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Breastfeeding FAQs: Out and About

Some new moms might feel a little nervous about nursing in public. But with some practice, you can feel confident about breastfeeding when you’re out and about.

How can I be discreet when nursing in public?

To keep things private:

  • Drape a small blanket or shawl over your shoulder and breast.
  • Pull up your shirt or sweater, then cover your baby's head with a blanket. 
  • Use a baby sling, in the cradle position, to nurse. 

When trying one of these, make sure that your baby's mouth and nose aren't blocked and that there’s room to breathe.

When dining in restaurants, you can ask for an isolated booth for a little more privacy. Try to face away from other patrons. If you're shopping at a store or mall, ask if there’s a lactation room. Some other places to nurse when you’re out include a changing room or your car.

What clothes are best for "easy access"?

Nursing bras: A variety of nursing bras are available — with snaps, clasps, and flaps that open and attach either in the middle (between the breasts) or on the bra straps. Which kind of bra you use is up to you and what you find most comfortable.

If you buy your bras before you deliver, just remember that your breast size will likely increase as your breasts fill with milk, and then change again as your body adjusts to breastfeeding.

Tops: You can buy special nursing wear or just wear shirts that open in the front. Or try a comfortable shirt or sweater that you can easily pull down or pull up to allow your baby to feed.

Whatever type of clothes you wear, they'll probably need to be slightly larger than your pre-pregnancy size because your breasts are likely to be bigger than usual while you're nursing..

Is it normal to leak?

Absolutely! Leaking can happen when you see a baby, hear a baby cry, see a picture of your own baby, or even think about your baby! That’s your maternal instinct to feed your child kicking in.

One breast also may leak while you're nursing on the other. In that case, it may help to put a towel, burp cloth, or cotton diaper over the other one.

You can buy disposable or washable cotton nursing pads to wear in your bra to help deal with leaks and protect your wardrobe. Some women wear pads all the time while nursing; others wear them only when out in public. You also could use clean folded handkerchief squares inside your bra.

 Avoid using plastic-lined pads, which can make it hard for your nipples to get enough air.

If you're leaking and aren't wearing or carrying any nursing pads, try discreetly crossing your arms over your chest and applying a little pressure. Wearing patterned tops also can help make a sudden leak less noticeable.

Reviewed by: Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD
Date Reviewed: Jan 10, 2021

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