Perspectives: 10 Parents on Why They Don't Worry About Breastfeeding in Public

Breastfeeding in public

Verywell / Christian Alzate

For our Perspectives series, we are interviewing diverse people from around the country on how they have overcome worry surrounding breastfeeding in public.

Whether breastfeeding comes easily to a parent or presents some challenges, the act of nursing a child in a public place can bring about anxiety. Perhaps there is a concern over modesty or bringing unwanted attention on oneself when the goal is simply to make sure your baby is fed.

These worries are natural and shared by many parents who would prefer to breastfeed privately, rather than out and about among strangers. The old idea that there is safety in numbers applies to helping parents find some comfort the next time they're tasked with having baby latch in a social setting.

We spoke with parents from across the country to find out what helped them feel at ease with public breastfeeding and got their advice for others who have yet to gain that confidence.

Jordan Nacalaban

Jordan Nacalaban

Verywell / Christian Alzate

Jordan Nacalban

  • Age: 39
  • Location: Spring, Texas
  • Occupation: Registered nurse turned blogger at The Motherly Heap
  • Kids' ages: 5, 11

When Do You Remember Becoming Comfortable with Breastfeeding in Public?

I breastfed my premature daughter for two and a half years. It was at one of my daughter’s frequent check-ups. She was born 12 weeks premature. We were at one of her early intervention sessions when she got hungry. I didn't bother to think and just breastfed her while I was talking to the therapist. The therapist was encouraging and supportive.

What Is Your Best Advice For Parents Who Feel Uneasy Breastfeeding in a Public Setting?

Your baby's needs come first. People will judge or stare, whether you cover up or not. Don’t let it get to you. Feed your baby anytime, anywhere. You don’t have to leave the room. You have as much right to be where you are and more so your baby.

Katie Clark

Katie Clarck

Verywell / Christian Alzate

Katie Clark

  • Age: 31
  • Partner: Forrest
  • Location: Littleton, Colorado
  • Occupation: Lactation consultant and blogger at The Breastfeeding Mama
  • Kids' ages: 2, 6, 9

When Do You Remember Becoming Comfortable with Breastfeeding in Public?

My experiences were different with each child. With my first, I actually didn't mind breastfeeding in public from the start. I got some weird looks, but as soon as I felt comfortable with him nursing, I figured he should be able to nurse whenever he wanted.

Part of my comfort level was because I was living in a place where there were a lot of babies, and I often saw other moms breastfeeding in public. It didn't feel taboo. 

With my second, it was totally different. My son had the hardest time latching, and it was even worse when I would try in public (especially if I tried to use a cover). I would usually end up in tears, which made me avoid nursing anywhere but at home.

It took a good six months for him to learn to latch well and not take 10 to 15 minutes to even try to latch. At that point, I was able to nurse in public without any issues. 

What Is Your Best Advice For Parents Who Feel Uneasy Breastfeeding in a Public Setting?

For moms who are wanting to gain more confidence, I recommend practicing at home first. Do what you feel most comfortable with. If you want to use a cover, that is okay! Practice using one at home with your baby so they can get used to it. But if you don't want to use a cover, that is okay, too.

Surrounding yourself with support from other moms can make a big difference. Join a breastfeeding support group and practice nursing in front of moms there. Try a small outing first, maybe just to the park or somewhere less crowded. 

Evelyn Rountree

Evelyn Rountree

Verywell / Christian Alzate

Evelyn Rountree

  • Age: 30
  • Partner: Billy
  • Location: Atlanta, GA
  • Occupation: Blogger at Love, Mamae 
  • Kids' ages: 1, 3 

When Do You Remember Becoming Comfortable with Breastfeeding in Public?

My breastfeeding journey started in 2018 when I gave birth to my firstborn daughter. My son came along 19 months later and I now tandem breastfeed both of them on demand.

I am from Brazil, a place where breastfeeding is seen as a normal thing. It is not common to see women covering up while nursing. It was a bit of a shock for me to see that happening here.

At the beginning, I would cover up until I realized that it upset my kids. I then realized that if anyone would be bothered by breastfeeding, it was not my fault. I was not being indecent or inconvenient. I was being a source of food, love, and comfort to the little people I love the most in the world.

What Is Your Best Advice For Parents Who Feel Uneasy Breastfeeding in a Public Setting?

I think my biggest advice is to focus on what is in front of you, which is your baby. To them, there is nothing more important at that moment than that act of love and nurture you are providing. When you focus on that, the outside world and its opinions gradually become more and more irrelevant. 

Alexandra Fung

Alexandra Fung

Verywell / Christian Alzate

Alexandra Fung

  • Age: 40
  • Location: Southern California
  • Occupation: co-founder of Upparent, a parent-to-parent recommendation-sharing site
  • Kids' Ages: 1, 4, 12, 14


When Do You Remember Becoming Comfortable with Breastfeeding in Public?

Having breastfed all four of my children until each was well over a year old, breastfeeding has been a major part of my life over the last 14 years. There was definitely a progression in feeling more and more comfortable breastfeeding in public.

As I came to embrace the significant and ever-present role that nursing was playing in my life, it simply became a normal part of my day, no matter where I was or what else I was doing. Of course, wearing clothing that made it easy to nurse discreetly was important to me, as was finding a quiet, more private space when that was possible.

It was the repetition and recognition of the important role that breastfeeding was playing in my and my baby's life that ultimately made it more comfortable.

What Is Your Best Advice For Parents Who Feel Uneasy Breastfeeding in a Public Setting?

As other mothers navigate this reality in their lives, I would simply say to keep close to mind your reasons for breastfeeding. Remember that so many of us around you have been where you are, and see it as the natural, life-giving gift that it is.

Nikki Osei-Barrett

Nikki Osei-Barrett

Amber Iris Photo / Verywell / Christian Alzate

Nikki Osei-Barrett

When Do You Remember Being Comfortable with Breastfeeding in Public?

Maturing in motherhood and social media definitely played a factor in me becoming comfortable with nursing in public. When I nursed back in 2011, I didn't have any examples of public breastfeeding, so I always covered up, nursed in the car, etc.

Fast forward to 2019, and Instagram is a thing. You now have access to resources, support groups, and visual representation. I finally felt comfortable and confident enough to nurse in public after being exposed to women that nursed freely. I pulled my boobs out and nursed freely everywhere I went, and I dared someone to say something to me. 

What Is Your Best Advice For Parents Who Feel Uneasy Breastfeeding in a Public Setting?

My advice would be to read up on laws, and understand you have the right to feed your baby in public! Nobody's opinion matters but yours and your baby's. You wouldn't want to eat with a sheet over your head in the peak of summer, right? Neither does your baby.

Cyana Riley

Cyana Riley

Verywell / Christian Alzate

Cyana Riley

  • Age: 38
  • Partner: Doug
  • Location: Gambrills, MD
  • Occupation: Stay-at-home mom, author of Not So Perfect, and co-author of Boobies Go Bye-Bye: A Weaning Story
  • Kids' Ages: 2, 5 

When Do You Remember Becoming Comfortable with Breastfeeding in Public?

I always felt comfortable breastfeeding in public because the needs of my children were more important to me than any onlookers. However, with my first child, I always felt the need to cover up completely by draping a cloth or cover over his head.

After having my second child, I was way less concerned with covering up. I became more confident in the fact that breastfeeding is normal and I shouldn’t have to cover my baby’s head in 80-degree temperatures just to make other people feel comfortable. 

What Is Your Best Advice For Parents Who Feel Uneasy Breastfeeding in a Public Setting?

My advice would be to think about what your child needs in that moment and block all other distractions. People may look or stare, but know that you are not doing anything abnormal. If someone has an issue with you breastfeeding your child in public, that is their problem and not yours.

Kristjana Hillberg

Kristjana Hillbert

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Kristjana Hillberg

  • Age: 31
  • Partner: Kurt
  • Location: Rapid City, SD
  • Occupation: PR Manager 
  • Kids' ages: 1, 3, 9

When Do You Remember Being Comfortable with Breastfeeding in Public?

I was 22 when I had my first baby. I grew up in a conservative, religious household. I constantly heard the message that any time a woman wore something that in any way exposed her body, it could put unwanted thoughts into a man's head and that was the woman's fault. I was taught modesty at all times and to remain covered.

In my first year of breastfeeding, I felt alone and secluded. Each time my baby needed to eat, I would leave the room and find an empty area, whether that was in the bathroom, a guest bedroom, a hot car, or in the garage. You name it, I nursed there. I felt that it was my job to "cover up" and think about how I was making others feel

When I had my second baby, I nursed everywhere! I had to work through the worry that others were judging me, but by the time my third came along, those thoughts no longer remained. The need to feed my child always came first, no matter where we were, who was around, or what I was wearing.

What Is Your Best Advice For Parents Who Feel Uneasy Breastfeeding in a Public Setting?

It is totally mindset. Uncover why you might be feeling uneasy. Every woman is different. If it makes you feel comfortable to have a lightweight cover, use one! If you invest in nursing tanks and don't wear bras while breastfeeding, that works, too! It is about making it comfortable for you, whatever that looks and feels like. Take small steps in the direction you would like to be. Surround yourself with other mamas who empower that same message. 

Chiara Gomiero

Chiara Gomiero

Verywell / Christian Alzate

Chiara Gomiero

  • Age: 36
  • Kids' ages: 4 months, 6

When Do You Remember Being Comfortable with Breastfeeding in Public?

With my first child, I wasn’t always comfortable breastfeeding in public. It was totally a new experience for me and I recall a mixture of various feelings: insecurity, fear of judgment, lack of privacy, and even a little bit of shame. 

I remember discussing these feelings with other moms to get some feedback and guidance. It really helped me a lot as I have realized that those feelings were pretty common and there was nothing to be worried about. What made it click was learning that breastfeeding has benefits for not only the child but the mother, too. I progressively overcame those fears and now with my second newborn I can say I am more at ease when it comes to breastfeeding in public.

What Is Your Best Advice For Parents Who Feel Uneasy Breastfeeding in a Public Setting?

For me it was very important to know that I was not alone and to put things in perspective. My best advice to you would be to share your experience with people that you trust and who are in a similar situation. It will help you feel understood and you can compare your situation with other relevant experiences.

Lisa Carnett

Lisa Carnett

Verywell / Christian Alzate

Lisa Carnett

  • Age: 27
  • Partner: William
  • Location: Murfreesboro, TN
  • Occupation: Freelance writer and blogger
  • Kid's age: 5 months

When Do You Remember Being Comfortable with Breastfeeding in Public?

I was very uncomfortable breastfeeding in public when I first had my son. However, that all changed the first time I had to take him on an airplane. I quickly realized that my fellow passengers would much rather see my boob than listen to my baby scream the whole flight. The cover was hot and constricting, my son constantly unlatched so that he could look around the plane, and my nipple was out. At that moment, I realized that if somebody did try to say something to me, I would probably squirt them with my booby milk. 

What Is Your Best Advice For Parents Who Feel Uneasy Breastfeeding in a Public Setting?

You are legally allowed to nurse your baby in public in any U.S. state. Using a cover is okay. Not using a cover is okay. You are feeding a child and that is your right. But I will let you in on a little secret: Most people don't care. Hundreds of people have walked by me feeding my baby and never gave me a second look. Sometimes older women will marvel at how cute my son is while he is nursing from my breast. You have more friends than enemies, I promise. 

Chelsea Bagley

Chelsea Bagley

Verywell / Christian Alzate

Chelsea Bagley

  • Age: 29
  • Location: Texas
  • Occupation: Founder of Nesting Naturally
  • Kids’ ages: 3 months, 3, 5

When Do You Remember Being Comfortable with Breastfeeding in Public?

When I had my first child I was hesitant about breastfeeding in public. I would sit in the car when we were out and I always made sure I was completely covered (even in the Texas heat). After a couple of months, when I got used to breastfeeding in general, I became more open to breastfeeding in public.

When my daughter was about 3 months old, we were in Georgia (where I am originally from) and we went out to eat. I nursed her (covered) at the table. The waitress was so excited to see me nursing. She told me that she was afraid to nurse in public, fearing that people would judge her or make bad comments. She didn’t see women nursing in public very often, and seeing me feed my baby gave her the confidence she needed to do it, too.

I was completely empowered by that. From that point forward, I was more than happy to breastfeed in public, hoping that I might give another mom that confidence.

What Is Your Best Advice For Parents Who Feel Uneasy Breastfeeding in a Public Setting?

To a mom who is not comfortable breastfeeding in public but wants to be, I would simply tell her to do it more often. Start out covering up and wearing easy nursing tanks, then you will slowly become more and more comfortable with nursing. You will get better at it as you go, and you won’t feel as exposed.

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  1. National Conference of State Legislatures. Breastfeeding state laws. Published August 26, 2021.