I didn’t know I was The Badass Breastfeeder when Jack was born. I knew I wanted to breastfeed, but I had no idea that was unusual. I didn’t know some people found it offensive. I didn’t know it tugged at the heartstrings of mothers who weren’t able to breastfeed or didn’t have the support to reach their breastfeeding goals. I certainly had no idea that there was a multibillion dollar industry trying to destroy my attempts. I didn’t think twice about breastfeeding in public. I bought a “hooter hider” because I thought it was something that you were supposed to buy just like a crib, a stroller and a changing table.
My One Night Stand with a NIP Slip
When Jack was about 2 weeks old my sister and I went to a restaurant down the street from my house. I breastfed Jack there with no cover. I didn’t think the cover was needed at this hippie-themed restaurant. No one said anything to me except “he’s so cute,” “congratulations” and “what’s his name.” I wasn’t braced for harassment. I didn’t think that sort of thing happened. I had never seen a person breastfeeding in public, but I had also never heard of it being discouraged. Clearly, I had no expectations. Before Jack came along I was too busy trying to figure out how to get my high heels higher and my pants tighter. I was completely unaware of the politics that came along with all areas of parenting.
There was one place I did plan to use that NIP slip; my parent’s country club. It is not the sort of place you see on TV. It is very relaxed and it’s a miracle if five minutes goes by without hearing someone drop an “f” bomb. My kind of place. I had spent summers hanging around my Dad’s golf buddies, cursing up a storm, laughing until my face hurt and going beer for beer with the biggest guy. Now I was someone’s mother. The dynamics were changing. I was a “lady” now. I stopped getting cursed in front of and now no one offered me endless amounts of beer. I planned to cover myself while breastfeeding when we finally made it there to show off Jack.
When Jack was about a month old we made the trip. All of my parent’s friends showed up. We took up almost all of the outdoor patio tables. It was time to breastfeed Jack. I kept thinking of this NIP cover and how I dreaded to bring it out since we had gotten so used to life without it. On the other hand I had never used it so maybe it will be fun. My mother encouraged me to use it saying she wasn’t sure how people here would react to breastfeeding. I didn’t know at the time that I would come to not care what other people think. I pulled it around my neck and over Jack. I instantly felt awkward. Jack was distracted by this material against his head. I messed with the opening designed so that you can look down at the baby. I tugged and pulled and readjusted. Jack latched and unlatched and looked around. I was drawing an enormous amount of attention to myself. I had never been uncomfortable breastfeeding in public and now I was totally uncomfortable and embarrassed that I was causing such a commotion. I finally took it off, put it in my bag and haven’t seen it since.
Now when we make it to the country club I march around breastfeeding Jack just a confidently as I marched around in my bikini the summers before. Jack gets distracted and pops off sometimes leaving my nipple bouncing there shiny with breast milk. I just laugh at all the people who divert their eyes. I roll my eyes at my mother who says “Abigail, pull your shirt up.” I breastfeed everywhere. I breastfeed on crowded buses, baseball games, restaurants, grocery stores and parks. You name the place, I am sure I have had my boob out there. 99% of the time I am completely comfortable. However, I am also a human being living in America who is painfully aware of the stigma. Just once in a while, when the bus is so crowded that I am smashed up against all the other bodies and Jack begins to cry and I know the only way to address it is to give him boob, I go “oh man, why now Jack?” But I will never withhold his boobie. If he needs it he gets it. I just try to find the fun in the situation. I watch the other people’s faces trying to look away. Usually there is one person brave enough to smile and that’s when Jack unlatches with a loud “SMACK” and smiles right back. I just stand there and smile too with my boob sitting there for the world to see. I like to think that most people don’t care and some are even a little impressed. I know not everyone chooses to breastfeed without a cover and that’s totally cool. Everyone should breastfeed how they feel comfortable. At the end of the day it is about breast milk. It’s not a competition.
I will continue to breastfeed in public without a cover to normalize breastfeeding for Moms and babies.
Abby Theuring, MSW
**If you would like support breastfeeding in public please check out my course Become a Badass Public Breastfeeder in 7 Days.
I made my boobie cover, so I never had problems with it, I personally like mine because it kept my distracted little one from being a marathon eater, I used mine for everything, it served as a cover against the summerheat and winter cold, I wore my babys 24 \7 they are 19 months apart and I even nursed the second one while playing on the playground with my older :) I did experience some weird looks sometimes but I always refused to “hide” to nurse my babys :) and I feel a little bad for those stuck up people worrying so much Iif your being “proper” while feeding your child :)
This article is so me. I tried to cover up with my first baby, but it was always so frustrating i quit. Now on my third baby i don’t care who watches or what they think, I’m just feeding my baby. I never use a cover and even my mother in law who was so against my breast feeding in the beginning, now comments on how awesome i amat breast feeding, as do my girl friends. I love it!
I never used a cover either. I couldn’t get my first baby latched and I feel I’m actually much less obvious without one. Most people just think I’m holding the baby close. I don’t see what the big deal is about BIP.
I love your attitude and loved this article. I only wish I had that kind of courage the first time around. Although second time around things were much different. The more relaxed I was, the more relaxed my baby was.
I agree with you 100%, I refuse to use a cover because it’s not something that I am comfortable with nor is breastfeeding something we should hide. We should be proud that we’re feeding our babies the best way. I’m not embarrassed at all about bf in public. I’m feeding my son the way he was supposed to be fed and if that makes people uncomfortable then they can look away! It’s sad that women are made to feel like they’re the ones doing something wrong by breastfeeding in public, at the end of the day boobs are for feeding babies. :)
I LOVE EBF and I NIP all the time. I’ve only been given accolades for it and we’ve been at it for over six months now. The idea of using a cover makes me uncomfortable, and the Tiny Caesar wouldn’t have any of it. Breastfeeding is so beautiful and I’m proud to be advocating for every woman and baby to have a healthy breastfeeding relationship and to express that love anywhere they are, without shame or degradation by others. Thanks for this great article!
I always used a cover not because I was ashamed but because 1. I am a very modest person and 2. my kids would get distracted and not eat very well. I just used a blanket or baby wearing device though.
I applaud the mommies who are confident enough to have their nipples show. I find it refreshing! And in all honesty, if I have to see another woman’s tits, id rather see it performing the job it was designed to do instead of just hanging out or partially covered. Besides, there is nothing cuter than seeing a milky baby smile
Those covers are a huge pain, and they attract more attention than just doing it without. That said, I’m a new mom, an older (37) new mom with a full time job outside of the full time job of child rearing. If the baby fusses I’m gonna whip it out, I don’t have time to fool around with other people’s insecurities, lol.
I agree that some people avert their eyes because they are uncomfortable, however, it just can’t be construed that because it is polite to offer a smile, it is rude to look away. I personally prefer it when people look away as it offers me a sense of privacy. I sense a sort of self-consciousness in those who require affirmation through smiles, and see shadows where there are none in those who simply couldn’t be bothered.
I wish I had your attitude! I have a 4 month old and I have only been brave enough to breastfeed her in a movie theater. I live in a place where people yell at us for feeding in public. I hate keeping my boob from her but I just can’t work up the courage to do it.
Choosing not to breast feed soluhd be an informed choice and so many women do not get told what the risks of cormula feeding a child are. If you could feed your child the best most nutrient rich organic foods for free or feed them mcdonald’s and pay for it, who in their right mind would choose mcdonald’s? Compiled by Motherwear:Breastmilk contains every nutrient in best proportions for perfect growth of brain and nervous system Taurine, an amino acid abundant in HUMAN milk aids in infant brain development & maturationBreastmilk is easily digested – no worries about milk allergies Nursing provides for optimum jaw, mouth & speech development Breastmilk provides immunity against viral diseases, respiratory infections & bacterial diseases Breastfed babies have fewer colds, ear infections, respiratory problems & digestive complaints Breastfed babies are less likely to succumb to SIDS Breastfed babies are protected against food allergies, dermatitis & chronic liver disease Breastfed babies have improved visual development Breastfed babies are at reduced risk of developing childhood leukemia Children who receive ANY formula in the first six months are at greater risk of developing asthma Babies who receive ANY formula in the first 3 weeks of life have twice the rate of minor neurological dysfunction Among kids aged 8 to 18, those who were breastfed have significantly higher IQ, reading comprehension and math ability Adults who were breastfed have lower cholesterol levels, diabetes, ulcerative colitis & Crohn’s disease Adults who were breastfed are less likely to develop breast cancer Benefits to Mother – Compiled by Motherwear Breastmilk is always ready – no measuring, mixing, or sterilizing bottles Breastmilk is always the right temperature Breastfeeding saves time Breastfeeding saves money – no formula or bottles to buy Fewer doctor visits, fewer prescription and hospitalization expenses. Fewer stained clothes Breastfeeding creates a powerful emotional bond with your baby Breastfeeding moms know they’re doing the very best for their babies Breastfeeding speeds recovery from pregnancy and delivery Oxytocin, a hormone produced in response to sucking, stimulates a sense of well-being Breastfeeding delays return of menstruation Breastfeeding reduces maternal risk of developing breast cancer Breastfeeding protects mothers from ovarian cancer, urinary tract infections and may even help prevent osteoporosis Breastfeeding speeds mother’s metabolism and burns an extra 500 calories a day Benefits to Society – Compiled by Motherwear Reduces health care costs Reduces maternal absenteeism among working mothers Breastfeeding creates a healthier workforce for the future Benefits to the Environment – Ross Laboratories / David Mager Motherwear’s efforts to influence more moms to breastfeed their babies longer have a beneficial impact on our environment too. Because our clothing and support make breastfeeding easier, Motherwear custo mers nurse their babies much longer on average than the national norm (18 months vs. 2.3 months*). When we commissioned our first environmental audit in 1995, the auditor was amazed to find that the increased duration of breastfeeding by Motherwear customers conserved many more resources than were consumed by Motherwear’s entire business. *Ross Laboratories survey 1992 By nursing their babies longer, Motherwear customers saved the following valuable resources in 1998-above and beyond the resources used by Motherwear to market, manufacture and distribute our products and catalog: **3,506,870 lbs. of steel from formula cans 364,463 lbs. of paper 359,608 lbs. of HDPE from plastic milk containers 3,790,007 gallons of milk, requiring 65,271,668 lbs. of dairy feed to produce 861,192 gallons of oil (equivalent) for cow milk, formula production, transportation and refrigeration-which produces 19,373,385 lbs. of carbon dioxide. 4,892 acres of forest are required to absorb this amount of carbon dioxide.
Wow! Impressed indeed! I have a 6 month old with a dairy allergy, so I and he are on a strict non-dairy breastmilk diet—with a few homemade solids thrown in there.
I have several friends who breastfeed as well, but they don’t do it in public AT ALL. That part I never understood. Like you, I agree—its something my baby needs and he gets it when he needs it. Its completely natural and the stares are pretty funny. I DO use a cover, mostly b/c my mom made it for me and Noah (my son) has never had a problem with it, I think he likes the shade when we’re out and about in the daylight.
But I must say, you are an inspiration—theres no reason in this world why a mother should NOT breastfeed her baby in public.
Hi! great blog. I am a mom to 7 children, including 2 sets of twins. I have never used a cover to nurse. My youngest is 4 months old and 8 years younger than my last set of twins. I bring this up because, my oldest set of twins are in high school. when they were little and I had 6 under 6, I nursed anywhere and everywhere. I’ve never had anything said to me ever.
This go around though I have found myself willing to go to the car or away from the crowd if we are at a high school or middle school event. The reason being, I don’t want my position to fall back on my older children. “oh I remember your mom, she’s the one who had her boob out at homecoming”
That being said, since the baby has been born, I have had children from 8-14 in and out of my house. They all know, if they walk into my home, you may very well find me with my boob flapping in the breeze…………. and I am very proud to say, not one, not even the boys paid it any mind!
go get em momma!
You’re right, it’s a pain to nurse under cover, but I always did it to not offend anyone at first. But almost 11months down the line, I’ve realized it actually draws more attention, especially as my little girl fights with anything I try to put over her head. So I’m slowly finding my feet with NIP w/o a cover. And you know what? The more I do it, the easier it gets!
It’s fantastic to see other keen breast feeding mums. I am now on child number 3 who is 4 weeks old. The other 2 I fed till they were both 11 months old and plan to do the same this time, no cover and anywhere my baby needs to be fed. It is the most natural thing in the world!
You go girl! What a refreshing message. I’m on month 6 of nursing and am running the risk of being labeled a hippie (a death sentence for me since I’m a commerical banker). It’s so nice to hear from a down to earth breast feeder. You have just made it to my very short “favorites” list! :)
Brandy, thanks so much for reading! I am so happy I can help even a little you stand your ground. Your baby is so lucky to have you!
I love this I feed my son the same way if he is hungary I’m goin to feed him if no one likes it they shouldn’t look. I love supporters of breast fed babies. Im a working mom and I still nurse. People try to talk me out of it but I won’t back down my son deserves the best and ill give it to him natural. Thanks for all the helpful article’s.