. Breastfeeding may be natural but it’s not always easy. If you’re worried about breast exposure, try latching baby on at home and you’ll find you don’t expose much at all. Try different ways out. Try it with a cover and without a cover. Try it with a blanket over your shoulder that you can pull onto baby’s head until latched. Over time, you’ll be a ninja at breastfeeding without exposing much at all. Experiment and find what works for you.

Wear Appropriate Attire
I get disheveled easily. Breastfeeding in public was a snap once I wore more accessible clothing. I highly recommend a nursing bra if you don’t already have one. Besides my breasts and my pump, it’s my most valued breastfeeding tool. These are the best and easiest outfits I’ve found:

– Two piece outfits. Pants, shorts or skirts paired with a nursing bra and a loose top is the easiest outfit and my go-to. Lift your shirt from the bottom and baby can access the breast. You can pull the shirt down enough to cover any breast exposure and help make you more comfortable. If you are uncomfortable about any belly showing, you can wear a belly band or a tank top underneath your shirt.
– Dresses are wonderful as long as they are an easy, flexible material so you can pull down and access the breast.
– If you have the cash, splurge on a couple nursing clothes that already have the holes sewn in.
– Nursing tanks are great too. Buy a couple different colors and wear them with a cover up.

Pick A Comfortable Spot
Breastfeeding in public is so much easier when you find a cozy spot to sit. Making this experience comfortable will help you calm any anxiety you may have. This may mean a fitting room at a retail store, a park bench when walking around, your car at the grocery store, or a restaurant booth. You want enough space for you, your baby, and whatever else you have with you.

Some people will get uncomfortable and feel obliged to say something to you. That is their own personal issue. You are within your rights and the rights of nature. Breastfeeding in public is LEGAL in many places and for good reason. No one has the right to discriminate against you for feeding your child nor can anyone prevent you from doing so. They shouldn’t be asking you to feed elsewhere or disturbing you whatsoever.

If you’re in the states, this site summarizes the statutes for each state.

Act Confident
The trick to anything is acting confident.. even when you aren’t. You know you are doing something crucial for your child’s livelihood so own it. Smile if someone frowns at you. If someone responds negatively, here are some witty comebacks you can use. Remember, not everyone that stares at you, is staring for a negative reason. Some may be genuinely curious. If it’s hard to find your confidence, look at your baby while you’re feeding and remind yourself what’s truly important. You can also join The Badass Breastfeeder for a positive boost and more breastfeeding information and watch this video to give yourself a little laugh.

Just Do It
I know, I know. It’s easier said than done but I promise, once you do it, you’ll be refreshed. You’ll get so used to it, you won’t ever think twice of hiding away in your car or in the restroom. After a couple times, your confidence will be exploding and you’ll be a pro.

Dear Janie Porter, Is It Really That Hard to Look Away?

In response to “Dear Breastfeeding Moms, Is It Really That Hard to Cover Up?

Dear Janie Porter & Offended Public,

As a fellow breastfeeding mother, let me clear up a little confusion for you. I mean you said it yourself, “What’s with all the controversy about nursing in public?” It’s the same question I ask. So let me help break it down for you.

“Is it really that hard to cover up?”

No, it’s not. But it’s easier not to cover up. Is it really that hard to look away? I could easily buy one of those nursing aprons but I won’t. The one and only time I tried nursing in public with a cover was a complete disaster. I was hot, my son was hot, I couldn’t see him, I felt uncomfortable for both me and him. I don’t eat with a blanket over my head and neither should my son.

“Here’s the deal: Strangers don’t want to see your areola. (Yeah, that’s it.)”

Unless what? They’re floating on the big screen? Hanging out in ads and magazines? In porn? In movies? Doing everything sexual except not what their intended purpose is? Which is to feed and nourish a child? Ah, makes absolute sense.

“I’ve nursed my kids in the middle of the fanciest restaurants, at the beach, at the doctor’s office, in the library, the airport, the grocery store, in millions (okay, dozens) of parking lots. One time, I even sat down on a tiny patch of grass to feed my baby on the side of the road.”

I have nursed my son at a Renaissance Faire, multiple restaurants (including a fancy one), at a dentist office, at a doctor’s office, outdoors, etc. Without a cover. Everyone survived, I promise.

“But, I still managed to get a blanket, or at least part of my shirt, to cover my naked nipple while my kids ate. Really, is it that big of a deal?”

Is it that big of a deal if there isn’t a blanket over a women and her child? Truly? Should we start requesting formula feeding moms to put blankets over their head and their child’s because the nipple of a bottle resembles a woman’s nipple? Perhaps we should request a blanket over a child’s head when they suck on a pacifier because that, too, resembles a woman’s nipple?

“The truth is, I don’t want to see your naked boobs. I don’t want my husband to, and come to think of it, my preschool son either.”

What are you going to do about the media? Going to the mall and seeing posters of women in bras? Does your husband not watch porn? And if he doesn’t, has he ever seen a movie with a naked lady in it? Is that okay with you? As long as boobs are not used for their natural function, is it okay? I come across more naked women in a sexualized fashion than I ever have a breastfeeding one.

“That doesn’t mean I’m sexualizing breastfeeding. It means that a naked boob, to most people in our culture, is a sexual thing.

You did sexualize breastfeeding. That statement sexualizes breastfeeding. I’ll leave it at that.

“Your vagina helped make the kid, and I don’t see you flashin’ that around.”

I don’t flash it around because it no longer serves a purpose. My breasts serve a purpose. If my son was about to be birthed in the grocery store, I sure as hell will take my pants off and deliver if I had to. I’m not going to politely ask him to wait until I get to the hospital because it doesn’t work like that.

“Maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m ignorant. Maybe you’re just trying to prove a point, and I just don’t get it. We all do motherhood our own way, and I love that. I really do think it’s a beautiful thing that all moms are different.”

This is the truest, most knowledgeable statement you have made thus far.

See, my 7 year old niece has seen both me and my older sister breastfeeding. She doesn’t bat an eye when we do it. If I’m breastfeeding around her, she goes about her own business. She runs around and plays. She says “Hi Auntie Shayna, Bye Auntie Shayna” hurriedly. We’ve taught her not to be rude and stare. We’ve taught her that this is normal and natural. She cares just as much as she cares about bottle feeding a baby or watching me eat which is zero.

I don’t plan on covering myself up because I don’t need to. I’m not flaunting my “tits”, I’m feeding my child. If that offends you, you should not only look away but you should look within. I nurse without a cover for myself, for my child, for society, and for the women that want to but can’t. I hold my head high and I stand with all breastfeeding moms. I stand with them however they choose to: with a cover, without a cover, in a bottle, by breast, with formula, donated, etc. We should be empowering women and educating them, not bringing them down.

I know that I’ll be teaching my son not to objectify women and see them as only sexual beings. I’m sorry your son won’t be learning the same lesson.


A Fellow Breastfeeding Mother That Really Doesn’t Have Anything to Get


Shayna Shattelroe

25 years old. Mama to Maddox. Word weaver. Lover of love. Coffee addict. Psychological science student. 

A woman of curious nature, my name is Shayna. I am wild & reserved. Humbled & proud. Quiet & clamorous. Strange & familiar. I live in the trees of New England typing away as lifestyle blogger. You can always find me with a coffee cup in one hand and a book in the other.

Blogging since 2005, I’ve had an innumerable amount of blogs on a vast number of platforms. Finally, I’ve found one to call home: The Lovely Cicada. This blog is a piece of myself I extend to you.