breastfeeding in public: my take

nursing-baby-7-months-oldWhen I had my first baby in 2006, I "went into hiding" every time my baby had to nurse. If we were out to dinner, I would go out to the car and put the sunshade up. If we were at a friend's house, I would resign to one of the back bedrooms. If we were shopping, I would politely ask to use a dressing room (never the bathroom, mind you...ewww).

The problem with this plan was that I always missed so much - conversations, laughter, living. Babies aren't exactly known for quick eating so sometimes I'd be out of commission for 20 minutes or more at a time.

When baby #2 arrived seven months ago, I wised up and discovered nursing covers. With my Bebe au Lait nursing cover in my bag, I can nurse anywhere, anytime. I've nursed in airports, in parks, at restaurants, in museums, at friend's houses, and at Disneyland - with confidence.

That said - when you see me nurse, you don't SEE anything (if you know what I mean). I'm quite modest and discreet about the whole thing. Not because I am ashamed, but because I want to be respectful - of others and of my body.

all-done-nursing-so-happyWhen it comes to the (sometimes heated) topic of breastfeeding in public, I would have this to say: breastfeeding is a beautiful thing, a sacred thing. It should be encouraged, advocated, and championed across our country and throughout the world. The benefits for babies and for mothers - both physical and emotional - are too well-documented to ignore. Our culture should be doing more to promote exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months and continued breastfeeding through one year and beyond.

Breastfeeding shouldn't have to happen outside of the public eye (on the contrary, actually...the more people that breastfeed openly, the more the next generation will learn about it and consider it.). That said, I don't believe breastfeeding in public should be synonymous with "openly expose your breasts to every passer-by, without any consideration for modesty."  Women should try to keep covered - and that doesn't have to be a difficult task. You can nurse in a baby carrier, with a blanket thrown over your shoulders, in a specially-designed nursing shirt/dress, or with a nursing cover. Some super experienced mamas can even manage to nurse discreetly without any additional coverage.

YOUR TURN: What is your "take" on public breastfeeding?

To get the conversation going (and because I love my readers so much), I'm giving away a Hooter Hiders nursing cover.

hooter hiders green hooter hiders chocolat flowers nursing cover hooter hiders purple nursing cover

In case you've ever wondered, Hooter Hiders covers and Bebe au Lait covers are actually made by the same company; they just have two different names - "Hooter Hiders for the tongue-in-cheek and Bebe au Lait for mommy chic."

Both brand names feature:

  • lightweight, high-quality material
  • adjustable, rigid neckline so you can see your baby
  • gorgeous fabrics for stylish mommies

There are, however, a few differences between the brands.

Bebe au Lait covers retain the original design. They have a rigid neckline and an inside pocket/burp cloth.

The new Hooter Hiders, on the other hand, have two designs: Pocket and Ruffle. The Pocket design has an external pocket, but no internal pocket like the original nursing cover design. The ruffle design has ruffle details along the neckline and bottom of the cover (no internal pocket).

The "Hooter Hiders Classic" nursing covers are exactly the same as the Bebe au Lait covers, although the selection of prints is a little different (some styles are available under both brands, some not).

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Every time I leave the house, I always double-check to make sure I have my nursing cover. It's a product I use every time I'm in public so the $35 is definitely an investment worth making if you are a nursing mom.

I'll end this post with a quote from the Bebe au Lait website: "Breastfeeding is something to be proud of. Bebe au Lait allows modern moms to do so wherever and whenever, in style." I completely agree.

hooter hiders logoWIN IT! One winner will receive a Hooter Hiders nursing cover {of her choice}. To enter, leave a comment stating which design you would choose on this post prior to Tuesday, October 27th at 11:59 p.m. (Don’t forget to follow the rules…all generic comments like “Enter me!,” “Love it,” and “Cool stuff!” will be disqualified.).

P.S. If you're interested in "staying in the know" about the latest Bebe au Lait sales, contests, and fun...you can follow Bebe au Lait on Twitter, fan Bebe au Lait on Facebook, or sign up for the Bebe au Lait newsletter.

*UPDATE* The winner is #53 zmama. Congratulations!

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62 comments on “breastfeeding in public: my take”

  1. I totally agree with you about breastfeeding in public! It's so inconvenient to have to hide in a bathroom/bedroom/etc. While I'm not a fan of women who breastfeed and don't cover up (due to my own modesty), I think it's completely acceptable and much easier when you have a cover that stays in place. I like the Mariposa cover!

  2. Ooh, I would chose the Siena cover. So pretty!

    I would have to agree with your stance on BIP. I started out as you did, banishing myself to the car or restroom if I had to breastfeed. But over time, I grew more confident breastfeeding in public. I always try to cover up but my son is now 15 months and hates his head covered. So, I do my best to cover as much boob as possible. I'm proud to have nursed as long as I have and we're still going!

  3. I'm no longer nursing my son but this would be fabulous for my friend who's expecting a baby! I'd love the Hooter Hiders Chocolat Nursing Cover!

  4. I would love a Hooter Hiders Nest Nursing Cover Ruffle Design. I nurse my baby in public with a blanket and it is not the best choice - my baby waives her arms, kicks it, and pulls it. I wish I had a nursing cover that stays in place :(

  5. I would like the Kyoto nursing cover.

    I am currently nursing my 2-month-old and I feel weird about nursing in public. I was hiding in the back of my minivan at first but I now feel comfortable in the front seat.

  6. I'm not sure how I'm going to feel nursing baby #2, but I too went into hiding when baby #1 needed to eat. I really wish I was more comfortable nursing in public.

  7. I agree that women should feel comfortable with nursing on public, but that we shouldn't put our breasts on display for the world to see. I love these nursing covers and would probably choose the Hooter Hiders NEST Nursing Cover because it's neutral, calming and pretty.

  8. bahahahahah lol. i love the play on words. i burst out laughing when i read that.
    i choose to use a cover out of respect for others. i am one of those people that could go without one and not show a thing but i know that the "idea" of possibly seeing something can make men very uncomfortable. i appreciate women that consider that my husband just might see something passing by wether he wanted to or not.

  9. I think with each baby I have had I have had a little more confidence to breastfeed in public. However I am a very modest person so I always cover up with a blanket. I wouldn't feel comfortable if I didn't have some sort of cover with me.

    I always wanted to get a nursing cover but never did. For our next baby I think this would be perfect. I love the chocolat one.

  10. I would choose the Hooter Hiders Aero Nursing Cover! My best friend plans to nurse and I loved every minute of nursing my daughter! I strongly suggested that she do it for sure!

  11. As long as I have a nursing cover I am fine to go...otherwise I get a little freaked out just whipping it out there, ya know? I breastfed my daughter for a year and plan on doing the same with #2!!!!!!!

    I love the Nest or the Chocolat Nursing Covers! They are GORGEOUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. I really like the Hooter Hiders Kyoto Nursing Cover. I curently am just using a blanket or a larger shirt when I nurse in public. I also "went into hiding" When I had my son in 2006, but was force to by family till I stood up and said it was gross to feed in the bathroom or too hard in the car, now they just have to deal with me nursing my daughter.

  13. I just love these! I'd choose the Hot Dots nursing cover. So fun!!
    I was definitely a hider with my first, but got more comfortable with each one. It would have been much easier had I had a nursing cover like this though!!

  14. It depends on where I am... I don't have a problem with nursing in public since I always use a blanket if I'm anywhere other than in the privacy of my own home; but if I'm in a place where it will make other people uncomfortable I usually just go find a room or bathroom somewhere. :)
    I love the Hooter Hiders Nest Nursing Cover!

  15. While I've never breastfed- we had our kids through adoption- I absolutely support a womans right to breast feed. Id love to win a kyoto for a friend

  16. I think that nursing coverups are a great idea, but there is just no way I could use one. My breasts are too big to maneuver under cover, and in order to get a successful latch, especially in the early days, I need to be able to see what I'm doing.

    That's not to say that I'm waving my breast around, but I don't think that a brief nipple exposure is the end of the world. I get upset when people tell me that I *have* to be covered, because it just doesn't work that way for everyone. It is possible to be discreet without being completely covered, and small exposures while obtaining a latch or at the end of nursing aren't the end of the world. Most people politely avert their eyes, anyways.

  17. My SIL's use these. I have nursed 4 babies, and never covered up. Not that I let it all hang out either! I remember one time with my now 3 year old, we were at a baby shower and she needed to nurse. I put a blanket over her head and she grabbed the blanket and gave me a look like - what the heck are you doing? I personally have no issue with breastfeeding in public. Hubby doesn't notice either but he would definitely prefer I used SOMETHING this time around! lol
    I like Hooter Hiders Chocolat Nursing Cover design best :)

  18. I don't mind seeing others breastfeed in public one bit. It does make my husband uncomfortable though. Even in our own home he request his sister cover up while feeding, and always wanted me to go in our room if company or the children were home (yes, the children). Strange, but okay... I agree breast feeding is best for babies, and it's the most natural. People should stop getting so riled up and just let our dear babies eat!

  19. Seriously...are we one in the same?! It's starting to freak me out.

    I just wrote to Bebe au Lait two days ago, pretty much saying the same thing: that with baby #1, I hid in rooms and made sure I was alone when I nursed so that I 1) didn't bother anyone, and 2) didn't flash anyone. Then, with baby #2, I borrowed a Bebe au Lait nursing cover from a friend, and my world was changed. I didn't miss out on conversations and being with others. I felt a ton more comfortable.

    Oh, girl...are you sure you aren't my twin? ;o)

  20. LOL, you sound just like me with my first. Now I'm onto my third and am a little more laid back. I made myself a nursing cover and I love it! It is so much easier than throwing a blanket on myself and trying to keep it in place while my baby is trying to rip it off of him. I still don't like to nurse in public if there is another option but I no longer feel like everyone is staring at me.

  21. I breastfed my 2 year old for one year, and we left the room frequently to nurse. We also took advantage of the nursing mother rooms at the malls in town. Those are great! More places need those. Now I am nursing my 3 month old son, and I don't always have the luxury of being able to leave the room. (I actually liked escaping to a quiet place despite the inconvenience.)

    I would choose the Hooter Hiders Siena ruffle design. It's so pretty, and I love the addition of ruffles!

  22. Hooter Hiders! I never knew about any of these things when I had my daughter 3 years ago! All I had was a blanket to cover my "hooters"!

    I'd want the gorgeous kyoto cover!

  23. How cool is this!! I have not seen these before, and i also remember not going out to much because i was breast feeding, but this would solve the problem. I like the Bebe au Lait Shrine Aqua Nursing Cover

  24. I am in a culture where breastfeeding in public is very welcomed and accepted. I've even seen women nursing on public transportation! That's a bit too extreme for my modest ways. I was given a nursing cover for a gift before the birth of my first child, and used it on a regular basis. I actually received criticism from some people asking if it was "okay" to use it (ie - could the child still breathe?). I assured locals that it was "okay" to use the cover and continued to do so when we were out and about. It made me feel so much more comfortable!

    If I won, I'd go for the Kyoto print. :-)

  25. It depends, must mostly I don't mind nursing in public. With my first baby I didn't even use a cover, just well-made nursing tops. So I'm sure people did occasionally get a peak at the underside of my breasts. Oh Well. I like the Vila nursing cover from the Hooter Hiders website.

  26. I'm not the least bit shy about nursing in public, but I'm very careful not to expose too much. I have a hooter hider (the Soft Spot design) and I love it! My DS is at the age where he takes frequent breaks to look around and visit and the cover keeps him focused and keeps me covered when he's on break. I'd love to win the Vila for my niece.

  27. Amen! I wish I had more bfeeding support with my first. I ended up switching to the bottle after 2 months. I had a great lactation consultant with my 3rd though and nursed much more successfully.

  28. Gosh, this was a lifesaver for me with Capri, and I am so looking forward to getting a new style with my new little boy :). I'm in love with all the new styles, and my favorite one that I would get would be the Hooter Hiders Siena Nursing cover. The colors are so beautiful. Thank you for the great giveaway!

  29. i like the kyoto pattern. I was never able to do it public b/c my kids LOVED nursing and could never get enough. I could never perfect my skill enough to be discreet, lol! We never really went anywhere, so it wasn't an issue. Now that my boys are older and involved in activites, I'll have to do more traveling around with baby #3.

  30. I love the Hooter Hiders Aero design. I'm about 7 weeks away from having my baby girl and would love to win this nursing cover.

  31. I love the Marseille design of nursing cover. I am about to have my third baby and I've always just used a blanket to cover up in public but my friend used one of these covers the other day and I want one. I cant believe that I nursed for over 2 years using just blankets.

  32. I think all moms should be able to nurse in public. That being said I do not want to see a woman truly whip out her boob with out being discrete - which I have seen some women do. You can easily nurse a baby without showing too much. If you have trouble latching the little one on you can always turn your back, do you thing and then when everyone is ready to go turn back around.

  33. I didn't breastfeed my son, we tried it didn't work and so we bottle fed. That being said as a mother my opinion has never changed of the public breastfeeding. I have no problem with it if it's covered. I do prefer not to see a women whip out her breast at a table in a restaurant and put on a show. Some discretion and modesty is necessary. That is why I think these are great. They allow you to be part of the conversation and the world without giving up decency! Perfect balance if you ask me!

  34. I nurse in public all the time and feel strongly that if my child is hungry, I should never deny her food regardless of where I am. I do try to be as modest as possible and use a nursing cover (Udder Covers) or a blanket when I have it available or it seems appropriate. However, sometimes, there isn't one available, Evangeline pulls it off anyways, or it's really inconvenient to use. I don't flaunt my breasts out, but I also believe that if we are ever going to normalize breastfeeding then we should never apologize for breastfeeding by running off to a private place or try to hide when it's just not working to be covered. I try to always think about what my baby needs in the moment, and while I try to be considerate of others, they are not my priority-my baby is.

  35. I too love the hooter hider. One of my friends actually made me one prior to having my first baby. I agree with you regarding the nursing in public. The only reason I go away from public/groups is because my kiddos always got so distracted with all of the sounds around them. My youngest is already weaning himself, and his birthday is just a few days away, so I am almost done nursing!

  36. For me, the biggest obstacle I encountered while nursing in public was my babies! They were both very distracted in public and after they were about 3 to 6 months old, they would rather have people-watched than nursed, unless of course ravenously hungry. And even then, as soon as they weren't starving, they'd stop nursing frequently to look around and make sure they weren't missing anything. So, when in public, I tried to find a quiet place where I could get the job done without distractions. A nursing cover might have helped me a lot!

  37. I have a bebe au laute and I love it!! It has been used and washed so much that it is getting very worn and faded :) I would not be comfortable nursing in public without it and would not like missing out on everything either. I really like the Papillion pattern.

  38. I would pick the Kyoto cover. I too have a 7 month old and when we are out doing errands, or at a family get together, I don't want to go into hiding to feed our son. Gratefully, he can now finish off both sides in 10 minutes tops, but I remember the days of a 30 minute nursing session.

  39. I'm extremely passionate about breastfeeding and love seeing mamas nurse in public! It's awesome. I've personally in public never seen a woman just all exposed...they are either using a cover, blanket, sling, or wearing clothes where you cannot see anything so I don't really understand the uproar that many people start about NIP...with people being asked to leave restaurants and public places...it's crazy! What about all the women that wear inappropriate clothing?...you can see more boob in a low cut shirt or revealing top/dress than you can most of the time than when women are breastfeeding!!! And at least they are doing something extremely useful and beneficial with what God gave us...um yeah, their intended purpose.

    When my babe was little I pretty much always nursed her in a Maya Wrap...those are perfect b/c they have the extra material that you just tuck in to cover with. I was able to walk around stores and hang out wherever doing so and it was awesome. We used a cover sometimes too...However, my little one got bigger :) and then we could no longer do so discreetly (although we still do so - the Maya is awesome) so I would go to the car or another room or something. She's almost 2 so she gets way too distracted with lots of people in the room plus she wants to switch sides all the time and NOT be covered up and I'm extremely exposed :)!!! :) But we do it depending upon who is there and where we are and just wear clothes that help cover as much as possible...But yeah, if we hadn't mastered using the Maya Wrap early on, then I would have been in other rooms for like an hour at a visit somewhere b/c she nursed for forever when she was itty :).

    Honestly though, I really go back and forth with covers, blankets, etc. and nursing privately in other rooms and whatnot...It's what makes ME comfortable and it keeps our time just "ours" and more special, but it also makes it seem like it's "dirty" or "wrong" so we have to cover it up...and I don't like that AT ALL. I think THAT's wrong. So I don't know...it's hard. I think we should be teaching our children that that's what boobs are for...for giving milk to our babies and babies have to eat whenever they are hungry just like anybody else! Education on it early is so important I think, but modesty is an important lesson too. However, if you ever happen to see a bit of a boob when a babe is eating, then OH WELL. For any kids that see it, it shouldn't be anything at all if they've been educated on it...it's a baby eating. WE are the ones that make it "dirty" or "improper". My babe "oooohs" and "aawwws" at it b/c it's a baby getting milk from their mama and I love that b/c it's a beautiful thing :). For any adults that are offended by MAYBE seeing a bit of a boob while someone is breastfeeding, get over it!...Leave, move on, don't look, etc. etc.!

    I just SO wish it was the norm to see it in our country - whether under a hider, blanket, or NOT. I just want to see more of it. It makes me SO happy whenever I see it! I sometimes want to say something encouraging but I haven't because I feel like I don't know how that particular woman would take it - would she not like the attention drawn to it or would it encourage her? I at least try to always make eye contact and smile really big. :)

    Great post Stephanie as always!!!!!!

  40. I've never had a problem with nursing in public - I'm a bit too much of an extrovert to hide in a back room somewhere for half an hour to feed the baby. That said - I always have a blanket or my Milk Chic nursing cover close by. I can nurse discretely without showing anything without a cover, but the cover is nice - especially for the latching on and un-latching processes.

    As for the women who are comfortable with in-discrete public nursing... I tend to disagree with their position - I feel like we should be able to nurse our babies wherever and whenever they want to eat but I also feel like we shouldn't make a display of what we're doing and exposing that skin - it's gonna draw attention and not necessarily the kind of attention you want or need. So my opinion is be modest about it and nurse your baby wherever you are when the baby gets hungry. A nursing cover or blanket helps to ensure that you don't show more skin than you mean to show.

  41. I never had a problem nursing in public (my husband he was a little uncomfortable) I just used a blanket with my first. Now my second I had to go into 'hiding' when nursing. Why? Because she would not nurse while covered up. She would refuse to nurse if anything was touching her at all. she also was so interested in the world around her she was forever popping off and exposing me to the world.

  42. I love, love, love my Hooter Hider! But, I would also love a second one to keep at home for when visitors stop by.

    Anyway, I am a huge supporter of breastfeeding in public and I'm not afraid to voice it. However, like you, I do think, that if possible, we should cover ourselves, in order to be respectful of others. Now, in saying that, my older daughter would never, ever allow me to cover her up so I had to be as discreet as possible, or leave the room and miss the whole conversation, etc. I'm so thankful that my younger daughter allows me to nurse her under our Hooter Hider.

    If I won this, I would love the Bebe au Lait Papillon Nursing Cover.

  43. I like the Hooter Hiders Kyoto Nursing Cover design.

    I am a strong believer in breastfeeding and have nursed in a lot of restaurants, in a national park and anywhere else my daughter needs to eat. (We don't leave the house too often truly).

    I do use my cover and find it so helpful. I have even had a couple of women ask me about my cover because they had never seen anything like it and could really use it.

  44. I was never one to be shy about nursing. I nursed my son until he was 2, so there was plenty of nursing in public with him! I got dirty looks occasionally and I'm sure a few people got a glance at my goods (I didn't have a nursing cover, just a regular blanket over my shoulder) but I strongly felt like it was my child's right to eat if they were hungry. Think about it - how many girls with huge fake boobs hanging out get dirty looks? It seems like if boobs are being shown off in a sexual way people are okay with it, but if they are being used for nutrition it's "nasty". Even my son's dad always told me to go into the bathroom - how nasty is that!! No one would expect a bottle feeding mom to feed her child sitting on a toilet. I am planning in investing on a nursing wrap (like on this post) for my 2nd child.

    autumn398 @ yahoo.com

  45. I am currently nursing my 3rd child, and I have to say that nursing in general--but especially in public--is so much easier now with a bit of experience. I didn't use a cover with my other babes (5 years ago), and the cover makes it so much easier--covering with a blanket just didn't work for me. I still don't really love to nurse in public because I feel like my babe gets a much better feeding when we are comfortable at home and he can latch on correctly. At the same time, if I have to do it, I want to be discreet and the nursing cover helps me do this.

  46. I used a baby blanket for years before I made myself a nursing cover. But I never left the room to nurse. In fact, I had family members tell me not to bother with the blanket, they didn't mind. (but I did, so I used it anyway) I was lucky and around understanding people almost all of the time.

  47. I used a home made version of a Hooter Hider. I nursed my daughter until she was 15 months. That being said we nursed in public, often. In the car, in dressing rooms, during church services and at friends houses. I try to encourage other young mothers to consider and try breastfeeding.
    I really like the kyoto design.

  48. I have to say I LOVE my hooter hider!! I never felt like I needed to go anywhere else to nurse my baby. I could really go into a whole heated discussion about breastfeeding, but I won't! I think nursing your baby is the most natural and wonderful thing both for the baby and the mom. And I think it is crazy when people get in an uproar about nursing in public.

  49. Heh. I'm able to feed Elizabeth pretty discretely in public even without a nursing cover(heck, I even participated in our local Breastfeeding Challenge...)

    I'm not into exposing myself though. There were a number of people at the challenge who were letting it all hang out - and I thought that was weird and unhelpful. I personally prefer going somewhere discreet, but mostly that's because Elizabeth is much more efficient if she doesn't have any distractions. Also, depending on the situation, sometimes a nursing room is a must. Like when I was a bridesmaid for my brother's wedding recently. My red dress was beautiful, but required getting mostly undressed in order to nurse....

  50. I love that cover! I believe in nursing in public, but I also feel more comfortable with the cover. Once baby starts to get tired of the cover though, I just do what we have to do :)

  51. My religious background (as well as current beliefs) lends to doing my best to stay absolutely modest. Yet, I dislike nursing covers. They seem to scream to the world "HEY!! I'm nursing over here!!" And while you're not hiding in a back room or out of the public eye, it still seems a little too much like hiding to me. No disrespect to you or anyone who chooses that route, but I don't like it for me. I'm glad to be able to nurse, to be able to use my body the way God intended it to be used... and I do it modestly, but without any extra props. I've always been drawn to simplicity, and I don't like the idea of having one more thing to pack in the bag, one more thing to juggle when it's time to nurse, and one more thing to worry about.

    It does get tricky sometimes, especially with extra-distractable babies, but I can manage (layers are my friend!)- and I *need* to manage, with 3 children. I don't have time to stop what I'm doing every time a baby gets hungry. I don't personally agree with casually pulling an entire breast out to nurse, but I won't get offended by it, either. I'll just do what I'm comfortable with, and what I feel is in line with respect for the body God gave me, and keep nursing discreetly, no props needed.

  52. I completely agree! I have a Bebe au Lait nursing cover and love it. I bought it on eBay with baby #1 but strangely didn't really start using it until baby #2. I'm not really sure why. I think baby #2 gains you a lot of confidence with your breastfeeding choice.

    Even though I already have a cover I would love to win one for my sister!

  53. i had no problem discreetly nursing in public -- especially by the time i had my third! he was fed quite a bit in the car, poor thing!
    the WORST was the airplane... because it is such tight quarters that its a little awkward when there is a strange man sitting THAT close to you and your baby is kicking him while they eat ;-)

  54. I was never comfortable doing so around anyone but my husband. I'm not uncomfortable seeing others feed their babies, but I just never was. Strange, I know.

    Nell

  55. I'd pick the Hooter Hiders Marseille Nursing Cover. I love the invention of the ridged neckline, it really makes nursing discreetly in public not only possible, but easy.

  56. Oooh, Hooter Hiders and Bebe Au Lait are the best! I think I'd want the Hooter Hiders Kyoto Nursing Cover.

    I completely agree with your take on breastfeeding in public. I compare it to adults eating in public: we're all free to eat in public, but we try keep to our culture's courtesy rules, like not eating with our mouths open. In the same way, babies should be able to eat in public, but I feel that their moms should not "keep their mouths open" (aka let the ladies hang out all over the place). It's not inherently wrong, but in our culture it's polite to keep covered up. There are so many great covers out there that it's cute, comfortable, and easy to let your baby eat in public discreetly.

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