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Breastfeeding in Public: How I Became Brave

When my eldest son, Liam, was born, I decided to breastfeed. What I didn’t know is that it would feel as if I needed a master’s degree to learn how to do it properly. I had a tough time. In those first few days of figuring it out, I would literally break into cold sweats before feeding my screaming, red faced baby. Those early days were long and the nights late, but I didn’t want to give up. My mom encouraged me to check out a breastfeeding support group; it was there that I met some of my dearest friends.

We formed what we all affectionately refer to as “The Boob Group.” The power of those women gave me the courage to nurse discreetly in public, as opposed to hiding in my apartment. Without their encouragement and advice, I would not have been brave enough to do it. I armed myself with some nursing accessories and hit the streets of NYC. Here are a few of my favorite finds:

The Hooter Hider (gotta love the name) is the perfect nursing coverup. The boning at the top keeps the neckline open, allowing you to maintain eye contact with your baby. The cotton is airy enough for ventilation to keep the baby cool. These coverups make flashing at a park bench a non issue.

I loved the Glamourmom nursing tanks. They have a built-in nursing bra with excellent support. The tanks are long enough, so they cover the postpartum tummy. Genius!

I had every color of the Bravado Silk Seamless bra, and I found the Medela Seamless Softcup bra to be super comfy. I wore a lot of white button down shirts. I would simply unbutton from the top down. So easy! If you do decide to breastfeed your baby, The Nursing Mother’s Companion is a handy book to have on your bedside table.

I leave you with this, if you’re still feeling nervous or shy, “fake it till you make it”—you will build confidence the more you practice in public. Breastfeeding in public can be controversial; not everyone is comfortable with it, but rest assured, most states have laws that protect your rights to breastfeed. If you want to find out what the rule is where you live, check out the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Do you have tips or stories about nursing in public? I’d love to hear them.

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  1. I do admit that I was very uncomfortable nursing in public at first, but NOT nursing in public takes the convenience out of breastfeeding! Breastfeeding provides not only great food for your baby, but the convenience for mom in not having to carry bottles around. Once you get over your fear of nursing in public, breastfeeding becomes EVEN MORE rewarding! -shun

  2. Howdy very nice web site!! Guy .. Excellent .. Wonderful .. I’ll bookmark your blog and take the feeds also?I’m satisfied to search out numerous helpful info here in the publish, we’d like work out extra strategies on this regard, thanks for sharing. . . . . .

  3. avatar Carly says:

    Great tips! I am going out and buying one of those Glamourmom tanks. I’m due in January, and definitely nervous about breastfeeding in public. But you’re right, who wants to be stuck in their apartment all day, when baby is so uber-portable? ;)

  4. avatar Amanda says:

    I wish I had of read this when I was nursing! Great tips I will pass to my pregnant friends! Thanks!

  5. avatar Lucy says:

    Great article, nursing was not an issue for me and I would go shopping, get my hair done and nurse when I had to. I have to say I didnt have anyone give me a hard time. I have noticed more and more places having a specific spot for nursing mums which is great and with all these ingenious ideas no need to stay in hiding. from your fan in T.O

  6. avatar Cynda says:

    I do the same thing. I love the bravado nursing tanks because I’m large and need lots of support… I always wear a shirt I can pull up because again because I’m so big I like the extra coverage!

  7. I love this post. I was so nervous to nurse in public for the first few months. I would time my errands with the baby so that I was always home on time for feedings and never too far. Until one day when I was at the mall, the baby had just been fed 20min before and I thought I was in the clear. WRONG! baby J started crying and crying and CRYING! I had no choice but to feed him on a bench in the middle of the shopping mall. And although I had the hooter hider, he hated it, so I had to take it off and just deal with it. I guess you can say, he broke me in pretty quickly, because after that I just stopped caring. Nursing is natural and should be encouraged…that’s my take on it at least.

  8. Great article. I used to throw my daughters blanket over us both and voila, a perfect discreet little comfy zone for mama and baby. How anyone can get offended by discreet nursing is beyond me. Some people just love to complain. How do they think they were fed when they were babies? duh!

  9. avatar Maria says:

    Brava! Breastfeed with confidence! And if anyone (at the next table) should look at you with indignation, just point out that “they’re eating, so why shouldn’t your child”?!

    Johanna, great article and links…thanks!

  10. avatar Mina says:

    Great tips! I’ll definitely pass these along to first time moms!

  11. avatar Hanna says:

    I always thought I wouldn’t nurse in public…until I realized that she ate all the time and took foreeeever. And I didn’t feel like staying home for months. And she hated to be covered up. I don’t think I ever flashed anyone…much. I would wear a tank under my shirt, so shirt went up, tank went down…no skin.

  12. avatar Melisa says:

    I remember being so clumsy the first few times I breastfed in public. I love the “fake it” advice until your comfortable – sooo true! Great tips Johanna!

  13. Cristen,


    Sorry if this is a weird comment from a guy, but it always surprises me when I hear stories about women getting a hard time about breastfeeding in public. It’s ridiculous. And, Cristen, not only can women lounge in bikinis, in many states it is completely legal to lounge topless. Checkout @toplesspulp on twitter, a group of women in NY exercising their right to do so, while reading. Obviously, that’s a bit different than breastfeeding, but if these women can go topless why can’t you breastfeed, a perfectly natural, life sustaining act.

    I’ve also heard of amusement parks and restaurants not allowing women to breastfeed and to that I say you have the power. Choose not to patronize them, tell your friends the same, take it online, and call the news. Enough bad press and they’ll change their neanderthal minds.

    As a side note, and i’m not sure if you allow links in your comments because this is my first time here, I’m giving away a tommee tippee electric breast pump on my site. You can find it at

  14. avatar Sue says:

    I can’t wait to share this article with all my pregnant friends! Thanks for including so much information in one spot.

  15. avatar Fox says:

    Great article on keeping abreast of the times!

  16. avatar Rachel says:

    I agree with Cristen – whip them out.

  17. avatar Pam says:

    Johanna – i LOVE the tips you’ve given here and more importantly the words of support. Its so refreshing to hear about the “real” scenes of a breastfeeding mom and despite setbacks and a few embarrassing moments you can succeed in the world of breastfeeding. Thank you, thank you!

  18. avatar Cristen says:

    The Boobs rule. People can smoke in public, lounge in a bikini in public, so why do people get so crazy about breast feeding in public? Giving your baby breast milk is the most natural and pure act a woman can do, I say whip them out and feed your baby with pride. I have tiny boobs so it was easy to do it discreetly, I know that it can be tricky for those with larger breasts. I love your tips and hope people find the courage to follow in your footsteps.

  19. avatar Martha says:

    Thanks for sharing such great tips! Once you master nursing in public, you gain so much freedom to resume your schedule and normal activities!

  20. avatar Angie says:

    I live in NYC and I don’t think nursing in public is a big deal, however once you leave certain cosmopolitan cities in the USA some people are indeed very small minded. In Europe this isn’t even an issue.

  21. avatar Betsy W says:

    Excellent choices Johanna! Your encouraging words will no doubt help many a new mom to conquer her fears as we did (with a little help from our friends). Glad to see that those glamourmom tops are still in circulation, they were like magic — the baby feeds but you are still fully clothed, how does she do it?

    Thanks for yet another useful and interesting post, I look forward to more!

  22. avatar Kara K says:

    I nursed in public for the first time about a month ago, using my hooter hider and my mom about had a cow. Go figure. It’s about time for culture to evolve!