Two precious children have made me a Mama: a three-year-old girl, Cora; and a six-month-old son, Freddy. For several reasons, my time breastfeeding Cora was short-lived, and I never had to breastfeed her outside of our home. Fortunately, the second time’s a charm and my breastfeeding journey with Freddy has been a natural partnership from day one. He’s had a great latch and appetite from the beginning, and I’ve put effort into pumping at work to provide bottles for him while I’m away and maintain my supply. Since I have a goal to breastfeed for a year, and the fact that I have a three-year-old, I have had to jump head-first into nursing Freddy on-the-go. The first time his hunger kicked in unexpectedly was when we were in the waiting room of an auto shop getting the oil changed in my car. It was an experience filled with stress, sweat (am I the only one who gets hot flashes while nursing?) and jittery hands trying to hold a blanket over my boob and belly while also maintaining a good latch and not letting my four-week-old tumble to the grimy ground.
Since that first incident in the auto shop, nursing has only gotten easier. I’ve found myself nursing at Cora’s dance class, doctor’s office waiting rooms, family dinners, picnics, street festivals, countless restaurants and shopping mall parking lots. Large dressing rooms with a seat are ideal for nursing. I’ve also nursed in the car with the windows cracked on nice days, but sometime you just have to sit on the sidewalk and take care of business. I’ve never had anyone tell me I’m nursing somewhere I shouldn’t be, or even really take a second look at me while nursing, which was a relief when I was just starting out.
In general, I think nursing gets easier as baby gets older; as he grows stronger, he can hold his head up and find my breast easier, and since he’s longer, his lower body can rest on my lap while I cradle his torso. If you’re really struggling to get your baby to latch and to maintain the latch, take a look at how you’re sitting. I really struggle with chairs that are too tall, even though they don’t seem that tall when you’re just sitting in them. If my lap isn’t squared-off enough, it’s hard for me to maintain my and my baby’s stability. This was something I didn’t realize until I had been nursing for a couple months; I knew some chairs were better than others, but I couldn’t quite figure out why. Sometimes when you’re nursing in a new place, you’re just trying to make it work, but taking a minute to make sure you’ve got a somewhat comfortable place to set up shop can make it go much more smoothly.
I always prefer to keep covered while nursing, which is easier said than done when you’re trying to keep a blanket over yourself and your baby (especially as they get older and acquire those wandering hands!). After maybe a month of nursing Freddy, I decided to make the investment in a nursing cover I was actually excited about. After reading countless reviews online, I purchased this. I love that it keeps my back, sides and stomach covered while I’m nursing, and my baby can’t kick it off. It’s also incredibly stretchy, so I often hook it around my knee when I’m nursing to help hold the neckline open so I can see in while trying to get Freddy to latch, which is helpful since I always feel like I could use an extra hand or two while nursing. Also, I just think it’s really cute.
I truly believe that in Colorado Springs, breastfeeding in public is so commonplace, people hardly notice it anymore. I am relieved to say I have never received a side-eye or snarky comment from a passerby while feeding Freddy. And while it may make it more difficult to eat your dinner while giving your baby his, just remember the convenience of nursing versus bringing bottles with water and formula (I had to do that with my daughter and I don’t miss it). The first time you reluctantly pull your baby out of his or her car seat to nurse while you’re out running errands, remember this: if you’re struggling with discreetly nursing your baby in public, this will get easier with time and a little bit of trial and error, just like many things in motherhood.