My First Time...Nursing In Public
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Sweet Peas, Pods & Papas: All About Birth, B@@bs & Babies

My First Time...Nursing In Public

 "This post was written as part of The Breastfeeding Cafe's Blog Carnival. For more info on the Breastfeeding Cafe, go to www.breastfeedingcafe.wordpress.com. For more info on the Carnival or if you want to participate, contact Timbra Wiist landslidephotography {at} hotmail {dot} com. Today's post is about nursing in public. Please read the other blogs in today's carnival listed in the comments section at www.breastfeedingcafe.wordpress.com The Carnival runs July 16th through the 31st!" 

If you are following our "Starting Solids" journal, check the blog tomorrow for another installment.  My apologies for any inconvenience!       

I remember feeling terrified as I faced my first experience nursing in public (NIP).  I avoided it as long as possible.  


  • I was still experiencing pain when I nursed on my left side.  At the time, I did not know that this kind of pain is not normal.  I am naturally stubborn and independent and I figured this was a test of my mothering abilities.  I was just going to “tough it out”.    
  • On top of the pain I believed to be inevitable, these thoughts were running through my mind:  What if I exposed myself?  How was I going to cover up?  Would I really be able to nurse in public?    


When our daughter was a newborn, I would nurse her before we left the house.  Since she was a clockwork sleeper (two hours at a stretch), none of our trips were longer than an hour and a half.  This strategy will only work long-term if you are good at taking short trips, and if your baby’s sleep schedule stays exactly the same (rare!).   

I think our daughter was around four weeks old the first time we went out for an extended trip.  We went to a museum forty-five minutes away from home and walked around a bit.  She started to get fussy.  I started to panic.  We tried the pacifier – and it worked for about ten minutes.  Then she started to fuss again.  I was alone with a friend of mine, Nancy, since our husbands had gone to the food court to buy us lunch.    

Nancy kept calm and pointed out another mother who was nursing her baby on the lawn.  She observed that the mother had a receiving blanket wrapped around her bra strap and was feeding her baby under the cover.  (Obviously the dark ages before nursing covers gained popularity).    

My friend helped baby and I get organized – after a couple of false starts, baby latched and we had successfully navigated our first nursing session outside of the comfort and security of our home.  I can still remember sweating profusely and the rapid beats of my heart.  I remember feeling betrayed by my husband since he left me when I thought he should have been by my side, navigating this new experience.   

With the benefit of time, I am forever grateful to Nancy for making my first experience NIP a lot better than I had imagined it was going to be.  I have also learned that my husband thinks that I am extremely capable: while I am wondering where he is when I need him, he is happily going along with what he is doing because he thinks I am Super Woman.  He had no clue that I had just gone over one of my mothering hurdles - in his version of that morning, he was the hero that brought me lunch.  I forgave him and we enjoyed the rest of the day.  

Since my perception of our first experience NIP ended up being a positive one, I became bolder about leaving the house.  I did not try to time everything perfectly anymore.  We did find that nursing right before we left the house was the best insurance plan against having a screaming baby when we arrived at our destination.   

I learned to nurse while I was wearing our daughter in a sling.  I would nurse her in church.  I would nurse her when we went out to eat.  I learned to nurse her on a plane.  My fears were slowly replaced with a feeling of freedom and confidence that we could go anywhere and do anything – breastfeeding was not going to hold us back from a social event.  Eventually, the pain went away and I joyfully nursed our daughter until she was 22-months old.   

As a member of the NIP “club”, I started to notice other mothers who nursed in public.  Most of them covered up, occasionally I would see one nursing by simply lifting up her shirt and discreetly nursing her child.  I never forgot the calm mother at the museum.  I tried to pay my gratitude forward by making it a point to smile at these women in shared camaraderie.  Just in case any of them was a first-timer, I hoped that one smile would encourage them to keep meeting their baby’s needs, wherever they happened to be at the time.

P.S.  I did eventually inadvertently "flash" someone.  Oops.  I got over it and it has never happened again.  Good thing I did not quit over it since we are now on our fourth nursling.    

What was your first nursing in public experience like?  

Disclaimer:  
Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, Payson   The material included on this site is for informational purposes only.
It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult her or his healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation.  Krystyna and Bruss Bowman and Bowman House, LLC accept no liability for the content of this site, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided.  This blog contains information about our classes available in Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is not the official website of The Bradley Method®. The views contained on this blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Bradley Method® or the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth®. 

1 Comment to My First Time...Nursing In Public:

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Larina on Tuesday, July 17, 2012 1:58 PM
I nursed Benjamin at Joe's BBQ last Thursday. So he was 7 weeks old. We were trying to avoid NIP so I nursed him before we left. However knowing Joe's BBQ the line was out the door and it was Matt's birthday so we couldn't leave (he wanted his free meal lol). So we found a quiet table in the back and I whipped out my nursing cover and everything went well. Now I don't feel like it's such a big deal. My friend and I went to Whole Foods for dinner last weekend and we both nursed our babies right in the middle of the bar/eating area! I guess you find strength in numbers!
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