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Nursing in Public, With and Without a Cover

While at a wedding in Spain in late Spring I was getting ready to nurse my baby. I pulled out my nursing cover, and a friend of the bride started laughing. “What is that, an apron?”

She had never seen a nursing cover and could not believe I was about to use it to feed my three-month old. “You don’t have to cover yourself,” my friend said. “Nobody does”

I did cover myself even though it was a hot day. I realized that I was more comfortable not showing my breast to the public or the awful way I was stretching the dress I was wearing. Although I did feel a sense of relief that if somehow I flashed some skin no one would mind.

As I fed my baby, I realized that regardless of others’ feelings about the subject, I nurse in public and in private; in front of family, friends and strangers, and while I often use a cover when nursing in public, sometimes I don’t. I feel very strongly about breastfeeding, so even if someone said something to me about covering up, which no one has, I think I would take it as their own ignorance and not as a sign of my behavior being devious or gross.

This is similar to the Bebe Au Lait nursing cover I have. I love it and I have used it a lot, but I am not always graceful about it.

This is similar to the Bebe Au Lait nursing cover I have. I love it and I have used it a lot, but I am not always graceful with it

This is why you may have gotten to see some skin while I nurse my baby:

  • Handling a toddler, an infant and a nursing cover is sometimes impossible
  • I am ok with being extra hot, but my baby is not
  • When my child is having problems latching, a cover gets in the way and makes it even more difficult. This leads to uncomfortable crying and frustration for baby, for me and for anyone around us
  • If I am among close female friends, I am comfortable nursing without a cover
  • Sometimes I forget my cover at home
  • Public restrooms are gross, I try to avoid using them in general, so I would never consider using one to nurse my child

Some women can nurse without a cover and not show an inch of breast, others – er, me – will flash you even when trying hard to cover themselves. Some women mind that their breast are showing, others don’t.

Although I don’t like showing my breasts to the public and I do try to cover up, I have a problem using the term “modestly” when it comes to nursing. I see nothing immodest about feeding a child. The thing about nursing in public, other than the political statements that we seem to have to make when we make decisions about how to feed our children, is that it is rarely about the mom and never about the public. It is always about the baby.

My baby is most comfortable nursing at home, laying on my bed. But that can’t always happen unless I decide to stay at home for the first 6 to 8 months of my child’s life. I am left with nursing in public, covered or not. I guess I could pump, but I really don’t see the need to feed my baby from a bottle when she is with me and I can give her the freshest milk possible.

I am not comfortable nursing in front of men I know, or strangers in general, and this is why I have nursed in my car, tucked into a restaurant booth and used my stroller as a shield of sorts one time I was in the park with absolutely nothing to cover myself with.

A few months ago I probably flashed a couple of people on a plane when I nursed my infant during landing while trying to keep my son from unbuckling himself and singing a song so he did not get scared with the heavy turbulence. I didn’t think twice about it, because at the time I was worried about my children’s comfort, not my own. Oh well.

How do you handle feeding your infant in public?


– Olivia


2 Responses to “Nursing in Public, With and Without a Cover”

  1. vrein11

    very well said. I also breastfed most of my babies. wherever and whenever they were hungry! Sometimes we did good at keeping things discreet, other times, well… when you leak and don’t have any nursing pads in, well… it doesn’t always happen when your at your own home… So many nursing mom stories!! it keeps us humble doesn’t it??

    • oliviascribe

      Parenting in humbling in so many levels! Thanks for reading.


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