Some breastfeeding moms choose to never nurse in public. Then there are the brazen breastfeeders, who nurse wherever, whenever, and could give a you-know-what if someone sees their nipples. Perhaps you were a little shy at the beginning — hiding in corners with your nursing cover, or using your partner as a human shield — but now? Now you're nursing like a badass boss. There are some telltale signs you've officially stopped caring about breastfeeding in public, and if you recognize more than a few of them, well, you're probably reading this with your top off.
I started off nursing in public feeling a little shy. I tried the nursing cover, but my infant son was not having it. He insisted I nurse with my boob out for all to see, my newly dark and swollen nipples exposed every time a sound captured his attention and made him swiftly turn his head away from his task. To fight my embarrassment, I'd try to picture everyone around me topless. For the men, I'd try to picture them in sexy bras. Most of the time it worked to ease my anxiety. After some time, though, I got more and more comfortable. Some would say too comfortable, I'm sure (hint: by the time I was a pro at breastfeeding, I was practically fine sitting naked in restaurants).
Breastfeeding in public is not for everyone, and it doesn't necessarily mean that you just love having your body out there for everyone to look at. But for many women, it is the choice that feels most comfortable when they are out with their babies, and what works with the rhythm of their bodies. For me, I couldn't be around my babies without them wanting to nurse, so having a bottle of breast milk for public outings wasn't a viable option for us. Looking back, I liked nursing in public. It felt easy, it felt right, and after a bit of time it felt very natural for me. Here are some ways you can tell that you're completely unfazed by breastfeeding with an audience:
It Takes A Cold Wind To Remind You That You Left Your Shirt Unbuttoned
If you're a breastfeeding pro whose been doing this in public for a while, your boobs have probably been exposed more than they've been concealed. Which is why you might walk down the street on a winter day with your blouse unbuttoned nearly all the way to your belly button without actually realizing it. In fact, it'll probably take a gust of cold wind to remind you that, um, wearing clothes in public is usually a thing.
I can't count how many times I left my button down shirt unbuttoned after breastfeeding in public. Both of my babies were little succubi, so if I was out in public with them somewhere, I pretty much had my blouse open to them as long as we were stationary. I was so used to being in a perpetual "blouse open" state, that I often forgot to close up shop.
You Will Walk Down The Street While Nursing Your Kid
I know I mentioned nursing my kids when we were in a stationary state (whether that be in a gym class, or at a restaurant, or in the park) but that wasn't the exclusive mode in which my kids liked to nurse. No, my children each enjoyed an "on-the-go" snack, too. In other words, they nursed while I walked. My oldest son, especially, required the Nurse n' Walk move when he was an infant, with me cradling him in one arm as he nursed and my other arm pushing the stroller. Did I mention that this was in early fall, when it was still kind of warm and I wasn't wearing a jacket? And how there was no way a nursing cover was going to work in this particular nursing situation?
So, yeah. People stared strangely at the lady pushing the empty stroller with her boob out (moi), but I figured they would prefer that to the other option: the lady with the baby screaming bloody murder in the stroller.
You'll Whip Them Out No Matter How Fancy A Place You're In
A mama who is completely unfazed by nursing in public does not need permission to breastfeed in the open, no matter how posh a setting she is in. Most public spaces are not built like a Buy Buy Baby with designated Nursing Stations, so when your baby is hungry you gotta do what you gotta do. And if your baby is hungry while you're enjoying tea at The Plaza, then you are going to have to nurse that baby right there. Sure, my mom was none too pleased when this happened to us, and I got some strange looks from the other tables that clearly communicated, "Couldn't you do that somewhere else?"
You'll Grab Whatever Paper Napkins Are Nearby In Lieu Of Actual Breast Pads To Stop The Leaking
When you're all tentative and new to breastfeeding in public, you are probably leaving the house prepared with nursing pads. These are good to have on hand in case of spontaneous leakage while your baby breastfeeds on that first boob of the feeding. By the time you're an OG public breastfeeder, though, you don't need fancy nursing pads. You'll grab the Starbucks napkins you stuffed in your pocket from who-knows-when or the cloth napkin from wherever you're eating. It's just spilled milk, right?
You Lost Your Nursing Cover Months Ago
Seriously, you have no idea where that thing went. It was cute, and you totally registered for it, but after the first few times of your baby fighting their way out from under it when they were nursing, you gave up. Besides, no matter how many times you washed it, it had that funky soiled milk smell to it.
You No Longer Wear Nursing Blouses
Nursing blouses are nice as a concept. But you know what they also are? Hard to find, difficult to incorporate into your wardrobe, and kind of expensive.
Instead, you wear anything that fits your nursing boobs, but that you can stretch down easily, button down, or lift up without too much fuss. If you're a little more demure, there's always a good old-fashioned cardigan to use for cover. No need to buy a whole new wardrobe exclusive for nursing. That's for beginners.
You're Totally Fine With Nursing In A Dress You Have To Pull Up To Your Chest
For the really bold public nurses (ahem, me) you are so over the concept of modesty that pulling your dress nearly up to your chin to give your child access to your breasts is, like, no big deal at all. I became so used to nursing in public without any kind of cover or privacy, that I stopped even thinking about wearing clothes that were nursing-accessible or that had any optional layer of covering. I'd go out in form-fitting dresses that all but required a complete undressing for my child to nurse.
Yes, I may have gone off the deep end. In hindsight, no one needed to see that much of me. I think a mom has every right to get her baby the nourishment they need without any shame, but I could have taken a little more care to choose appropriate clothing. But I have to say that as a social experiment, the more nude I got out of necessity, the easier it felt to be nude, to the point that "public" wasn't a big scary thing anymore. Nursing no longer felt any more intimate than changing my infant's onesie in public.
Watch Romper's new video series, Romper's Doula Diaries:
Check out the entire Romper's Doula Diaries series and other videos on Facebook and the Bustle app across Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV.