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Why I (Do and Don't) Whip it Out

I remember, when Julia was around three months old, eating dinner at a pizzeria. We got there early, before most of the Italians showed up (per usual), and were enjoying our meal. Julia was was sleeping in her car seat on the floor next to us. It wasn’t often that we ate out, but we liked this place and wanted to eat there more often before we left.

As the place started filling up, Julia started stirring. I knew what time it was, so I started preparing myself. I pushed my pizza aside, moved the fork and knife away, put my hair in a pony tail, grabbed my nursing cover, pulled up my shirt and undid the clasp to my nursing tank top. When I was ready, my husband got her out of her seat and “airplaned” her across the table and over to me. From there, Julia and I started our nursing tango, trying to find a comfortable position for both of us while wrestling with the cover.

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Not at the pizzeria, obviously. Ha…look at the teeny tiny foot peeking out under the cover!

Oh, that cover. She hated the cover; shoot, I hated the cover, but we used it, because I wanted to be decent, especially when out in public. We attempted to nurse in the pizzeria that night, but I could just tell she was frustrated, which started making me frustrated. And nursing while both mama and baby are stressed is practically impossible. She kept tugging at the cover and attempted to fling it off of her, which only resulted in making her more mad since she was hungry and annoyed with the stupid thing distracting her from food. My little girl was getting hangry.

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Not getting anywhere, we took a break and my husband held her while I took a swig of wine.

“You know,” he told me as he calmed her down by bouncing her on his leg, “There’s an Italian woman over there feeding her baby without a cover or anything.”

I glanced over to the corner where he was pointing and saw what he was talking about. The baby, about the same age, looked so calm and relaxed while eating. And the mom was eating too! She wasn’t messing with a cover, wasn’t frantically looking around to see who was watching her, instead, she was simply feeding her baby.

That was the moment when I decided to ditch the cover. I literally threw in the towel right then and there.

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With a baby, unless you stay home all the time, chances are, you’ll be out somewhere when it’s time for them to eat, because they eat all the time.
Because of that, I’ve fed Julia everywhere: on a plane, in a train, in
the car, at a truck stop, at a baseball game, inside a pizzeria, in a
mall, at the zoo, on the couch, on a chair, on the floor, in a bathtub, on the beach, in countless restaurants, in six countries, dozens of
states, and several homes.

The list of where I’ve fed my
daughter could go on and on, but one thing remains the same wherever I am:
I’m discreet and respectful, or at least I try to be. I don’t whip out my boob and let it hang out there just
because the law is on my side. I don’t ask permission to feed her, because I don’t make a big deal about it. In fact, it’s just the opposite. I have a nursing tank top and
usually a shirt over it to cover the rest of my exposed skin. If we’re at a restaurant, I ask for a seat closest to a wall or facing away from people; if I’m at a function or event, I excuse myself and find a place a little more intimate for both of us. Just because I can nurse her wherever I want doesn’t mean she’ll eat anywhere—she’s easily distracted, so sometimes quiet is much, much better for both of us.

I’d be lying if I said every nursing session was grand and freeing; it actually took some getting used to. I was uncomfortable and nervous at first to nurse without a cover since I thought everyone was staring at me, and because of that, I couldn’t relax. Babies feed off of the mom’s energy, and since I was stressed, Julia was stressed. I had to calm down and only focus on my baby. Once I did that, things got much better. She got less squirmy and wiggly and allowed me to nurse her.

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So why am I talking about this? Because I’m tired of seeing breastfeeding in the news. Feeding your baby shouldn’t be an issue, so don’t make it one! Feed her (or him) and be decent about the whole thing. Yes, breastfeeding is natural, but there’s no reason why you should literally whip it out, let it hang there, and let everyone around you see you topless. I completely understand that stuff happens (i.e. your baby wiggles and unlatches with notice), but that doesn’t mean your breast will be uncovered for a long period of time; get that baby back on there or move on with your day!

In the end, just feed your baby. If you have to/want to use a cover, then do it. If you want to do it au naturale, then be decent about it. Want to feed your baby formula? Do it! Just do what works for you and don’t make a big deal about it. This is what works for us, so we’re doing it. I only wish I took more pictures…

*read about our breastfeeding journey here.
*linking up with baby talk

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20 Comments

  1. As a woman who has never had a child I sometimes feel it is not my place to comment on issues like this but I have to say that I love this post. I love your honesty and your respect for others. I mean I do not want to see my own breasts while eating so chances are I do not want to see a strangers but if the mother takes the time to be respectful of those around her I do not get angry or whatever that she might have a slip but I do feel annoyed when it seems to be done for the sake of shock, which seems actually not only disrespectful to the people around but also to the child feeding.

  2. Seriously. This! I am constantly seeing pro-breastfeeding posts and all I can think is "I had 3 kids I fed until they were 9-15 months. And I fed them whenever, wherever I needed to. And no one ever cared!"
    I mean, I didn't whip it out and sit there topless hoping someone would try and say something. I was discrete, but I wasn't crazy about it. I didn't always use a cover, it depended on where we were and how comfortable I felt. But I nursed in church, in stores, in the mall, in restaurants…. I was never told to cover up or go to a bathroom. That's over 3 years of breastfeeding starting 11 years ago, without incident.
    Glad you found your happy nursing place!

  3. It kills me how crazy people are about this whole topic. Breastfeeding is NATURAL. It's a normal thing for humans to do. You should be able to feed your child anywhere. I always use my cover when feeding Annika but it's more because if she doesn't have it – she is all over the place, when the cover is over her it gives her something to focus on lol. I too, wish I had more pictures.

  4. Great Post. I bottle fed mine but think breast feeding is a beautiful, natural thing to do but there are some that are not modest about it. Like in one of the comments above, some do it for the sake of shock. Women need to be modest about whipping there breast out. There are a lot of curious children and perverts out there. Respect yourself and the baby.

  5. I wish this wasn't such an issue. Who cares how you feed your baby! A lot of hardcore breastfeeding moms make is so hard for people who just want to nurse discretely. As natural as breastfeeding is, having women with huge neon signs that say "OH YES, THAT'S MY BOOB AND I'M FEEDING MY BABY, WHATCHA GONNA DO ABOUT IT??" isn't helping anything. It's making us use nursing covers that baby doesn't like just so we don't "cause a stir." Sigh. I just wish it was a non-issue.

  6. Like stated above, as someone without children I always feel awkward commenting on the issue. I'm all for doing what works for you and I love this post. I have friends I grew up with who are BIG into BFing and I swear they'd sit around topless all day, on the off chance their 3 year old wants some milk, daring someone to tell them they can't. The extremists ruin it for everyone, I think. I have no issue with the women who you'd barely even knew were feeding their babies! To make a big deal out of it though, it makes me want to scream :/

  7. If only we all agreed on what was "decent" 😉 I think there are a lot fewer in-your-face nursers than we think. I feed my babies whenever, wherever, and worry more about feeding them than if someone thinks I'm being indecent. That being said – I'm tiny-chested even when nursing, so baby's head pretty much blocks all views 😉 Good post, though. I just don't like to put the "decent" caveat on there most of the time, because we all have different levels — if that makes sense.

  8. AMEN!

    I wrote a very similar post last week, comparing my nervousness with nursing my first child in public with my "I don't give a damn" attitude with my second. I feel like I've been living in a Dr. Seuss book titled "Oh the Places You'll Nurse!"

    I suspect a lot of people feel like nursing in public is an affront to them because they never did it. As if nursing mothers are saying "Look what I can do! I am the best mother in the world because I don't bottle feed." It's more about the people who are offended than the people doing the "offending". I laugh because the biggest reason I nurse is because it's free!

  9. I do not have one single picture of me breastfeeding, and at this point it's unlikely to happen. I'm so sad about this. Porter hated covers too and I never used them. I do the two shirt deal with a looser shirt on stop and a tight tank under so none of my skin is sticking out. But, in public anymore, he's impossible to nurse. He's on and off and on and off and trying to roll over and flip and sit and spin and…it just doesn't happen.

    I really wish I had pictures 🙁

  10. AMEN!!!
    With our first, I used a nursing cape most of the time out in public, but to be honest, it was such a pain! She was easy going, but I just found it such a hassle. I tried to use one with our second, and after a few failed attempts where he kicked or pulled the cover off anyways, I gave up. Like you, I always wore a tank top under my shirts, so with layers, I was always covered up. Most people couldn't tell what I was even doing, other than holding and snuggling my baby. And the ones that could tell, simply smiled and nodded — knowing it was a non-issue because I was discreet. Its been almost a year since I weaned my youngest … and just reading this, makes me miss it so much! Call me crazy!

  11. Amen! Even not being a mom, I am constantly confused why breastfeeding, is such a hot button issue. Great post. <3

  12. Love this post!! People should have freedom to breastfeed. We didn't mess much with a cover, and with the next baby I definitely won't at all.

  13. I bought a nursing scarf in preparation for baby because I know it will take ME some getting used to BFing in public and I'll feel more comfortable at least initially with a cover. With that being said, I bought a scarf because I can still wear it when I'm ready to go sans cover. 🙂 Love this post!

  14. This pretty much sums up how I feel about the whole thing, too. I only used a cover the first couple months when out, and only because I was still trying to figure it all out. Once we got the hang of it and I was an expert at pulling up, snapping down, and getting him to latch on, we ditched the cover. As long as I wear a nursing tank, I can pull my shirt up, the tank and bra down, and nurse without being exposed. I see some women literally show it all in the process, or pull it out of the top of their shirt, and I could never do that. I think it depends on the size of your breasts, too. Some smaller women can pull it down and you don't really see anything. With me, if I pulled it out of the top of my shirt, you'd literally see ALL BOOB. haha

  15. So I'm not a mother so I do feel awkward at times commenting on these kinds of pots but I gotta I say, I LOVE this post.

    "Yes, breastfeeding is natural, but there's no reason why you should literally whip it out, let it hang there, and let everyone around you see you topless. " <- This, this oh so much this. I'm all for breastfeeding but I can't personally image just letting it all hang out there haha

  16. We've done the cover thing and the scarf thing. I prefer the scarf because it lets me come out the top of my shirt every so slightly. Honestly, it has nothing to do with anyone else >>I<< don't like showing that much skin.. ever. I don't even like low cut shirts. If you want to run around waving your nipple around, well, hmm, that's a whole different story. I just don't enjoy being that exposed. I wouldn't do it if I wasn't feeding him, why would I do it if I was? I just don't like being stared at, regardless of the situation. I don't know. I'm all about FEED THE BABIES but seriously, this is a non-issue. If people would stop staring at you and being super nosey when you're trying to do something (anything, I swear), it wouldn't be a big deal. It's not like you're waving your nipple in their face while they're eating. Don't look. I haven't met a woman yet who undresses to feed her child. It's not a big deal and people need to mind their own business.

  17. I LOVE THIS POST. When I was pregnant I swore up and down I would never nurse in public without a cover. I tried to nurse several times with a cover, and each time my daughter screamed and drew attention and refused to nurse. And who can blame her? I don’t want to eat under a blanket tent either. Last week I was at a restaurant with my mom and had to nurse, and I just did it. Without the cover. I felt so much more relaxed and it went so much smoother. Never messing with the cover again.

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