Five Unusual Public Places Where I Nursed … And Felt Good Doing It

Disclosure :: World Breastfeeding Week is recognized August 1 – 7, 2015. This year, World Breastfeeding Weekcalls for concerted global action to support women to combine breastfeeding and work. Whether a woman is working in the formal, non-formal or home setting, it is necessary that she is empowered in claiming her and her baby’s right to breastfeed. Our World Breastfeeding Week series is sponsored by Touro Infirmary.

When I gave birth, I knew I would breastfeed. It seemed natural; I also saw my own mother breastfeed my younger siblings, and I wanted that connection to my child. I gave it a try, and it turned out that I loved it. It wasn’t always easy though. My daughter and I had a couple of rough months where my supply did not match her ravenous hunger, and I had to nurse her very frequently in order to compensate for my low supply. I did try formula to supplement, but my little peanut was allergic to milk protein and could not drink the regular formula; she hated the other kinds. Being at home, I had the luxury of being able to nurse often and whenever she needed it, so I stuck with it.

One issue remained: nursing in public.

Nursing statueIf you nursed your baby, maybe you had no problem pulling out the boob at the mall or so. Heck, maybe you were one of these moms who was actively engaged to promote nursing in public, because it’s our right to feed our babies if they’re hungry. Well, I just could not. I was just not comfortable to expose myself. I did have to get out of the house though, and with nursing sessions still less than two hours apart by the time my baby was five months old, I chose to get over it. At first, I would go back to my car and nurse there, or just plan my life around nursing. That did not give me much time to do … well, anything. So, I practiced in front of a mirror to make sure that I did not look ridiculous (and I sure did when I first tried! I was hot and red with hair all over my face.) One of my friends gave me a nursing cover. It was yellow with blue and purple flowers.I looked like a lighthouse, beaming for attention. So, I dropped it. And little by little, I felt more and more comfortable nursing out in the open. I chose strapless bras for comfort and convenience, would read a book while nursing, and pick quiet spots.

When my daughter weaned at fifteen months old, I had nursed in the most random places, and it felt great. I felt no shame and nursed quietly without getting attention. If you are in my situation right now and do not feel particularly at ease with nursing in public, please know that someone (me!) nursed…

In the courtroom of my naturalization ceremony

Just after taking the oath, while listening to the judge talk about education in the United States. Next to me was my husband, and on the other side, an Egyptian family celebrating their long wait for the father to become an American citizen. The room was packed and the air smelled like victory. Officers saw me while I nursed and smiled at me. The feeling was unbelievable.

In the waiting line of immigration at the Boston airport

Standing up. A lady from immigration offered me a chair. People let me pass in front of them. No judgment, just understanding.

In a flight over the country

Not only did the older gentleman next to me look away the whole time to make me comfortable; he even offered his lap when I found out that there was no changing table in the plane and kept my daughter entertained while I cleaned her. I wish I could find him to thank him again.

At the gardening store

On a rocking chair for sale. It’s not so unusual, but it was for me because the store was filled with men and older couples. My daughter screamed for a couple of minutes because I was not as ready as I wished, and my shirt was too tight to pull. We were the center of attention for quite a while, and I must have looked so embarrassed. An older lady said to me: “Don’t worry dear; you’re doing great. I nursed my son and looked a lot worse.” It changed everything. A wave of relief washed away my worries.

At a campground between two rounds of ping-pong

In France, on the Atlantic coast, in a small town called Pornic. We spent two weeks there with my family and camped among people from all over Europe. The camp was full and people passed in front of our spot multiple times a day. I received lots of smiles and even a free plate of pancakes to “give me energy” from the British couple just in front of us.

All this to say that if you are starting to nurse, or are pregnant and considering to nurse, but feel unsure about nursing in public, you’ll make it. We mostly hear about the negative reactions to women breastfeeding in public, and it’s too bad because there are also a lot of supportive people who will not hesitate to make you feel good. I am currently pregnant with my second baby and may have to do a couple of rounds of “practice” with my cherished mirror, but I do know that I will be out nursing as soon as I can.

If you have nursed in public, what are the most unusual places where you nursed? How was your experience?



  1. So while it may not seem like an unusual place, the most awkward place for me was in the sales office of a car dealership while trying to buy a car. I explained to the guy that we needed to speed up the process cause my baby was getting hungry. And he openly welcomed me to feed him there as I signed papers, etc. however, it was clear by the expression on his face that he never imagined I’d be “breast” feeding my baby. I’m certain his face was far more red than mine. 😉

  2. Ashley,

    When baby is hungry…. baby is hungry! It’s nice to read that the car salesman was open enough to suggest that you could feed at the dealership (aka men’s Mecca!!!)

    Thanks for sharing!


  3. Marie, this almost brought tears to my eyes. I was determined to nurse in public from the beginning, and expected to constantly be standing up for myself. After 19 months, I’m still shocked that I’ve never had to defend my choices to strangers, and that I’ve been applauded, not booed. We’ve nursed on buses, planes, trains. We’ve nursed on beaches, hiking trails, in malls, in restaurants, and in the Met. We’ve nursed on stoops, on a ferris wheel, and while watching an ox pulling competition. It is the quick smile and nod from strangers, the word from a mother telling me good job, or the approving glance that has pleasantly surprised me. Thanks for posting!

  4. These are great! When my son was 3 months old, I nursed him on the neutral ground during Mardi Gras parades…somehow it was both the strangest and the most natural thing in the world. I wasn’t going to let a hungry baby disrupt our parade watching! We got lots of supportive nods and smiles. Thanks for sharing – stories like yours are helping me learn to feel more comfortable feeding baby when he’s hungry, no matter where we are!

    • Rebecca,

      My second daughter will be born in October, and I bet I’ll nurse at some point during Mardi-Gras. I can only imagine how eerie it must feel! Thanks for sharing your story, and thanks for reading me!


  5. I nursed my oldest standing in the crowd during the Macy’s day parade when she was about 6 months old. Sadly, we were living a small Midwestern town at that time, and I definitely ended up feeling more comfortable there than I did most public places in our temporary Midwestern”home.”

    • Charlotte,

      Is there anything/anybody which made you feel uncomfortable back home? I am curious. Is it because it was overall “less crowded” than during the Parade? Did you experience negative reactions? (I certainly hope not)

      Thanks for sharing your story (STANDING? Wow!!!!). And thanks for reading!

      Marie H.

      • Marie,
        It was just a really small town, and I was a southern outsider for one. And I think just small town mindset (not all I’m sure). I just often got non approving looks if I nursed in public. We moved back down here days before I found out I was pregnant with my second and I never got a disapproving look. I’m hoping the same will be true after baby 3 is born in October!

  6. Like you, I never felt comfortable nursing in public. We recently took a trip to NOLA and baby got hungry while we were walking around Jackson Square. The car was too far away and it was way too hot outside. I ended up feeding him at St. Louis Cathedral during Mass! I even got a thumbs up from a man sitting further down on the sane pew!

    • Laura,

      A church was a safe haven for hundreds of years… whether it was from the cold, or from outside threats, or simply for curious onlookers. I’m thrilled to read that you nursed at Saint Louis Cathedral (and during Mass!). This is right. This feels right. The place is beautiful, and what a memory to share with your baby!

      Thanks for the comment!

      Marie H.

  7. In my son’s ten weeks of life, we’ve nursed in a synagogue, in a mosque, on a beach, in our financial planner’s office, in front of six tween boys and in a conference with about ten people when I stopped in to show off the baby at work, along with plenty of less remarkable places (parks, restaurants, etc.).

    I usually use a cover because I have large breasts, but have foregone it in less crowded places in the July heat. My hand worked well to cover what I didn’t want exposed and neither of us ended up with heat stroke!


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