Monday, September 24, 2007

NIP tips

I decided to pull all my nursing-in-public (NIP) advice into one post that I can add to as I think of or experience more ways to breastfeed confidently and discreetly while out and about.

Please feel free to post any of your own suggestions and tips in the comments section!

I do at some point want to explore the whole subject of the value or lack thereof of breastfeeding discreetly and the whole general issue of breastfeeding in public, but that will have to wait for another day. If you do want to comment on those topics, I'll transfer them when I get a post up about that specifically.

Anyway, here's the repeat tip from the last post:
Here's my awesome tip for nursing mothers (and, yes, it's very basic, but it will save you a bundle on nursing clothes if you obey me): Wear your maternity tank tops (extra long to cover that postpartum tummy -- oofa -- I'm still not over the saaaad changes there, and extra room in the chest for those va-va-voom postpartum boobies -- Old Navy ones are da bomb) and then wear something else on top. There, that's it. When you want to nurse, get your baby mostly in position on your lap. Unclasp your nursing bra cup (I use Target nursing bras, FYI -- they're not big enough for me, but they're cheap unlike every nursing bra my size, so what are you gonna do), pull up your top shirt to just above your nipple, and pull down your tank top to just below. Use your baby's head to shield this action. Get your baby latched on, and then adjust your shirts to cover as much breast tissue as possible without getting in the way of the baby's mouth (or annoying the baby). Use the arm near the feeding boob to help keep the side boobage covered. Voila! Instant breastfeeding modesty. I swear it looks just like you're holding a sleeping baby with this method. Except for the noisy slurps emanating from your boobal region.

I will add that you can reverse the under-/overshirts as well. That is, if you're wearing a low-cut shirt on top and a higher-cut shirt underneath (this often happens for me in the colder months, when I layer a short-sleeve shirt over a higher-cut long-sleeve one), you can pull up the higher-cut undershirt and pull down the lower-cut overshirt. (Be aware that this can stretch out whatever shirt you're pulling down, but if you're like me and shop at Target [see above], you can afford to buy new shirts after this is all over....) I find this method functions just as well, although (1) you do have to search a little down your overshirt to find the bottom hem of your undershirt to pull it up and (2) it's maybe less discreet than the first method, because it shows off more that you're doing some weird thing with your shirts, particularly if they're in contrasting colors. People can see your undershirt up above your breasts and your overshirt below on one side, so it's a little more obvious. But, still, it hides boob, so that part works just as well.

A fall/winter bonus: As we head into the cooler seasons, I'm finding myself wearing overlayers such as a button-down shirt (unbuttoned) or a fitted jacket (unbuttoned), and I love how the looseness of those on the sides helps conceal the side boob. You can also pull any extra fabric closer in to hide top boobage or cut down on cleavage showing.

I know some women swear by wearing button-down shirts (either over an undershirt or alone) and then unbuttoning where they need to. Maybe it's my sluttiness or my milk-increased bosom, but I can't get any of my button-down shirts to stay buttoned over my chest. So when I try this method, I feel very bare up top -- the whole huuuuuge top of my size-H-cup boob is exposed to the world, because I can't get my button-down overshirt to stay closed over the top to hide it. (It's when I do this that I realize each boob is bigger than my baby's -- quite large -- head.) This might work better for smaller-chested girls or people who buy shirts that fit them.

I know one cheap nursing-clothing idea is to cut holes in undershirts yourself instead of buying the specially pre-cut kind. If you're wearing a low-cut undershirt, this is an unnecessary step, but if you have high-cut ones that you don't mind sacrificing to the cause, then clip away. I would think one middle vertical cut would work well (unless you're tandem nursing), because then your boobs wouldn't spill out except when you specifically pulled the opening to one side or the other. You might have to sew the seam to prevent fraying depending on the fabric. I think t-shirt jersey materials will resist fraying, but I could be wrong....

Obviously, if you're a blanket or cover-up type of girl, then there are various options there. I don't much like those options for me personally, but if that helps women continue to breastfeed and feed their babies on cue, then more power to Bébé au Lait.

I know if you have a sling or other soft carrier that there are various ways to breastfeed discreetly inside it or by using part of the carrier (such as a ring sling's tail) to cover up. I have yet to master the art of breastfeeding while babywearing, which is a post for another day, but I would looove any advice on doing so.

[UPDATED January 18, 2010:] I said I'd post back with any new tips, and didn't really have anything to add until now. I just wanted to say that, ever since Mikko became a toddler, we've mostly done the technique of pulling down my shirt from the top. I am definitely more casual about nursing, but I don't want to expose him to any negativity, considering he's a breastfed toddler, so I still try to be discreet. But, Mikko seriously doesn't want me to nurse him any other way than having my breast come out the top of my shirt now, and he will argue and cause a scene if I try to nurse from below or cover up too much, and I figure a screeching, writhing toddler blows the whole idea of being discreet! So...what we do now is, I pull the neckline of my (stretchy) top down below my areola. I then use a hand to cover some of the wide expanse of very white skin that shows above and to the side. I can't do this too near his mouth, or he pushes it away. In the winter, as now, I usually am wearing a scarf when we're out so I can drape my scarf casually over the exposed skin as well. That's all!

Like I said, post away in the comments section with any strategies that have worked for you to feel secure breastfeeding in public.


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