Lactation requires regular extraction of your breast milk. The timing of which gives no consideration to your environment.
Either your baby needs to be fed, or you need to pump to relieve the pressure. This means being ready for action at all times no matter where you are.
Most of us are not all that comfortable whipping the boobs out in public (or at work?!). Even if we are, not everyone around us will be accepting of it.
In consideration of our own self-consciousness, and out of respect for others, having a nursing cover ready to go will provide at least some privacy at all times.
We will guide you through the key features of a good nursing cover, and what would be most suitable for both feeding and pumping.
When Public Breastfeeding is Unavoidable
We all wish we could nurse in the comfort of our own homes. Away from prying eyes, where we can just let it all hang out. There we can have our comfy chair, our favorite TV show, our ideal temperature, and our stocked fridge.
The reality is that this is just not always possible. Whether you are pumping, breastfeeding, or a combination of both. There will be times when duty calls (about every 2 hours, actually).
You hear those hungry cries or you feel the pressure building up in your chest, and you start scouring the area for a place to park yourself.
Feeding in public has become a controversial and complex issue. The purpose of this post is to enable everyone to choose a cover that works for them, if they wish to cover up.
Check out the link below if you would like more information on this issue specifically:
Feeling Comfortable in Nursing Public
There is no question that nursing in public is uncomfortable for some. Not having all the amenities available to you out and about that you do at home can make it physically uncomfortable, and the fact that there are other people around makes it conditionally uncomfortable.
With the stigma that exists today about public nursing, you are likely to get a lot of looks.
These typically fall into three categories:
- The supportive look (from other nursing mothers)
- The disgusted look (from those who view it as public indecency)
- The perverted look (rare, but it happens)
These looks are enough to make you feel uneasy, but, honestly, you may not even notice them.
For me, I was more self-conscious about making sure I was covered that I barely glanced up to see if people were looking at me.
The best thing you can do for yourself and for others is to use a nursing cover when you pump or breastfeed in public. This helps to eliminate accidental “flashing” and helps you to feel more comfortable and covered.
There are many covers on the market today, so how do you choose?
What to Look for in a Nursing Cover
If you are as lucky as I was to have your baby in the summer months, you are going to be nursing in the heat quite often. Even in a cool room, you and your baby will be putting off enough heat to cause some sweating under your nursing cover.
You will want to select a cover that is lightweight, and is made from breathable material. This will keep you and your baby cool during feeding time.
It is also safer for your little one as heavy fabrics can be suffocation hazards.
Using a nursing cover means you are looking to be modest and covered. You do not want to risk accidental exposure, embarrassing yourself and shocking onlookers.
You are going to want to look for a wide apron that keeps you covered.
Some tops have 360° coverage, keeping both your front and back covered, which is key when you are lifting your shirt to nurse.
If you opt for the classic cape style, choose one that is wide and long, with an adjustable neck strap, which can accommodate your growing baby’s size.
For safety reasons it is critical that your baby is in full view at all times. Your baby will be nestled in close and there is a risk of asphyxiation if the airways are not kept clear at all times.
Any large apron should have a wired neckline that should ensure there is a self supporting viewing window when the cover is in place. This will ensure your hands will remain mostly free to support your baby.
Being able to maintain eye contact with your baby will also help them remain comfortable and settled. This reduces any additional stressors that could interrupt the feeding session.
Burp Cloths & Pockets
The extra little conveniences can help reduce the load in your hand bag or diaper bag on a day out. A number of the covers we looked at included a small piece of burp cloth fabric sewn into the corner of the apron area.
This allows you to clean up your baby for any small spills quickly and easily.
Having a pocket built into the cover also allows for easy access to a pacifier or anything else you need to temporarily put aside.
Preparing for an outing with your baby is quite the ordeal. You have a pile of things to pack into your diaper bag that now, suddenly, seems so small.
If you struggled with jigsaw puzzles before, you will likely become a master by the time your baby outgrows her diaper bag.
Finding a nursing cover that can pack easily takes one more thing off your mind. There are many that fold up nice and small into a pouch or bag that is included with your purchase, taking up almost no space in your already full diaper bag.
Nursing covers are intended for mealtime, and mealtime is messy.
You are guaranteed to either get something on the outside, like your own food or drink, or to have your milk spray on the inside. On top of that, you are looking at spit up and other bodily fluids from your baby.
Most nursing covers are machine washable, which makes them very easy to maintain.
Choosing one that it durable will ensure it lasts multiple washes, keeping its shape and size (no shrinking), and finding one that can be machine dried saves you time and headaches.
Best Nursing Covers for Breastfeeding
The Bebe au Lait nursing cape have been around for nearly 15 years and have been endorsed by a number of celebrities as their cover of choice.
It is made from 100% premium cotton, is large in size (36-inches wide, 26-inches long) for broad coverage.
With the Rigiflex open neckline, and interlocking cap system is unique to the Bebe Au Lait range. This ensures a full view of your baby so they are comfortable, and you can be sure that airways are clear at all times.
This also provides great ventilation and a comfortable environment for feeding. Great for keeping your baby cool during the summer months.
With two cloth pockets sewn into the design provide convenient access to cloths for cleanup and storage.
It is super easy to wash. Just throw it in the machine and you are good to go. No need to cry over spilt milk.
The Now Born range of nursing covers are feature packed and a great alternative to the Bebe Au Lait, at a more affordable price.
The full size of the apron gives you excellent coverage, and provides a safe and comfortable space for your baby. The dual adjusting straps ensure maximum security and will keep everything where it should be.
Inside the apron you will find a burp cloth sewn into the corner of the stitching. While it is not big, it is convenient for small cleanups.
You will also find a pocket on the inside that is handy for storing a pacifier within reach when you are feeding. Ready for it to plugged back in when baby is done, with no fuss.
The wired neckline will also ensure your baby is in full view, in a well ventilated environment.
Included is a small carry bag that the cover fits snugly inside. This keeps the space taken up in your handbag to a minimum.
The burp cloth sewn into the inside of the cover is very large, and is the Arrow's defining feature in the design.
While other covers have a burp cloth included, these are usually intended to be used to wipe down a baby's mouth after feeding. The Arrow is completely different. This cover allows you to thrown the cover over your shoulder and burp your baby.
This negates the need for a separate towel, and is a very convenient and clever inclusion.
With a wide apron, and the extra weight in the base that the burp cloth provide, you end up with a self securing cover that is held in place by that weight.
You also have the wired neckline - as is the standard for this kind of cover - but is made of good quality material.
This is the nursing cover that I opted for with my little one. It is inexpensive and comes with some cool features, like an attached pouch for packing and a sliding ring which helps you keep track of which side you left off on.
Even though I exclusively breastfed with this cover, I would recommend it more for the pumping mother.
It runs a bit small (narrow), so once your baby reaches the age where she is a bit more active, it is very easy for her to move the cover just enough to expose you.
The cover packs up easily into its attached pouch, reducing it to a compact 8” x 6” size, making it possible to throw it into any bag while taking up almost no space.
Design includes a sliding ring feature that is great for keeping track of which side you are feeding on. With everything else going on with your little one, this feature takes one more thing off your mind.
This product boasts an open, rigid neckline, but it is made of a soft plastic so that it can fold up small enough to fits into its pouch. Because of this, it wears out quickly and makes it hard to see your baby.
Rather than being rectangular in shape, it is shaped more like a trapezoid. This means that it is very narrow at the bust, where you need the most coverage. You will likely wear this cover over your shoulder rather than your front to make sure you stay covered.
There are many companies that now design clothes with nursing mothers in mind, and this poncho is one of the best out there.
It is intended to be used as a nursing cover, combining both practicality and fashion.
The features of this product include 360° coverage, ensuring your sides and back are hidden at all times regardless of whatever fussing and squirming that may go on underneath.
Great for the breastfeeding mother who is looking for something a bit more subtle.
Very portable and easy to take with you, just like any old top. You can either wear it as a piece of clothing (especially in the cooler months) or throw it in your bag and go.
While it is one size fits all, this means that it is not adjustable. For a smaller framed woman, she may have troubles with a loose neckline or feeling like she is swallowed in it.
This does not have the same kind of open neckline. So you may not have the direct line of sight to your baby, and you have a reduced airflow.
It is not a simple wash and go piece. Made of a cotton/spandex blend, the care instructions include gentle washing and air drying, which may be a turn-off for mothers who are looking for simplicity.
Knowing you are going to be nursing (pumping and/or breastfeeding) every couple of hours means that public nursing will be unavoidable. With this in mind, you are going to want a good cover that will keep you comfortable, covered, and modest.
The Bebe Au Lait is the premium offering in this space and a reliable option. For the more budget conscious the Now Born range of covers offers a comparable experience.
Both of these hit all the points on our list: breathable material (100% organic cotton), full coverage (dual straps to hold it in place), boned neckline to give you eye contact with your baby) packability (an easy storage pouch), and easy maintenance (machine washable).
The biggest problem is deciding on the pattern that I like the most!