Thoughtful Thursday: Nursing in Public

We are giving a new blog feature a try.  Here is our first “Thoughtful Thursday”: Reflections on things that have worked for our family

breastfeedingcafecarnivalWelcome to The Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival!

This post was written as part of the Breastfeeding Cafe’s Carnival. For more info on the Breastfeeding Cafe, go to For more info on the Carnival or if you want to participate, contact Claire at clindstrom2 {at} gmail {dot} com. Today’s post is breastfeeding in public. Please read the other blogs in today’s carnival listed below and check back for more posts July 22nd through August 4th!

Thanks to the efforts of groups like the Breastfeeding Café, more mothers who breastfeed know it is okay to feed their hungry babies wherever and whenever they are.  I have been the beneficiary of all the groundwork laid by groups that are hard at work to normalize breastfeeding.

Here are the tips that helped me gain confidence as a breastfeeding mother who fed her baby outside of the home, as well as some that I have seen our Bradley Method® students use successfully:

  • Attend a La Leche League or other support group meeting so you can see what nursing looks like.  You will see people nursing lots of different ways, and maybe you will see a style of nursing that looks like it will work for you.  There are nursing covers, nursing shawls, nursing ponchos, nursing wear that lifts up, tank tops with easy access, the list goes on.  You will see mamas ditching it all and simply lifting their breast out of their shirt and offering it to their nursling…seeing it in action may help you decide what you want to try first.
  • Go out with your partner or a friend the first few times you nurse in public.  Especially as a new mom, it’s very stressful to have your baby crying, feeling like you can’t move fast enough, and you are all slippery-fingered from sweat and “flusteration” (flustered and frustrated at the same time!).  Your support person can help you get organized while providing moral and physical support, reminding you that you are not alone.
  • Find out where other nursing moms go because they have found them to be baby/breastfeeding friendly.  Your local mamas will know who has a nice lounge in the women’s room (Nordstrom’s near us has one), or where to go where there are changing tables and comfy chairs (i.e., IKEA family restrooms have a room separate from the commode, Babies R’Us nursing rooms).  Check in with the mamas at the support group and they can probably rattle off a list of shops, restaurants and other businesses that you can go without feeling intimidated.
  • Travel as a pack with your mama tribe.  One MotherBaby pair is easy to pick on.  Two women will give someone who is thinking of saying something pause.  Three or more MotherBabys in a group and I am guessing you will be left alone, especially if one or more of you are nursing your baby as needed.  You also have a trusted companion to keep an eye on you (nothing showing that you don’t want showing as you NIP) or your baby (maybe you need to use the ladies’ room) as needed.
  • Know your rights as a breastfeeding mama under the law (click HERE for a state by state look).  Forty-five states* in the US have laws on the books that protect your right to breastfeed wherever you are lawfully present.  Some states take it even further and put fines in place so that anyone who harasses a breastfeeding MotherBaby is held accountable.  If you are approached, kindly inform the messenger that you and your baby are lawfully present as you are.  Would they like to be reassigned to a different section (i.e., if you are at a restaurant), or would the complaining party like to be relocated?
Do you have a business card to hand someone who questions your right to breastfeed?  If not, contact me and I will send you one.

There is no such thing as “lawfully breastfeeding”. The question is, “Does this state protect my right to breastfeed with law(s)?”

When I look at what is most important about this topic is for mamas, I believe it is to be liberated from nursing in their car or the public bathroom just so that they don’t offend anyone.  Especially new mamas who are already worried enough about what they are and aren’t doing right…a basic necessity like meeting hunger needs should be easy and carefree for them.  As a society, we need to grow up and just let them nurse already, without having it become a major news story!

Closing thought:
You do not need permission to breastfeed somewhere.  It is a human right for a MotherBaby to feed and receive nourishment in accordance with Nature’s design.

What is your tip that has helped you with breastfeeding more confidently in public?

* Idaho, Michigan, South Dakota, Virginia have protection from indecency laws, but there is nothing that specifically allows a mother’s right to breastfeed at any public or private location.  West Virginia has nothing on the books in regards to nursing in public.


Here are more post by the Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival participants! Check back because more will be added throughout the day.

5 thoughts on “Thoughtful Thursday: Nursing in Public

  1. Pingback: Normalizing Breastfeeding by Nursing in Public | the BREASTFEEDING CAFE

  2. dizzyrat

    I really like your sentiment that no one gives you right to breastfeed, you always have the right and the laws are more about protection. Like breathing.

  3. Post author

    So true. We have to keep on normalizing breastfeeding until everyone understands that to the MotherBaby, it *is* just like breathing.

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  5. Pingback: [BLOCKED BY STBV] Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival: Breastfeeding in Public (AKA The Curious Nursling)

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