breastfeeding in publicNursing in public is awesome. I always encourage moms to find a way to make themselves comfortable doing so, because it can make life sooo much easier for mom and it's best for baby.

However, there's a ton of controversy around it as well. Aside from the legal and social right to nurse in public comes another conundrum ... to use or not to use a nursing cover? Sadly, there are people on BOTH sides who have problems with it.

If you use one, you draw attention to the fact that you're nursing, which can earn you positive or negative looks, and can even make someone ask you to leave the location you're in (even if they're doing so illegally). Often moms newer to breastfeeding like nursing covers because newborns can sometimes take a little time to get latched on, and sometimes pop off a lot as well. So being able to work with them without having your breast exposed the whole time can be a point that makes or breaks a mom's willingness to nurse in public. However, there are some hardcore advocates who feel that even the SALE of breastfeeding covers perpetuates the idea that women need to hide to nurse and that women who choose to do so are "showing that they're ashamed of breastfeeding."

If you don't use one, more power to you! There are lots of ways to be discreet if you need/want to breastfeed without using a cover, and often it's easier than messing with a cover as well. It also draws a lot less attention to you. In warm areas, babies don't overheat this way, and there's even some concern about making babies re-breathe their own CO2 the whole time they're under a blanket. I have issues with things on my face; the idea of having a blanket on my head makes me feel like I can't breathe. As babies get older, they often see being covered as MORE of a distraction than not, or even as a game, as Code Name: Mama did a great job of showing in her video:

The bottom line is this:

If you want to use a nursing cover, do it. Try to find a lightweight one so your baby doesn't overheat, and also practice other ways to nurse discreetly in case your baby decides in the middle of a feeding that that blanket over their head is uncomfortable or annoying or is a form of playing Peek-A-Boo. Never tell another mother who chooses not to use one that she needs to use one, or try to push YOUR ideal level of comfort off as if it's somehow Miss Manner's new guideline. There are moms who would like to use covers but can't because their toddler fights it, and yes, telling women they MUST cover up IS oppressive.

If you don't want to use one, don't, but never tell another mother she's doing anything wrong if she chooses to use one. She draws MORE attention to the fact she's nursing by using one, so often the reason moms use them isn't because they're ashamed of the fact they're nursing, but often from personal modesty or shyness. It's no more polite to tell a woman she should stop using a cover than it would be to tell her she should wear a lower cut shirt -- it's none of your business. Just be glad she's nursing in the first place, and if you really feel the need, show her some other ways she can nurse discreetly, too.

Do you prefer to nurse with or without a cover?

 

Image via Michele Zipp