10 Tips for Breastfeeding in Public Without Fear

As a new mom, breastfeeding in public can be a daunting task. Here are some tips that will make nursing in a public place easier so you can do it without any fear or shame.

breastfeed in public

I remember clear as day the first time I nursed in public.

I was at a mall, and my son started crying and headbanging against my chest. I quickly ran to a lounge chair near the entrance of Nordstrom that was out of the way of heavy traffic but still very visible to any passerby. I chose that spot purposely, because I wanted to really experience nursing in public, and not hiding in a corner where nobody would see me.

I put on my cover, laid my son down in my arms, and took out my boob. I distinctly remember the blood rushing to my face and sweating like crazy from the adrenaline rush. Even though my heart was beating so fast that it felt like it was going to jump out of my chest, I tried to the best of my abilities to act like I wasn’t doing anything out of the ordinary.

After my baby was full, he tried to kick off the cover and sit up, and I panicked momentarily as the cover was slightly lifted while my boob was still out of my bra. I stuffed my boob back in a hurry and proudly took off my cover. I did it!

To many moms, nursing in public is a terrifying thought. I was truly petrified at the thought of it as a new mom, but after nursing my son for 2 years and still currently nursing my 3-year-old daughter, I have gotten very comfortable breastfeeding my baby in a public setting. I have breastfed at Disneyland, in an airplane, at the mall, at a movie theater, at a wedding, on the beach, etc.

Don’t let your fear stop you from feeding your child!

Now, no one is forcing you to nurse in public – it’s completely up to you. But if you decide to commit to it, here are some tips on how to nurse in public and conquer your fears.

Tips for Breastfeeding in Public without Shame

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Tips for Nursing in Public

1. Join a breastfeeding support group.

You don’t have to dive right in and nurse with tons of stranger walking by you. Start slow and join a breastfeeding support group to get comfortable nursing your baby while surrounded by other breastfeeding moms.

I remember attending a support group for the first time and seeing other moms taking out their boobs and nursing their babies without a cover. I was shocked that they could be so comfortable and confident with their bodies to show their boobs to the rest of the room.

After a few sessions, I was happily nursing my baby while chatting with other moms… and one of the topics we talked about was nursing in public!

2. Nurse with other breastfeeding moms.

Go out with other breastfeeding moms and nurse the little ones at the same time.Trust me, when a whole group of moms is sitting in a restaurant together, trying to eat with one hand while holding a nursing baby with the other, you almost feel left out not breastfeeding your baby.

Come on, everyone is doing it!

3. Wear the right outfit.

I personally like to wear shirts with a stretchy neckline and so the breasts are easy to pop out and use a cover in public. Other people like the layered approach, where you wear a nursing tank top on the inside and a shirt on top of that. This way, you can just unlatch the tank top, pull up the shirt, and pop on the baby without showing any breast or tummy.

Recently, I have seen some moms wear a halter top and take out their breasts from the side. I have also seen moms who just pull down their shirts and nurse without a care in the world. Kudos to them!

Wear whatever works for you, because the last thing you want to do is fumble with your clothes while a demanding baby is trying to gain access to the motherload. I have ripped more than one shirt doing just that … oops.

4. Choose the right nursing cover (if you choose to use one).

Most moms start off with a nursing cover that pretty much is like a reverse cap. The problem with that type of cover is that your baby can easily grab it and you end up fighting to keep yourself covered while nursing.

Some people use a blanket and tuck the blanket into their bra straps to keep it in place. I didn’t discover the multi-use infinity stretchy shawl until my daughter was born, and I regret ever using anything else.

The shawl covers you and your baby all around your body so your baby can’t just kick it off. It’s easy to put on and on cold days I just wear it around like a scarf. I have seen moms use it as a car seat cover as well when the baby was young to shield the baby from the sun.I feel completely comfortable nursing with the shawl anywhere because of its coverage, and my baby is comfortable too.

5. Try nursing in a carrier.

Nursing your baby in a carrier is great because you have both of your hands-free while nursing, so you can run errands or do house chores while feeding your baby.

A carrier also acts as a cover, so you don’t have to worry about people seeing your stomach or your boob. If you want extra security, you can also throw a cover on while nursing your baby in a carrier.

6. Pick the right spot for YOU.

I started off at the mall because I am the push me in the pool so I have to figure out how to swim or die type of gal. You may choose to start off in a quieter place with fewer people around, such as a park bench in the middle of the day or a restaurant mid-afternoon.

Wherever you choose, just make sure that you are comfortable mentally and physically.

7. Feed the baby before “hanger” sets in.

Gauge your baby’s hunger level and nurse before the baby gets frantic and “hanger” sets in. Trying to get a screaming, starving baby under a cover is like trying to catch a fish out of the water while it’s flopping around everywhere.

Watch for early hunger cues or check the clock to see if it’s about time for feeding so ensure that your baby is calm during the nursing session.

8. Make eye contact and smile at the haters.

If you see people staring at you or talking about you, make eye contact and smile back at them. They will probably just turn around and walk away quickly. Or they may be just curious because they never saw it done before.

Your calm smile will reassure them that breastfeeding in public is as normal as a kid eating an ice cream cone in public. No big deal.

9. Focus on your baby.

If you still feel nervous, just focus on your baby. Smile and play with your baby while nursing and forget about the rest of the world. Who cares what other people think as long as your baby is happy?

10. Practice makes perfect.

Still feeling uncomfortable? Try practicing at home in front of a mirror. You will be assured that you actually can’t see your nipple (provided your baby is latched on correctly) and even much of your boob because your baby’s head is blocking it.

Then start going out to parks, malls, restaurants, or wherever your heart desires to practice. The more you do it, the more comfortable and confident you are going to feel and before you know it, you will be the one inspiring new moms to nurse in public.

It’s Your Right to Breastfeed in Public

Remember, 49 states, the District of Columbia, and the Virgin Islands have laws that allow breastfeeding moms to nurse their babies anywhere they are legally allowed to be, so the law is on your side.

Don’t let your fear imprison you in your own home, and don’t let anyone discourage you from doing something that is so natural and beautiful. 

So go out and paint the town red – though don’t get too crazy because you do have a baby with you who you need to nurse from time to time!

Do you have any other tips for breastfeeding in public? Do you remember how it felt the first time you did it?

How to Breastfeed in Public without Fear

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42 thoughts on “10 Tips for Breastfeeding in Public Without Fear”

  1. I formula fed, so I never had to worry about stuff like this. I know moms do get a lot of grief for feeding in public these days.

  2. I didn’t breastfeed, but I have a lot of friends who did. I know they were so nervous with their first children, but now they are pros!

  3. I am breastfeeding my daughter for the last 12 months and apart from the two first times where I used a cover in public, I never have since. I am really shy generally but when it comes to feeding her I don’t mind at all. There isn’t much to see anyway since my breasts are on the small size. I totally agree with wearing the right clothes and feeding her in the carrier is so much easier!

  4. my mom wasn’t able to breast feed me because I was a premie. will keep this in mind when I have kids. thanks for the share.

  5. This is a great list. When I did it in public I just covered up with a blanket. I didn’t feel comfortable out in the open, but it doesn’t bother me when others do it.

  6. My only fear about breastfeeding in public was that someone was going to say something negative to me and then I was going to go off. Fortunately no one has ever said anything bad to me.

  7. I think breastfeeding is a beautiful thing. These are great tips. I think it should be accepted when a Mom need to feed her baby in public.

  8. I can’t say the first picture didn’t shock me a bit however, I think breastfeeding is a must for the kid’s health and all the women should do it (if they can). So I’ll keep this in mind when I hit my breastfeeding in public 🙂

  9. Blair villanueva

    Breastfeeding shouldn’t be an issue. It is normal. Only the perverts make it a big deal because subconcious they are distracted. You’ll know instantly he/she is a pervert in this situation.

  10. Love the make eye contact with the haters lol I don’t get what people find so bad about breastfeeding, it really annoys the hell out of me! I was gutted that I oculd not feed my son and had to use formula due to his allergies, the feeling is just amazing and really gives you a strong bond.

  11. This is a great article. I loved the tips. I breastfed my children and I always felt like eyes were on me whenever I had to feed them in public. I learned to just ignore the haters.

  12. This brought back many memories. I breastfed fearlessly and luckily didn’t encounter any haters. This is great advise for moms who plan to breastfeed in public.

  13. Love this! Your post will be very helpful for first time breastfeeding moms. Breastfeeding can be challenging enough, much more when you go out in public. I totally agree with joining a support group and wearing the right clothes to make nursing comfortable and convenient for both mum and baby is very important.

  14. I actually happen to live in the ONE state that has no laws protecting breastfeeding mothers, how ridiculous is that?! THANK YOU for posting this, I love breastfeeding, but I’m always nervous in public. I love your tip about focusing on your baby, that’s what I’ve done. I haven’t had the courage yet to smile at the haters. But I do find that simply looking at my baby keeps my head clear and let’s me relax.

    1. Wow that’s crazy! People just need to get over it! I agree that our babies are everything to us so focusing on them makes a huge difference! <3

  15. These are great 😍😍😍 I was never comfortable nursing in public. I’m not super modest or shy about it, I just honestly didn’t like it. My son would always pop off to look around every 2 minutes 😂 Plus I did a lot of pumping so I would just give bottles. These are really helpful though, I’m going to share it!

  16. I LOVE YOUR BLOG! Seriously, this post made me laugh! The flapping fish! That is exactly how to describe it. I used to have so much Anxiety when I would breast-feed in public that I would have panic attacks. But now since I’m on my third baby I don’t care that much, I still try to be modest and not let my boob hang out. But now I’m not looking around I just kind of focus on what I’m doing and I try not to make eye contact for too long with strangers haha! What I found helps a lot is wearing two shirts, a tank under a loose t shirt and pulling the tank under my nipple and the loose t shirt just over it and the tee makes a nice cover for his mouth. Almost no one knows I’m feeding! I’ve had so many people this he’s sleeping in my arms that they go to have a close look at the baby and then I’m like “BACK UP, I’m feeding him” hahaha motherhood is sooo AWKWARD!

    1. Aw thank you so much Katherine! Yes the two shirt method works very well! Haha I hate when people have vision issues or something and come so close to my boob while breastfeeding then was like OH OOPS I thought he was sleeping! Why would we be pressing our baby against our boob while they sleep?!?

  17. You know you’re a breastfeeding Momma when you see that top picture and the first thing you think is Great Latch! 😉 I was always so nervous about nursing in public! I travelled a lot the first year so I did it several times on planes and in airline terminals. Thankfully, I never ran into any haters!

  18. I love this! So empowering to breastfeeding moms! I wish I was able to keep it up longer. We went two months before discovering my son has PRS – and couldn’t successfully breastfeed. I miss the rush of endorphins while breastfeeding. It was so amazing to bond with him like that. Great tips here!

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