feeling shy? the nine best places to nurse on the go
plus tips for stealth breastfeeding
Ask a breastfeeding mom about the first time they nursed at a busy restaurant during brunch, or out with the baby alone in public, and chances are you’ll hear some vivid stories. These experiences really stick with us—like the first day of school or at a new job. Soon enough you become fluent in feeding on the go. You might even be one of those ninja moms who can stealth nurse in a carrier, hands-free, walking your dog on a snowy day. Something to aspire to! Until you get good enough to nurse anywhere, anytime, here some safe places to feed on the go if you’re feeling shy—beyond your car. A quick word about your wardrobe before we get started: always wear breastfeeding-friendly clothes. Sadly dresses are out for now; hike one up in public and you’ll expose way more than you want to. You can either buy breastfeeding-specific clothing like nursing tanks (these cover your stomach and only expose what baby needs) or layer stretchy tank tops and shirts. Dressed well, now it’s time to venture out.
- Big box stores. Many big box stores that sell kid gear have family diaper changing stations. Some of these will have a comfortable chair, some won’t. Some will also be cleaner than others. If the store happens to sell items like cribs and rocking chairs, take a load off by “testing” a glider. If you angle your baby right, she’ll cover your nipples. Not sure how? Practice at home in front of a mirror. And keep in mind the law is on your side. Most if not all states have laws that protect moms breastfeeding in public.
- Furniture stores. When the need strikes, what could be better than a room full of upholstered chairs and couches? If you’re feeling uncomfortable, look for the part of the store with the kid-related furniture and set up shop there. You will not be the first or the last mom to do so, and you might even run into other nursing moms. Ah, safety in numbers.
- Bathroom lounges—but not stalls! High-end department stores often have lovely lounges outside but connected to their bathrooms where shoppers can put their feet up, reapply some lipstick, and/or make a phone call. These are perfect for the nursing mother. Don’t attempt to nurse your baby in an actual bathroom stall; that’s icky for all involved. And so not needed! Bonus if you sit down next to a grandmother who tells you stories about her own breastfeeding days.
- Anywhere kids are welcome. Toy stores know it’s good business to cater to nursing moms. Feel free to nurse in any store that caters to kids. And if you happen to have another kid or two, they will be well entertained as you sit and nurse.
- Libraries and bookstores. Have you ever been to a baby or toddler story hour at the local library? Nursing central! You will be in very good company if you feed your baby in the kid’s section of the library or even a bookstore. Older siblings will also have something to do while they wait for their baby sister or brother to fill up.
- Bra and lingerie stores. Any shop that sells maternity or nursing gear welcomes nursing moms with open arms. Sometimes they even offer you water! Such luxury to be understood by strangers.
- Public parks, including playgrounds. When the weather is nice, it’s lovely to nurse outside. If it makes you more comfortable, seek out an empty bench facing away from passing traffic (cyclists, runners, walkers). If the idea of nursing outside in public gives you pause, step into a children’s playground. You’ll find your people there!
- Cafes. When you’re out to brunch with your family and friends, it’s easy to feel like you can nurse. There are lots of people to shield you, and divert eyes away from you. When you’re alone getting a cup of coffee or tea in a café, you might feel less secure. But you should feel free. There are plenty of cafes—national chains and beloved local spots—with comfortable chairs that are perfectly fine places to feed a baby. If your neighborhood has a lot of kids, you can rest assured anywhere serving coffee in the middle of the day is fair game.
- Museums and galleries. You can sit down at a cafe in a museum, or even find a lounge attached to a bathroom. But you can also nurse standing up as you look at art. This requires figuring out how to slide your baby around in the carrier so your nipple and their mouth line up. It’s a little awkward, but tutorials and even videos abound online. Once you get this move down, your baby largely just looks like they do when they’re asleep in the carrier. No one is the wiser.