I Breastfeed. But I Don’t Want You To See My Boobs.

I'm about as pro-breastfeeding as they come. 

I mean, I haven't staged a professional “nurse-in” lately but I have helped many women breastfeed in my work as a labor and delivery nurse, some more successfully than others, and I have stuck it out through breastfeeding each of my four children, as challenging as it has been at times. 

I'm 100% cool with women who choose otherwise, or women who are unable to breastfeed, because let's face it, that's life, but I'm also 100% realistic about recognizing how cool the benefits of breastfeeding can be. 

{ MORE: How to Gain Weight While Breastfeeding }

But as much as I'm waving the “Yay For Breastfeeding” flag over here, I admit that there is one place that I draw the line for myself:

Public breastfeeding. 

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Image via Flickr/ Jacob Bøtter

Do I have a problem with women who don't cover up in public while breastfeeding? 

Absolutely not. 

Do I think there's anything sexual at all about women breastfeeding?

Um, no. 

Do I think that every woman has a right to breastfeed how she feels most comfortable because for heaven's sake, it's a lot of work to feed that baby every few hours, amIrightladies?

Of course. 

But for me, that comfort level remains firmly in the “covered up” zone. 

{ MORE: This Is What Your Lactation Consultant Wants to Tell You }

Honestly, I'd prefer never to nurse in public at all if I could help it. Breastfeeding a baby is challenging for me — my daughter has some latch issues on one side and the other side is a bit overzealous in its production, which always makes for an interesting scene if she decides to come off the breast at all during the feed. And then there's the fact that it's still painful for me sometimes, and I'd just prefer to feed her in a relaxed, more intimate setting. 

Of course, it's not always possible for me to hide away in my home for a whole year and some public feeds are necessary, but when they do happen, I will be happily covered up. I feel more comfortable covered up and I don't think that mothers need to be on full display to be proud breastfeeding advocates. 

Because the most important thing is that we're committed and supportive of each other in this breastfeeding journey. 

So covered or uncovered, here's to us. 

And our babies. Of course we can't forget the babies. 

Do you prefer to be covered up when breastfeeding in public? 

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What do you think?

I Breastfeed. But I Don’t Want You To See My Boobs.

Chaunie Brusie is a writer, mom of four, and founder of The Stay Strong Mom, a community + gift box service for moms after loss. ... More

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48 comments

  1. angela says:

    I always used a nursing cover when I had to feed my baby in public. And she was very petite and never fussed about the cover. I think she got used to it because I nursed for 15 months!

  2. AmySpence says:

    I’m on baby number 3 and breastfed them all. My production went down greatly when I returned to work with each of them so they all received formula supplements as well. I tried to cover for most public feedings but now rarely cover. I do it in such a way that you can’t see my breast during the feeding and I am quick with the latch so there is limited exposure. I never did think it was “fair” that babies have/had to eat in the dark with a cover just so others are comfortable. As for the young kids who may be curious, I equate it to animals feeding their young. Most kids have at least seen pictures or shows with young animals nursing from their mommies and I tell them it’s like that. Human mommies make milk for their babies too. I also tell them that not all mommies feed their babies that way and some use a bottle (don’t want to put down the non breast feeders).
    All in all it has to be what you and your baby are comfortable with and able to do.

  3. I do not like to breastfed in public either, so when I do; I cover up. I understand that it is a woman’s right and the baby’s right to eat like anyone else. My concern is other children around. Can you really say that you are okay with a child (male child especially) staring at you because you are publically exposing yourself. I witness a woman in a shopping mall breastfed her baby. I had no problem with it, but she got upset when there was a little boy staring at her and saying things like ‘I can see her boobies’ and ‘that lady is naked’ and other childish things. She got upset and told the parent to control their child. The parent told her that her child never seen a woman expose herself like that before and maybe you should either leave or cover yourself. The woman with the baby got even more upset because the parent told her that she should leave or cover up. All the while the store guys had no idea what to do in the situation. I felt bad for the woman with the baby, but I also felt bad for the child that saw the woman expose herself. It is inappropriate to show yourself, but on the other hand, your baby needs to eat or else that baby will give you a piece of his/her mind! At that point no one will be happy until there is a breast in that baby’s mouth! So like others, I would pump if I can or feed my child before we leave the house. If I could not feed my baby because she kept moving the cover, I would go to the car and feed her in the bad seat with the tented windows. Even grown men will stare trying to get a sneak peak at a nursing mom (which I think is very sick and a cry of desperation). I breast fed both of my daughters and went through it all. My first I breastfed her for 5 1/2 months because I couldn’t produce anymore. My second I breastfed her for 11 1/2 months because we were both ready and I felt like I met my goal close enough to a year before I switched her to cow’s milk. So I know all the struggles that breastfeeding can bring, but I also know all of the benefits. I was once told by an adult male that what I was doing was disgusting because I was breastfeeding my baby in public. I asked him if he say anything, and he said all I can see is the feet. Then I told him that there is no problem if that is all you can see. I told him that I am sure that everyone would rather me feed my baby than to hear her yell ‘bloody murder’. He agreed and kept his mouth shut after that. Lol.

    • Erica says:

      Agree! For any women that breastfeed uncovered in public, expect kids to be curious. I get mad at my four year old if she stares Only after I first asked her for privacy, to look away. And she only stares when I’m putting the baby on. It’s different. When I’ve feed in public (covered), I’ve had some kids ask me what I’m going. I tell them that I’m feeding my baby with my chest. Sometimes I say boobies depending on my closeness to the parents or the age of the child. I think if more were educated on breast feeding all together, they would be less weirded out. It’s the reason women have breasts. Not for men’s pleasure, not for sexual pleasure, but to sustain life. That’s why a women’s body creates that substanance even when she chooses to formula feed.

      • I agree with you on that one. Sometimes ya wonder if they are made for guys pleasure. lol
        But in all seriousness it seems like your breasts are a very personal thing and wouldn’t want them to be exposed to just any passerby, But it really is the moms choice and everyone should respect that. We moms truly are amazing what we can do for our babies with our bodies.

  4. I don’t like breastfeeding in public either. It makes me feel like I have a neon sign over my head. I’m in the South, so I fear pulling my boobs out will cause offense. I’m rather large chested so there is no ‘discrete breastfeeding’. Nope. There’s skin, lots of it.. and covering up isn’t an option because little Miss needs to be put back on every 5 seconds because everything is SOOOO interesting. So I pump for public feedings or feed her in the car. I’ve often pumped in the car while DH is driving and he can feed her the bottle when we reach our destination.

  5. Erica says:

    I don’t mind breast feeding in public and I’m always covered, I just hate the covers and so does my daughter. I wasn’t able to feed more than 4 months with my first and she didn’t have as much a problem as my second now. It does become harder when having to cover and I wish every larger store had a nursing room like some malls do. I don’t feel bad not being covered there. It’s only for breast feeding women and those are whom I feel most comfortable around when I breast feed. They are the only ones with experience to talk about it. You can’t ask about breast feeding stories if the woman hasn’t even if it wasn’t really their choice to not. The experience of others has given me support at different times of being a mom which ( I’m so happy I have so long this time!) includes breast feeding.

  6. Silvia says:

    This article is a great summary of my own thoughts. I breastfed my now 6 yr old for 1 yr without exposing myself and I’m on 3 months with my new little one. I see these ladies post and write blogs about their right to nurse in public and I respect their enthusiasm but I wish there was a middle ground. I want to scream to the world how much I LOVE breastfeeding and how proud am I when I get over every bump in the road since I have had many especially this time around. But I want to scream with my voice and not my breast! I nurse in public every where I go bc that’s when my little one decides to eat but it is always covered. I have many different methods, blanket, Moby wrap, long sweater, double shirt method (but far away from people). I don’t feel comfortable showing my business to the world but I hope the baby bottom and feet dangling from my side is enough to show the world my enthusiasm in nursing. Thank you for this article, it was exactly the motivation I needed.

  7. Ashley says:

    Okay so my daughter is 11 weeks and she doesn’t like to have her head/face covered most of the time so I don’t really have a choice. It’s either deal with a very unhappy Naomi or not have my self covered. I mean I always wear a nursing tank top under my t-shirt, so I’ll slip an arm out and sometimes she’ll let me bring the shirt down to her cheek so no one can see anything. But at the same time I look at it as her head is covering more then most bikinis do so what’s it matter. Also if u don’t like it don’t look I’m feeding my child it’s natural and what breasts are made for!!

  8. Rachel says:

    Until public places make an area that’s not a disgusting bathroom, I’m going to feed my baby when he needs fed. I don’t think that you should expose yourself in the process of nursing, but unfortunately when your baby gets a little older and curious about the world around them they tend to rip off whattever cover you try to use.
    I will not leave my groceries and go to my hot car to nurse. Breastfeeding is a part of life, deal with it. Unfortunately more and more women chose not to breastfeed because of ignorant people’s comments. It’s the best thing for a woman and their baby. I understand that’s not possible for many women to experience the wonder of breastfeeding, do what you have to do to get your baby fed.
    I’m 30 weeks now with baby #3 and plan on breastfeeding like I did with the first two.
    I don’t think you should wave your tatas around for the world to see, but shot happens when your baby pops off your boob and you’re just trying to catch the milk that’s flying around.

    Whoever “member” is, you need to get over yourself. Have you ever breastfed a baby?

  9. gfeld says:

    I don’t nurse my baby in public ever. I am too modest for that. I will always find a restroom and feed my baby in a stall or in my car in the backseat, always covered. This baby is the longest so far that I have ever breastfed ( 9 months) and I don’t know when I will stop, but it will always be done in private.

  10. Mari says:

    I choose to cover up. I am not ashamed of my breast, I happen to like my breast. I would feel naked if I dint cover up. The only downside to covering is how uncomfortable it may be at times. I have been doing it for almost 4 weeks, let’s see how long I last.

  11. Olivia says:

    Thank you! I think breastfeeding is a private time for me and my baby. I just don’t feel comfortable doing it in public. If I have to, then I cover up. I don’t want anyone seeing my boobies except my baby and husband. And I’m sure the public doesn’t want to see them either! LOL But it feels like everytime I voice my opinion (for my own way of doing it) I am made to feel as if I am betraying my fellow mommies and making breastfeeding look like it’s something that is dirty and should be hidden. I definitely don’t feel that way! To each’s own…

  12. Daniella says:

    I have 4 children total our older 3 were formula fed our youngest is a 3 month old ebf preemie. Since this is a new experience for us all it’s been a struggle to get my husband to be ok with my bf’ing in public he gets really upset almost I’m assuming he’s worried a man would see. But he’s even a bit on the fence of other women, he was over protective in the nicu of the doctors,nurses,LC seeing them. I’m generally very modest but with a preemie I was like who cares I need my milk to benefit him I could care less who sees my boobs.lol I don’t feel comfortable with a cover and I have 3 different kinds so I use a large muslin swaddle blanket if there’s anybody else around. I’m only 3 months in but have become a huge advocate among my friends and family for bf’ing now- I’m the first to do it in my family 🙂 my 2 girls ages 2&5 now know babies get milk from their mommy & I’m happy they can hopefully bf as moms as well. & my older 9 year old son knows the milk is best he’s seen his little brother thrive on it.

  13. Jill says:

    I felt more comfortable covering up, too… I am extremely modest by nature. Remember that girl in 3rd grade who changed in the bathroom after swimming while every other girl at the birthday party changed in one bedroom together? Yeah, that was me. LOL My baby girl liked being covered and even pulled the burp rag over her face when we were BF at home sometimes, so she didn’t mind at all. So, I covered up while I was BF, but I’m okay with women who can’t or don’t want to.

  14. E says:

    I’ve tried to cover up but soon realized covering up was not going to work by means of a blanket or cover up. I also tried nursing shirts but after a friend informed me I walked through a store w/my slit accidentally unbuttoned (& she didn’t even tell me!) I was traumatized beyond belief.

    Ever since I have worn a belly band (which, for anybody who doesn’t know, is a band of fabric many women wear to be able to continue to wear their pre-pregnancy pants, etc. throughout pregnancy — I made some by cutting off the top of some tight tank tops — tight ones are ideal because they stay up & don’t fall down, though they may eventually sag, they stay up pretty well) for nursing. By wearing a belly band my stomach is completely covered & I can lift my shirt for baby to nurse (I can even nurse while pregnant & my pregnant belly doesn’t even show w/the great coverage of the belly band).

    I have had countless people tell me they have had no idea I was nursing because they couldn’t see anything… which is my goal as much as anybody else’s around me. I can even nurse standing up & everybody thinks baby is just sleeping. I love the not having to mess around w/hot blankets or cover ups and also not having anybody else see MY body. The only time someone has seen my breast or nipple is when THEY were hovering over me (literally). If someone stands/sits that close, well then, they may see something they don’t want to see. If someone sits/stands at a normal distance, which I would want them to do anyway just to respect MY space (nursing or not), they won’t see anything other than baby’s head.

    One thing I don’t understand though is that women will freak out over a nursing woman if they see a breast or nipple, yet a bottle has a fake nipple & nobody screams indecency. Some may see the comment as ridiculous but really, think about it, just because it isn’t attached to the mama is is okay… it is a fake nipple, but the real deal is gross, icky, flaunting, etc.?!

    On the other hand, I personally think we really need to grow up as a nation & get over it… we see more skin on girls & women everywhere we go w/the barely there shorts, micro skirts, shirts, & so-called dresses that are actually SHIRTS, yet we freak out if we see some skin when someone nurses?! It is a really sad concept to allow that mentality to grow and that comes from someone who does NOT want anyone seeing my breast, nipple, or even stomach when nursing. I just think we need to see how screwed up our views are that we are so desensitized to clothing & seeing skin that way, yet we freak out about a women feeding her child.

    There is nothing indecent about a women nursing, whether we see skin or not, but we should absolutely find it indecent when someone’s shorts or skirt are so short that we can see her butt cheeks, or when clothing is so tight we can see her butt crack through her jeans (ooooo, & even better, her thong riding up out of the back of her jeans! YUCK!), or her ribs & boobs (or boobs & flab) show through her shirt because it is so tight (or so low cut or both).

    You don’t want to see my skin while nursing?! Well I don’t want to see YOURS when you aren’t nursing. I will nurse whenever & wherever I have the right to be. Just like, unfortunately, you feel you have the right to dress however you want to, no matter how indecent it is. I won’t let a messed up society tell me nursing is sexual or indecent and that looking like a hoochie is decent & acceptable.

    • Erica says:

      I’m guessing you feed in cradle style. I feed in football. Best way with my baby so not as discreet. If you use cradle style you can so hide it with practice!

    • Rachel says:

      I agree with everything. Especially the half naked women we see everyday and nobody cares.
      I try to breastfeed and everyone’s up in arms about how I’m exposing myself.
      I prefer to cover, but it’s not always possible.
      Go moms! You do what needs to be done to feed your child

    • Alexandra says:

      Oh the whole belly band idea is fantastic totally gona try it I’m the cover up kind of person I’m just to shy and uncomfortable about my boobs showing and I’m always tryn to wear something easy to breast feed mostly the tank tops or strap kinds I hate lifting my whole shirts Cus then I’ll be showing my stomache that I’m so not comfortable showing but the belly band idea sounds great now I’ll be able to lift my shirts up without showing nothin thanks a lot

  15. lisa says:

    i was 16 when i had my first child and of course was very self conscious, then with each child i have become less “private” i am 35 and have an 11 month old and i dont pull my breast out in the store, i will cover up and walk around feeding him and in the parking lot will sit in the car and just take it out, I feel like i am so over trying to cover up. i think my family is more self conscious about it than me ( they have calmed down some lol) i have found the best thing to use as a cover up other than the expensive ones they sell is a pack and play fitted sheet, it fits over my shoulder and right under the baby. just and fyi

  16. Bethania says:

    When I had my first baby, I thought I would cover up because I don’t like public display, but soon I realized that when trying to cover up I would easy become frustrated as I struggled to help him latch and his crying for food made me even more frustrated so I gave up on trying to cover up. It became a much more comfortable experience for both the little one and me.

  17. Ashley says:

    I’m not comfortable being uncovered. It’s just a mental thing for me. I don’t really even like having male doctors. But I absolutely love that my church has a nursing room with rocking chairs. We can feed our little ones and still watch the service in comfort and privacy. I never have to worry about using a cover in there. It’s just us ladies. 🙂

  18. Nancy says:

    I’m a first time mom and I will definitely breastfeed my baby and I couldn’t care less if people get offended by my not covering up. It shouldn’t be an issue to discuss for anyone. You don’t like it don’t look at it period!

    • Member says:

      Really? What do u think a 13 year old boy thinks? I can’t stand it when women say if you don’t like it just don’t look and stomp their feet like children. Sooo annoying. Teenage boys still see a boob whether a baby is attached or not. They can’t help it. Just the way they are wired. Have some respect for others. What if a grown man just pulled out his junk and peed in front of teenage girls? I mean it’s only natural. What about animals going at it in front of kids? That ok too? Still a natural thing. No matter what you say a teenage boy still see’s a boob. And what about the perv’s?? That doesn’t bother you? I just can’t understand having no respect for others at all. I would never expose myself to other peoples children. Ever! I just don’t get this.

      • Erica says:

        Peeing isn’t giving nutrition to a human being that cannot provide for themselves.

      • Jennifer says:

        Member, you obviously don’t have any children considering you don’t understand the issue at hand. Perhaps you should find a forum designed for old spinsters, prudes or whatever you are and leave real moms alone to decide for themselves how best to feed their babies.

      • Ashley says:

        Okay seriously a man whipping out his “junk” as u referred to it as is way different then breast feeding. The baby’s head covers more then most bikinis and a 13 year old boy can find a lot worse on the internet even at school just sayin. Also it’s not disrespectful of me to feed my baby in public it’s natural and that’s what breasts are for. Do u have a problem with a man being in public without a shirt on, that’s natural. What if u saw a man that has been taking estrogen to produce milk because his wife couldn’t and he was breast feeding uncovered in public. Like u said a boob is a boob so do u think a teenaged boy is going to be looking at that boob in such a manor??

  19. Tricia says:

    I love the fact that I can give her breast milk, and I do it in public when I can, I just cover up, but don’t care if others don’t. I know how wonderful it is to feed your little one, so who am I to tell someone else how to do that.

  20. Angel says:

    I used to cover up but when my son hit 3 months, he kept pulling it off, taking it off his head and trying to cover his eyes with it (only way he’d sleep). I just recently gave away my cover to a lady who needs it more. I just pull my shirts up so that they cover the top part of my breast and he covers the rest. You can hardly tell what I’m doing. I actually saw a lady breastfeeding at a friends baby shower a few months ago. I didn’t even know that she was breastfeeding until she had to put her hand between her and her son to keep her breast up so that he could eat. I’d rather be at home but I refuse to sit in my hot car or a nasty bathroom to do feedings. So I try my hardest to be discreet. 🙂 Cudo’s to all the Mommy’s. Whether it be breast or bottle, you are doing great! 🙂

  21. Christina says:

    I have no problem breastfeeding in public for me its just another bottle & ppl can be mad but I dont care.
    Any answer for how to keep the breast from getting saggy after I’m done?

  22. Teresa says:

    This is exactly how I feel. I support breastfeeding in any way a mother chooses, but for me I love my privacy.If I have to nurse when I am out I usually do so in the car because I feel pretty secluded.

  23. Vanessa says:

    I just love this article and I’m so with you re: breastfeeding. I’m a first time mom of a beautiful 9 month old boy and breastfeeding was really difficult for me and challenging. But worth it and now I enjoy every minute of it. I don’t feel comfortable breastfeeding my lil one in public if I could avoid it o will most defenetly will. I always prepare feeding my son before leaving home and if I have to feed in public I go into bidding and use a cover up. I hate the fact that people stare. I also feel like I expose my self and there are perverted men out there. Yes I know that breastfeeding its not a sexual thing but you don’t know how other men see it. But if you don’t mind not covering up that cool too. That’s just my opinion. Love this article.

  24. Tia says:

    I never use a cover. I also feed in public a lot. My little guy hates being covered anyways.

  25. Lorena says:

    I am all for breastfeed feeding also. I could not agree more with this article. I prefer not to feed in public and put myself on display for all to see, but I am not against public feedings.

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