Breastfeeding in Public

breastfeeding in public green babiesIn my hometown public breastfeeding is no biggie–but I’ve heard that in other parts of the country it’s taboo for a mom to feed her baby unless she has ducked into a nursing lounge or locked herself in a bedroom.  What a drag!  As an extrovert, I would resent being sent away every few hours feed my baby.

My husband’s parents, who are originally from Thailand but have resided in Maryland for decades, were shocked when I told them I’d be feeding my baby while we ordered dinner at a restaurant.  In fact, my mother-in-law brought a bottle of my pumped milk just because she was sure I’d be using a bottle.  When I whipped out my “Hooter Hider” and put my baby to breast, everyone seemed a bit stunned.  (For those who don’t know, a “Hooter Hider” is a great draped piece of cloth that is easy to use for public nursing.  They’re expensive but I received one a as a gift. Check out their site here.)

I’ve heard other stories of people being appalled by moms who are discretely feeding their babes under a blanket, commenting “Everyone know what she’s doing in there!” It just seems illogical that feeding a baby would be considered somehow scandalous.

Have you had any trouble breastfeeding in public?  Do you have family or friends who find it offensive?  Please share your survival stories with other new moms!


  1. Nursing your baby in public is frowned upon here. I did it with my daughter though. Out of respect for others, I covered myself up, but I saw no reason to hide. Bottle-feeding moms didn’t have to go into the bathroom to feed their babies, so why should I? And I don’t invite peoples’ opinions. 🙂 I just do what I need to do without saying a word!

  2. I always felt like my baby’s right to eat outweighed any problems someone might have with it. The best was my husband’s friend suggested that I should go into the bathroom to nurse and my hubby told him “well, I’ll tell you like d says-grab your plate and bring it into the bathroom to eat! Good enough for the baby, good enough for you” Shut him up pretty quick. That being said, I nursed my kids whenever and whereever it needed to be done and never had a problem and still don’t while I’m nursing my 13 month old. There are some cultures that frown upon nursing because they see it as a burden to the mother and it makes it appear that the family is of a lower socio-economic status because wealthy families can afford formula. Crazy!

  3. I’ve never had anyone say anything to me about nursing in public. I’ve always covered myself with a blanket, nursing cover or nursing poncho. I’ve had people looking, but to be honest, when my son was smaller and I used the nursing poncho people could hardly tell there was a baby under there! And it covered my back so I didn’t have to wear a nursing top and could just pull my shirt up without people seeing my back! This is the poncho: I’ve nursed at a restaurant while eating as well! We’re all having dinner, why shouldn’t my son! I like D’s comment about bringing your plate in the bathroom; I’ll have to remember that if anyone does say anything to me!

  4. I live in Maryland! And I’m unapologetic about nursing in public. Some of it is that I have an older son – I’m not going to yank him off the playground just because his little sister is hungry.

    I do try to stay covered up, because I live (and work) in a small town. And I’m pretty thick skinned. AND we’re a pretty crunchy place, so it hasn’t been a big deal.

    But now that my daughter is ten months old, I’m wondering about extended nursing. Even though I never thought twice about nursing a baby, as she starts walking & talking, I’m not so sure.

  5. My 3 mo old hates when I cover her up when she eats so I only use my homemade hooter hider when I’m out and wearing a shirt that will totally over expose me. Otherwise I just make sure that we sit in a corner booth and I’m on the inside and I don’t cover up at all. The other afternoon we were out and about in the city and couldn’t find ANYPLACE to grab a seat and feed her (no coffee shops, restaurants open….nothing!). So, we had to go into dunkin donuts to eat. The place was ALL windows and about 100 degrees in front of them so I had to position my chair basically IN FRONT of the ordering register as it was the only place that wasn’t getting full direct sunlight! Ironically, the only person who seemed to have a problem was a woman who kept shooting me dirty looks as she ordered. With teenage girls running around in barely there tops that leave nothing to the imagination I’m not about to let my kid go hungry because someone’s a prude about me using my boobs for what they’re made for!

  6. I have always found that if I try to hide nursing it draws more attention/ comments then if I just not hide it and lift my shirt. Then most people think I’m trying to get my baby to sleep. They will even talk to me and have no clue what I’m doing.

    Now that my baby is 18 months (and looks like she is 2yrs +) I have a lot more family making comments to me about it being time to quit and to my daughter that “You can’t take mom to college you know”. Even though she doesn’t know what that means she cries every time someone says it. So sad…

  7. I have nursed my 6m everywhere, restaurants, during church, out with childless friends. I found a blanket to be a pain to keep up and that my shirt pulled down to his nose covers most of what we are doing. In the photo of my brother-in-laws rehearsal dinner you can not tell I am nursing. My policy is to nurse him where ever it would be correct to bottle feed him (I would move because of his eating noises, not the source). I have had only one comment, from my little cousin, who wanted me to raise my shirt so she could see how it all worked. For me there is a little bit of nursing evangelicalism in nursing in public, showing people how easy and normal it is. I see so many people who fail because they do not have enough information and role models. I plan on extended nursing so we will see where I am in 6 months and a year.

  8. I never had anyone say anything to me about nursing in public, either. I never used a hooter hider or anything similar (which does draw attention to nursing), and like Leigh, I’m pretty sure no one even noticed that I was nursing most of the time. If you wear a nursing tank underneath a shirt, the tank will keep your stomach covered and the shirt and baby will keep the rest of you covered. I was never exposing any flesh at all, which I assume is what some people are offended by. I even had people walk right up to me and start talking to me or ask me questions/directions, so either they weren’t offended or they didn’t notice the nursing baby!

  9. With my 1st I had more issues nursing in public bc I was new to it and I was the only one in my family to do it and I never really been around nursing moms. I just felt as if I stumbled all over the place and I was flashing everyone. I felt I had the wrong nursing tops that would show most of my breast and so on. I think being part of a nursing group and seeing them nurse discretely in an open environment helped me learn. The experience of nursing my son also help. Now with number two it is so easy for me. Number one I would pump and carry a bottle everywhere. I hate pumping so I don’t with number two and when he is hungry I just feed him wherever we are. My husband is more comfortable with it to bc most of the time he doesn’t even realize I am feeding him. I have a hooter hider which I use sometimes but the thing that worked best for me is my ergo carrier. I always feed him in that and wear it in restuarnts–oone knows I am nursing.

    I do not think it is up to other people to determine how comfortable you should or shouldn’t be. I always thought it was acceptable to nurse in public–I just had to get to the point that I could do it and feel like I was comfortable and not fumbling all over myself.

  10. With DS 1, I had so much difficult nursing and ended up pumping for over 4 months. I did nurse several times in public but it was only in efforts to get him to begin nursing (never worked). I remember having to go to the washroom or car to pump though – it was a horrible feeling. When I was at friends homes or family, I would usually just pump in the living room or wherever we were sitting.

    Luckily in our community nursing in public is fairly common. But there are still many people who gave weird looks when you nurse in restaurants or on benches.

    I think it is very upsetting that our society treats babies and breastfeeding mothers in this way. It used to be so common to breastfeed anywhere and everywhere. In many many cultures around the world, breastfeeding in public would never be an issue. For some reason, North American culture has decided that breastfeeding babies in public should only be done in privacy.

  11. yes, it’s all about the baby, not some prudes looking on, I feel.

    Baby needs to eat – baby eats. Mamas show decorum, and baby’s face covers the ‘hooter’ (LOL) quite well.

    I’ve never had any problems here in Australia – occasionally people do, but they are usually torn down fast!

    It’s natural after all.

    A friend of mine was publicly offended by some prude at a Macca’s where she was feeding her young baby in the cool air on a stinker of a summer day in country New South Wales.

    A woman actually was in the middle of a phone call, stopped to tell my friend to ‘Do that in the toilet”. Well my friend let her know that nope, that wouldn’t be happenning.

    A bizarre notion, to feed a baby in a TOILET.

    Happily tandem feeding two boys.

  12. One of the first times I nursed in public was at a Red Lobster. I used my wonderful nursing cover but was struggling a bit in the tight booth. The poor waiter seems uncomfortable and I noticed the manager glancing our way. When she came over to our table she told me how glad she was that I did not go into the restroom to nurse my baby! Lesson learned for me — when someone is looking at you it doesn’t always mean they are bothered by nursing in public.
    I proudly nurse my child in public with the use of the nursing wrap. I feel comfortable (I’m a pretty modest person) and so is the baby. Best of all, we don’t have to go into a nasty public restroom.

  13. i wrote a post this week about breastfeeding a toddler. i wish people were more able/willing to just mind their own business and acknowlegde that nursing is what boobs were made for!

    i have a hooter hider and love it. i’ve since found that you can purchase pretty homemade ones for half the price on etsy–a great shower gift.

    i nursed my first baby in public a bit, and i think with this second one, i’ll be even more comfortable. i figure, the baby needs to eat, i’m always modest, i don’t want to miss out on my life, and i think it’s good for people to see breastfeeding as a normal, natural thing that no one need feel ashamed or embarassed by.

  14. Say what you will about So.Cal. (and I do), I haven’t gotten any negativity here for nursing. On the contrary, I’ve had complete strangers ask me if I breastfeed my daughter, and give me hearty encouragement when I say I do. Even today at 20 months and going strong, everyone who speaks up is positive about it.

    A “hooter hider” isn’t really my style. What works for us are some nice big opaque scarves. I just wear a scarf out, and then if we nurse I can drape it over us as needed. They’re light and flexible, so my daughter doesn’t mind. And they’re in fashion now, so I find good ones at great prices.

  15. I live in Seattle so breastfeeding in public is pretty common here and no one ever gave me a hard time about it. In fact several coffee shops have “breastfeeding welcome” signs. I just used nursing tops as my son didn’t like being covered up either. Shortly after he turned 1, I stopped nursing him in public–both because I felt awkward when he got that big and because by that point, if he needed to eat, I could just give him some crackers or whatever snack I had in my purse.

    He is now 3 and still loving the mom-milk. I was elated at Heathrow Airport to discover a “babycare” room which had a changing table in one section and a chair and footstool in the other for comfortable, private nursing that wasn’t part of the public restroom.

  16. Here in Vancouver it’s really common to see mothers nursing their babies. In fact, it’s harder on mums with bottles. They get some nasty comments sometimes. It seems like people will be rude no matter what your choices!

  17. I don’t mind nursing in public at all. I do try to respect other people while I do it though. I use my nursing cover and it doesn’t seem to bother people.

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