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How I Learned to Nurse in Public

Welcome to the July 2010 Carnival of Nursing in Public

This post was written for inclusion in the Carnival of Nursing in Public hosted by Dionna and Paige at NursingFreedom.org. All week, July 5-9, we will be featuring articles and posts about nursing in public (“NIP”). See the bottom of this post for more information.



I got started nursing in public right away after my first baby was born.  Well, mostly right away.  My first daughter was born four weeks before we moved from Ireland to Canada, and I had to organize passport photos, visit friends for the last time and do far more running around immediately after her birth than I would have done if we hadn’t been moving away.

So, nine days after my daughter’s birth I found myself downtown with engorged breasts, a hungry baby and no idea where I could possibly nurse. I dashed from shop to shop, looking for a nursing room or washroom with couches. After getting increasingly more desperate and frantic, I ended up running home with milk leaking down my shirt and my newborn baby wailing in the stroller.  Once home I realized that breastfeeding just wasn’t going to work unless I learned how to nurse in public.

It took a while to figure out what I needed to nurse confidently in public.  I gained confidence as I learned how to latch my baby efficiently and I also received some practical advice from other mamas.  After several incidents in which milk poured down the front of my shirt during a feed, another new mom told me about Avent Breast Shells, which helped me save milk without pumping by catching the overflow that poured from the non-nursing side in the early days.  They also saved my shirts from the seemingly inevitable milk stains.

Once I wasn’t so worried about soaking through my clothes I felt much more comfortable nursing in public.  Another mom showed me how wearing a cardigan and a loose t-shirt helped avoid flashing that post-partum midsection in public.  Every little tip helped me feel like I knew how to nurse my baby without embarrassment, and every successful outing raised my confidence.

The final assignment in my NIP101 crash course was our overseas flights.  Four weeks postpartum, I packed up my carry-on and got into the car.  We were in transit for about 24 hours, and I nursed in the backseat while stopped at the side of the road, in airport lounges, airplane cabins, while waiting at immigration and after our final landing in Vancouver.  I wore my cardigan, I brought the breast shells, I had lots of Lansinoh breast pads and a couple of extra shirts.  I had a receiving blanket too, but I only used it to catch milk that dripped when my baby popped off.  I felt claustrophobic and far too hot with it draped over myself, and more importantly, I couldn’t see what I was doing.

And you know what?  Nobody said a single thing to me about nursing in public.

Art by Erika Hastings at http://mudspice.wordpress.com/

Welcome to the Carnival of Nursing in Public

Please join us all week, July 5-9, as we celebrate and support breastfeeding mothers. And visit NursingFreedom.org any time to connect with other breastfeeding supporters, learn more about your legal right to nurse in public, and read (and contribute!) articles about breastfeeding and N.I.P.

Do you support breastfeeding in public? Grab this badge for your blog or website to show your support and encourage others to educate themselves about the benefits of breastfeeding and the rights of breastfeeding mothers and children.

This post is just one of many being featured as part of the Carnival of Nursing in Public. Please visit our other writers each day of the Carnival. Click on the links below to see each day’s posts – new articles will be posted on the following days:
July 5 – Making Breastfeeding the Norm: Creating a Culture of Breastfeeding in a Hyper-Sexualized World
July 6 – Supporting Breastfeeding Mothers: the New, the Experienced, and the Mothers of More Than One Nursing Child
July 7 – Creating a Supportive Network: Your Stories and Celebrations of N.I.P.
July 8 – Breastfeeding: International and Religious Perspectives
July 9 – Your Legal Right to Nurse in Public, and How to Respond to Anyone Who Questions It

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Dionna @ Code Name: Mama July 6, 2010, 10:30 am

    I wore flannel nursing pads for months after Kieran was born. I wasn’t a heavy leaker, but I did need something to catch the runoff. I agree that nursing pads are great to have!
    .-= Dionna @ Code Name: Mama´s last blog ..Toddler Nursing Under Cover =-.

  • Kirsten July 6, 2010, 8:05 pm

    Nursing in public was hard for me to get the hang of. I think M was 3 or 4 months before I feel like I could confidently feed her anywhere. For a while I was actually bringing a nursing pillow around with me, stuffed into the stroller (which actually necessitated me bringing the stroller when I really wanted to wear her.) I thought I was just inept, but what I didn’t realize then that nursing with very large breasts has a special set of challenges, always requiring both hands, and special holds. I was really glad to have met a mama at baby group with very large breasts who had a baby a few months older, so she gave me some really good tips. But the best thing of all was learning how to nurse in the Ergo. So much freedom after that.

    • michelle July 6, 2010, 10:15 pm

      That’s true, everyone has their own particular set of challenges. I had a strong let-down and lots of milk, so leaking through *everything* was my biggest obstacle to nursing in public. But that might not be the case for everyone. And babywearing + nursing is indeed fantastic. Can you believe I never nursed Bea in the carrier? I always stopped and unwrapped her. Somehow I had a mental block with babywearing + nursing, but now I nurse Claire in the Ergo all the time. There is always something new to learn!

  • Casey July 7, 2010, 8:11 pm

    That’s good to know. I have quite a few people asking me nursing questions, and because I’m not much of a leaker, I don’t usually have a great answer for controlling it in some of the cases where a mom is a heavy leaker.