Tuesday, 12 June 2012

An Undercover Breastfeeder

New mums are often worried about breastfeeding in public for the first time.  Thankfully it is rare for anyone to ask you to cover up, move somewhere else or make any other disapproving comments.  

As someone who has lived on the cusp of London for most of my life this doesn’t surprise me:  in London people rarely pay attention to those around them, let alone speak to them. Even if they are doing something incredibly annoying like playing their music far too loud on a tube carriage rammed full of commuters we stay quiet.  So why would anyone worry about breastfeeding?

If you look at social network sites though you will often come across stories (told first and second hand) of breastfeeding mums who have been asked to be more discreet.  This has led to a backlash of comments such as:
  • Why should I feed my baby in the toilet, would you eat your dinner in there?
  • Would you want to eat under a hot stuffy blanket?
  • The mum is feeding the baby because they are hungry and no other reason.
  • If you have a problem you should move.

I agree with these statements and I don’t believe anyone should have to cover up or hide to feed their baby (or toddler) when out and about.  I think it is important that young people are exposed to breastfeeding to normalise it and I also think we have a very weird view in the UK about nudity and sexualising everything.  However when I am breastfeeding in front of most people I know (partner, sisters and mother excluded) or in public I use a nursing cover.

I use a cover because it makes me feel more comfortable, not because of what anyone else might think.  I’ve never been happy for other people to see me partially or fully naked.   I’m one of those women who use the private changing booths in gyms and swimming pools.  When I was younger I would walk out of shop changing rooms without trying anything on if they only had communal areas (whatever happened to those?).  I’ve never been comfortable to sunbathe topless on the beach; I managed it once for about 90 seconds, but quickly wimped out. So my issue isn’t with breastfeeding uncovered, it’s about people seeing my body.

I don’t know why I feel this way; my sister has no similar issues so it isn't about how I was brought up.  I almost feel a little embarrassed using it in front of other breastfeeding mums, like I'm letting the side down, but on the whole using a cover makes me happy.

If like me you feel more comfortable covered up when breastfeeding I would recommend buying one of the many designs of nursing covers available rather than using muslins or blankets as they make the process easier.  

Me feeding Baby M with the Soft Spots Bebe Au Lait Nursing Cover
My cover is by Bebe au Lait and costs around £30.  It stays in place with a strap which goes round my neck, this means I have both my hands to sort out my clothes before and after feeding.  The strap also prevents it falling off which is a if a muslin is being used.  It has a rigid neckline which means I can look down and see Baby M feeding, and she can see me.  This design feature also ensures that she has plenty of air and doesn’t get too hot. 

The additional benefit of a cover now Baby M is older and easily distracted is that it blocks out some of the excitement so she can focus on having a decent feed.  If she does get distracted and wants a look around I can be confident that I wont feel exposed in the process.

This post is my second for the Keep Britain Breastfeeding Scavenger Hunt.  If you don't know about it yet check out the website, but basically a lot of great bloggers are sharing their thoughts and wisdom about breastfeeding and by visiting their blogs you can earn points to enter to win the grand prize of over £500 of goodies. Many are also running competitions to win other prizes. 
Some of the blogs involved are:

Not only are Softbots one of the great companies who have contributed to the Scavenger Hunt Grand Prize (donating a Takara Nursing Top), they also have Bebe au Lait Nursing covers currently on sale at only £20 (while stocks last) AND they are very kindly providing a Cover for one of you to win.  

By leaving a blog comment below and logging your name and email address in Rafflecopter you will be entered into the competition to win the Bebe au Lait Cover and earn points towards the Scavenger Hunt Grand Prize.   

Please check out Softbots website where you will find a range of cloth nappies, cloth nappy accessories, natural baby products and lots of other products that will be helpful in the first years of your babies life.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. I didn't bf but Ep'd and tend to wear scarves all the time I found these helpful in covering up as its hard getting pump on in right place without exposing yourself!!
    Hope to bf next time though :0) Zoe @pumpingmummy dorkingnewsletter@nct.org.uk

  2. I've never reached a point where I want to cover my body up and I'm proud that I'm feeding my son rather than using bottles. I rarely cover up when feeding in public but will if I know there's a lot of distractions for LO or if I'm with male friends who I know would feel uncomfortable if they saw anything. The UK sees anything that involves boobs as a sexual thing which is a shame because it prevents some mum's from having the confidence to bf in public. I adopt a 'I don't care' attitude. I.e. if you have a problem with me doing this then it's just that. Your problem. Move on and shut up.' it's a big confidence booster to know that the law is on my side too. If all else fails a 'if you're hungry, you eat, so why should I stop my child doing the same thing' normally shuts nay sayers up :) be confident, be strong, be happy :) x

    1. I always have in my head that if anyone said anything to me I would cite the law at them, but no one ever has

  3. Thanks for sharing :) I've never been very confident with my body, and my main issue with breastfeeding has been my very small breasts, ironically! I think people are wondering how on earth I can manage to feed my son with them. They of course are probably not thinking that, but that's how I see it. I didn't buy a cover though, because by the time I'd heard about them, I'd already found clothes that didn't expose much, and as I don't have big breasts, it's actualyl quite easy to cover much of them up. I think it's great if you can be confident with your body, but like you, it's an issue I have with myself rather than what others think, and all mums are different when it comes to body image.

  4. I've said this before and I'll it again take a tinkle first or live to regret it!

  5. I also have a blog post about breastfeeding! I use the hot dots Bebe Au Lait cover - Love it.
    Love this blog post as well. Thanks for blogging about it =]

  6. I would say its really important to get comfortable before breastfeeding, as you could be stuck in the same spot for quite a while!

  7. Persevering is the key to successful Breastfeeding - top tip! :)

    Fab post! I was ashamed of Breastfeeding and avoided doing it in public at all costs! This Breastfeeding scavenger hunt has opened my eyes to so many other people who have felt the same as e and helped me build confidence! I plan on taking pride in Breastfeeding with my next baba :)

    Thank you fir such a great post

  8. Elizabeth Williams13 June 2012 at 01:22

    My top tip is having a good network of support; if you have a partner that they are supportive and encouraging and fellow breastfeeding mums who can relate and provide support, encouragement and advice.

    Great post :)

  9. My top tip is to set yourself up somewere nice and comfy as you never know how long you will be there for especialy in the early days with all of the essential things you may need espcialy a muslin, drink and a snack and anything else so you can reach it easily : )

  10. My second baby was predictable and an easy feeder so I would get comfy and always have a drink on hand. My first was hard work initially as she was tube fed for a week so we had some catching up to do, latching was a problem and the best tip someone gave me was nipple shields, I used these for about 6 weeks and until she could latch. So i'd say don't give up. @MummyFever

  11. I never bought a feeding cover but am someone who needs the comfort of a cover to feed in public without anxiety - I bought lots of lovely muslin cloths with pretty patterns and tuck one into my bra strap before freeing my boob to feed - they are cheap and great for mopping up milky burps afterwards too!

  12. I think the blocking out excitement thing is a good idea for us at the moment - feeding in the day has become extremely stop start stop start!

  13. My top tip would be to find your local support/peer supporters/breastfeeding group before baby is born so you can get to know them, this makes it much easier to contact them after baby is born; faces to names and voices. Its good to know you have support from people who you know and are familiar with and that you trust.
    They can also tell you all the great places to feed whilst out and about!

  14. My top tip is to keep yourself occupied when giving your baby a long feed as it passes the time quickly. So when you don't feel like you want to sit for an hour and breastfeed your baby, doing something else will keep you occupied and your baby gets a proper feed. Not that I would ever not want to sit down and breastfeed, but I did find myself sometimes getting impatient because I had left my dinner on the table or had started a project. Forget them! Baby comes first :-)

  15. My top tip is to be relaxed about it all, take your time, dont put any pressure on yourself and enjoy the magical time with your baby.

  16. My top tip is to find a small independent cafe if you're out and need to breastfeed. The atmosphere makes it easier to get into conversation with other customers or the staff - and if you seem confident enough to chat to strangers while breastfeeding, other people will generally follow your lead. Making friends with the staff also means you can ask for more coffee or cake if the feed takes longer than expected without having to go up to the counter!

  17. I did use a cellular blanket when my oldest was tiny but soon realised it was more trouble than it was worth. I completely understand that for some Mums, using a cover is a great comfort and although, I prefer not to use one , I would never judge a Mum for doing so.

    My top tip would be to visit a site like The Breastfeeding Network, NCT or UNICEF when you are pregnant to get a basic idea of what to expect and where to find support should you have any problems.

  18. My top tip would be double layer your tops so when you feed you don't show or get a cold tummy.

  19. Make sure you pee before you sit down!

  20. I don't usually use a cover because I like to see my baby but it would be handing when there are people around who I wouldn't feel confortable feeding around like male family memebers

  21. My top tip would be ask for help. And from different sources. And then take the ifnormation that is right for you and use it :)

  22. I don't have a tip yet, I'm 37 weeks pregnant. I've been blog hopping all night reading some fantastic blog posts about breast feeding and all my questions and concerns have been adressed. thanks for all the info, can't wait to start breast feeding


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