Breastfeeding in public. Everyone has an opinion on this and very few opinions are helpful. Most are downright rude. I don't ask permission to nurse in public, but I wasn't always so open.
I firmly believe that every woman should nurse in public where she is comfortable and however she prefers. It can be a private room with a cover or right where she is without a cover, or anything in between. Sometimes (but not always) new moms need the quiet of a private room so they can take their time. There's much less fumbling when a mom gets more practice.
I don't ask permission to nurse in public or in private. However, I have thrown out a "hey, I'm going to nurse E right here" depending on who is around. It makes some people uncomfortable and they should have the opportunity to leave the room if they want. Yes, that's right. They can leave the room. I stay.
Our first few times NIP were really awkward. I was fumbling with a cover, a hungry newborn's tiny mouth, and my gigantic (and usually leaking) breast. I finally found a cover that allowed me to look down without using my hands, which freed up my hands to maneuver my hungry baby's mouth on my nipple.
E is now 19 months old and eats solids almost all the time. We rarely nurse in public anymore. When he was little, I would nurse whenever and wherever he was hungry. It wasn't about making a statement or anything like that. I was fulfilling my child's most basic need: he was hungry and I was the food.
If you're anxious about nursing in public for the first time, here are a few tips:
Practice. Get comfortable with the nursing cover or blanket and the bras or tops you wear before you go out for the first time. The first time I NIP uncovered, I was having a hard time pulling my brand new nursing top down to where I needed it. I wish I had nursed in it before doing it out of the house. It'll make the first time go a lot smoother.
Do a trial run at a "safe" place. Find a moms breastfeeding group or a La Leche Group meeting and nurse your baby there. You'll be surrounded by other nursing and pro-breastfeeding women. It will boost your confidence with nursing in public and breastfeeding as well. No one will bat an eye if they see your nipple. Heck, they may even have some great advice to give you.
Know what the law says. Breastfeeding is protected in most of the US. Many states say that a mother can breastfeed anywhere she is legally allowed to be. Several states even have laws that say public breastfeeding is exempt from public indecency! Despite the laws, there have been several incidents of nursing moms being told to stop nursing in the past year. Chances are that no one will bully or ridicule you, but you never know. All you need is one sales clerk on a power trip. It couldn't hurt to print out the laws and slip them into your purse or diaper bags. Get your state's law at BreastfeedingLaw.com or the National Conference of State Legislature's site.
Would you ask permission to nurse in public?