1. Practise with a mirror
Nursing at home in front of a mirror will give you a good sense of how much skin you’re actually showing. If you’re modest, figuring out how to latch baby without flashing passersby could help you feel more relaxed when you sit down in a mall or at your in-laws’ house. Keep in mind that the baby will cover most of your belly (if you’re pulling up your shirt) and all of your nipple once he’s latched, so there’s really not much left to see.
2. Dress for success
Your shift dresses can be moved to the back of the closet. (It’s tricky to breastfeed in a dress, unless it’s a nursing dress with a lift-up flap, a wrap style, or one that opens at the front.) Two-piece outfits with loose, stretchy or button-up tops work best. And nursing bras with easy-to-use clasps are essential.
TRY Bravado’s extra-long nursing tanks with nursing clasps at the straps keep your tummy totally covered; T-shirts, tanks and dresses from Momzelle have convenient lift-up flaps; Cake Lingerie’s bras in fun colours and fabrics are both pretty and functional.
3. Pick a good spot
Of course you can nurse anywhere—and there’s no reason to hide—but opting for an out-of-the-way table in a restaurant or a quiet corner of a store, with fewer distractions, might make the experience easier and more enjoyable for you and the baby. If you’re on a plane, you might find it feels more private to nurse in the window seat instead of an aisle seat. Many malls (and some airports) have family-friendly rooms where you can nurse and do diaper changes with ease, sometimes with toys for older kids, too.
4. Cover up (but only if it makes you more comfortable)
“Personally, I don’t like breastfeeding covers,” says Rachel Douthwaite, a lactation consultant and clinical educator in Vancouver. It can be tricky to keep them from sliding off a squirming baby and they may feel too hot in the summer months. But some moms enjoy the extra privacy that draping a shawl or blanket over their shoulder provides. (And babies who are too distracted to nurse may benefit from it as well.)
TRY Wire-topped products like Udder Covers stay put (you hang them around your neck like an apron) and allow you to see your baby while she feeds; the nursing blanket–meets–scarf by Honest Company is stylish enough to wear even when you’re no longer nursing; and Aden + Anais swaddle blankets are lightweight and multi-purpose (good for catching spit-up or creating a makeshift stroller shade).
Know your rights
If a store owner or restaurant manager approaches you, know that it’s your baby’s human right to feed anywhere and any time, and that legally they can’t ask you to stop or move. You’re protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms; the provincial human rights codes in Ontario and British Columbia take it a step further and specifically detail the freedoms of breastfeeding mothers. “Moms should know their rights,” says Douthwaite. “But it’s also important to realize that these types of incidents are relatively rare. I nursed my kids in every public space imaginable for a total of six years, in three different countries, and only once had anyone say anything negative to me about it.” You may be pleasantly surprised: Most people are more accepting of breastfeeding moms than you might think.
A version of this article appeared in our May 2016 issue with the headline, “Breastfeeding in public,” on p. 55.
Check out our editors’ picks for nursing wear and accessories that make breastfeeding on-the-go a heck of a lot easier:
Judge says no to breastfeeding in court: We object!
Breastfeeding: Tim Hortons tells woman to cover up
The best places in Canada to breastfeed in public
These ads show the ridiculousness of nursing on the toilet
6 things I wish I knew about breastfeeding and exercise