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Can You Give Me Some Tips for Discreet Breastfeeding?

Being modest doesn't have to keep you and your baby at home (or hidden in the restrooms). It's easy to breastfeed discreetly in public if you wear the right clothes. A loose-fitting shirt or top that lifts or can be unbuttoned from the waist will let you feed your baby without exposing your breast, because the baby will cover the nipple and lower breast. You can also buy (or sew your own) special nursing blouses, dresses, or shirts, with hidden slits and panels. (Ads for such patterns and clothes are often found in La Leche League's magazine, New Beginnings, and other parenting publications.) If you wear a nursing bra, it's easiest to breastfeed discreetly if the bra can be pulled up or unfastened and re-fastened with one hand.

Getting the baby latched on properly can be awkward in the early weeks, while you are both still learning, but you'll soon find yourself able to easily and smoothly get your baby to the breast. If you bring along a shawl or small blanket, you can cover the baby and any part of your midriff that might be exposed. Sitting near a wall or corner will usually give you the most privacy. Restaurant booths can give even more privacy, especially if another adult sits on the aisle, but sometimes the table will be too close to give you and your baby enough room.

Here's a suggestion for discreet nursing for those who don't have clothing specifically designed for breastfeeding, with easy access openings. Cut slits in the front of an old t-shirt and wear this shirt under a large shirt or sweater. Then, when you pull up the sweater to nurse you still have the t-shirt covering up your midriff. In addition to being discreet it's also warmer in the winter!

Another tip many mothers find helpful is to use a baby sling when your baby needs to nurse in public. These terrific slings, sold under several brand names, are worn over only one shoulder, are easily adjustable, very comfortable, in soft washable cotton. They form a pouch to support your baby. He/she can be held in several different positions, up to 30 lbs. When the baby is in the "cradle" position to nurse, the fabric of the pouch can be pulled up over the baby, protecting him, and any of your skin, from exposure! These slings are sold through many LLL Groups, through NEW BEGINNINGS, or at some baby supply stores.

Rest assured that discreet breastfeeding becomes easier with practice--it is a learned skill. Before you first breastfeed in a social setting or in a public place, you may want to practice in front of a mirror so you'll be able to see what others would see and make adjustments. Learn to recognize your baby's pre-nursing cues. It's easier to get a baby latched on discreetly when he's not crying and calling attention to you while your fumbling with the clips and your clothes.

Recommended Reading: Our resource pages on Breastfeeding in Public and Baby Wearing.

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