A breastfeeding cover up, or nursing cover, is a lightweight rectangular cloth with a neck strap attached at the center. It resembles an apron but is wide enough to drape over a nursing baby, and has boning at the neckline to allow mom to easily see baby while maintaining her privacy during nursing. These covers are inexpensive, come in a number of fashionable designs, and can double as a light blanket when necessary.
Apprehensive About Public Breastfeeding?
For many breastfeeding mothers, a breastfeeding cover up (also called a breastfeeding cover, nursing cover, or hooter hider) can provide a way to breastfeed in public without feeling self-conscious. While breastfeeding is perfectly natural, and women should not be required to cover up to nurse a baby in public, the fact remains that many in our society are unfamiliar with breastfeeding. Because relatively few Americans have been exposed to normal breastfeeding, some people can be a little disconcerted in the presence of a breastfeeding mother. Sometimes, it’s the mother who feels uncomfortable with public breastfeeding.
Promoting Successful Breastfeeding
For some moms, a good breastfeeding cover up can mean the difference between successful nursing or a switch to formula feeding. This is because moms who are too modest or embarrassed to breastfeed in public might be tempted to feed a baby supplemental bottles of formula when in public, thereby decreasing her own milk supply and causing nipple confusion or other issues that could put successful breastfeeding at risk.
To Cover or Not to Cover
Many moms who nurse their babies freely in public places sometimes feel apprehensive about breastfeeding in the company of family, friends, at church, or at meetings or gatherings where people are in close quarters. A nursing cover can make it easier for moms to breastfeed in these settings without feeling self-conscious.
Gentle Breastfeeding Advocacy
Even though most nursing mothers aren’t trying to make a statement by nursing their babies, this is often the unintended effect of nursing in the company of others who aren’t used to being around breastfeeding moms. Sometimes gentle advocacy can be more effective, and this might mean accommodating other people’s sensibilities, insofar as this doesn’t cause discomfort or hinder a mother’s ability to nurse her baby.
Breastfeeding Cover Ups are Comfortable
Fortunately, nursing covers are designed for comfort, and most are made of a light-weight woven cotton. The boning at the neckline allows for greater air flow, keeping baby cool. Of course, if it’s 100 degrees out, or if your baby is so distracted or upset by the cover that he won’t nurse, then ditch the cover!
Nursing Covers Can Help Moms Gain Confidence
Especially in the early months, a nursing cover can be helpful for new moms and babies who haven’t yet mastered a discreet and efficient latch. A breastfeeding cover up can also serve as a tool for moms to overcome apprehension about breastfeeding in public. In fact, many new moms use the cover in the early months, but find they become less shy about breastfeeding in public and no longer need to use the cover as often when baby is a little older.
For women who prefer privacy while nursing their babies, using a nursing cover can be a helpful tool for encouraging successful breastfeeding. It can also be a tool for gentle breastfeeding advocacy to show future moms who might not otherwise consider breastfeeding their own children that it is possible to breastfeed discreetly, and that nursing a baby can easily fit into an active social life. Finally, nursing discreetly with a breastfeeding cover up can be a way to gently advocate breastfeeding among the uninitiated, without offending sensibilities.
Instructions for using a nursing cover.