If you have decided to breastfeed, you will want to figure out how it's going to work for you and the baby in public. No one is really looking, but you might feel like they are! The key for breastfeeding in public is to plan ahead with what you need to be comfortable and covered so that you can reap the benefits of having free, built-in, ready-to-go warm milk located literally inches away from the baby you are carrying around without worrying about being stared at or bring asked to leave a business.
I've breastfed in public in a lot of places since I started 15 years ago with my first of four children- it feels like I should insert some "in my day" joke here like, "In my day we had to breastfeed uphill both ways for 18 miles in a blizzard!"
But seriously, breastfeeding can be done anywhere, and if you are feeling shy, I hope this will help. I've breastfed my babies in a million places near and far: in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles, at church, in restaurants, on an elevator, at the mall, on a plane, in a television studio watching a live show being taped (that one was a little stressful), at the state fair, at Disneyland, during an elementary school assembly, and so on. I've made a few mistakes and through trial and error, these are the guidelines that continue to help me.
Here are my tips for breastfeeding in public:
1. Use a Ring sling-style Baby Carrier. This is a giant strip of fabric that you can customize by pulling the fabric through the rings to create a snug fit for you and your baby. You can find them in many different colors and price points. Your baby can be in the sling laying down in a football hold or facing you froggy-style for breastfeeding. If you happen to be wearing a top that doesn't cover you as much as you'd like, you can take the tail and cover up more with it. When your baby falls asleep and you want to put them into their stroller, you can just slip the sling off over your head and lay the baby down still in it with minimal disruption to them, and as a bonus the sling can be their blanket! The sling pictured below is from Snuggy Baby on Esty.
2. Use a nursing tank to keep your tummy covered. Nursing tanks are great because they provide peace of mind that you aren't showing more than you want. They also mean you can wear non-nursing tops so you don't have to buy as much new clothing.
3. Make easy access a priority when you choose your outfit. Avoid tops with a banded or elastic bottom because you will struggle with them once your baby is on you in the sling. I like button up tops or T-shirts because they are really ease to work with when you are trying to quickly get access. For dressier occasions, a button-front dress or a skirt and peasant style blouse look pretty while still giving you breastfeeding freedom.
4. Think about what colors, patterns and materials will hold up to breastfeeding. Your top is going to be pulled up or pushed aside for an extended period of time. It gets a bit hot between you and your baby, and some milk might drip on it or the baby spits up, which means that your top needs to not show wrinkles too much and also that if it does get a little wet you don't want it to be really bad looking.
5. Cardigans and wraps are a good option for covering stains, wrinkles and tummy peek-a-boos. It's nice to have a cardigan on hand because if you happen to misjudge what coverage a top will give you the cardigan can save the day. If your shirt ends up really wrinkly, the cardigan will hide it.
These are my best suggestions. I hope they help! If you have any tips that have worked for you, please share them in the comments!