Nursing in Public (NIP)

A lot of people tell me that they find breastfeeding impractical and inconvenient. This normally registers a WTF expression on my face. I have never found breastfeeding impractical! Ok well, that's a lie. There is one instance when it is impractical - in the car while baby is in the carseat, crying. I used to have enough space to hunch over his face and breastfeed him like that (yes, for real), but now that there are two carseats at the back of our 5-seater saloon car, I hardly have any space to do anything, so it gets mighty uncomfortable when the baby is hungry for his nenen.

Anywayyyyy back to the topic at hand. Breastfeeding is so NOT inconvenient! Not to diss formula-feeding mamas, but I think that washing, drying and sterilizing of bottles, and having to lug around (or God forbid - try to find) sterile water while out and about is a huge inconvenience. However, a lot of mamas point out that nursing in public is a huge pain in the butt, so they end up spending most of their time at home for as long as they're breastfeeding. Now that is just depressing.

I go out all.the.time. And, as I've said before, I always bring my kids with me. Just because you're breastfeeding, doesn't mean you have to be a recluse. There is nothing shameful or impractical about breastfeeding. If anything, you should be showing off that you're doing the best for your baby! Of course, that doesn't mean you need to show off how you're doing the best for your baby. The key here is to be discreet.

How can I be discreet when I'm breastfeeding, you ask? Well, there are several ways, and here is how I do it:
  • Use nursing wear or improvise on your own wardrobe to make them breastfeeding-friendly. One way to do this (short of actually cutting open your clothes), is to layer a tank top underneath another top. Pull the outer layer up, and the inner layer down, and you've got a make-shift nursing outfit. You can also do this vice versa if the outer layer is more low-cut than the inner layer. Wearing a nursing tank under a cardigan is also discreet - just pull the cardigan to hide any boobage you don't want seen. There are all sorts of garments made for discreet nursing and easy access - I've been wanting to get Skinies because they seem pretty awesome, but I can't afford it right now :p My cousin (who is my nursing hero, still tandem nursing her 3.5-year-old and 2-year-old) swears by control panties that cover up her entire belly. She just pulls up her shirt, and her panties provide coverage.
  • Invest in a good, supportive, easy-to-unclasp nursing bra or just wear a strapless bra. Now, I've had it pretty lucky in this department - my boobs did not gain much weight in the past 2+ years I've been breastfeeding, so I can use my old strapless bras. Unfortunately, its very hard to find nursing bras in my size so I only use the ones from La Leche League, but you can find all kinds of brands here in Malaysia. If possible, try them out first so that you can decide if its suitable for you or not. Apparently, you can also convert your normal bras into nursing bras, as demonstrated here. I'm planning to try that soon.
  • If you're using a sling, you can breastfeed your child in the sling, or use it as a cover-up even if you're not actually wearing your child. Speaking of cover-up, a lot of people use nursing covers. I have

    nothing against them (I even have one myself), but the truth is that although it covers you up physically, its not exactly "discreet". Its like wearing a sign above your head saying "I AM NURSING MY CHILD HERE".
  • Be confident. If you are overly conscious about whether people can see your boobs, you might start adjusting too much and inadvertently reveal that which you did not want to reveal. I should also mention, your baby can tell when you're nervous or uncomfortable, which will likely annoy or confuse them. If you're too stressed out, it can even inhibit your letdown. So, just act like you would in the privacy of your own home. The key, I suppose, is to practice a lot at home first.
Honestly, if I had to show some skin while nursing my babies, I'd rather show my pretty boobies than my stretch-marked, stretchy belly, but here in Malaysia boobies are taboo, so I do what I can to keep em hidden. I did once accidentally flash some people walking past a sushi restaurant, but that was while I was putting my baby in a sling ( I didn't realize my nursing bra's drop cup was still...err...dropped, and my nursing top decided to open up at just that moment). They just turned away, I just blushed, and the moment was over and done with. No biggie.

If you're doing it right, people won't even notice you're nursing. And if they do, its up to them if they want to turn their head away. You are feeding your child - if they find it obscene, they are the ones with the problem, not you. And please, don't ever resort to a toilet to nurse your child! If someone asks that you to do that, you can invite them to also have their meal in the bathroom. Your baby is a person, and people have the right to eat where they want, when they want. 

There is so much more I can say about NIP (nursing in public), but that's all I've got for now. Here are a couple of other links with tips for NIP:
Rules of the Road: Tips for Nursing Discreetly and Publicly 
NIP tips by HoboMama

Also, the pics here are the only NIP pics I can find right now...Gotta get hubby to take some more! Anyway, here's to all you glam nursing mamas out there - keep it up, and keep it in style!
Infamous image of Jerry Hall nursing her baby - now that's glam!