Breastfeeding is one of the most intimate relationships between a mother and a newborn. The WHO has also recommended breastfeeding a baby for up to two years. There are innumerable benefits of breastfeeding for both mom and baby. Yet, many moms feel awkward stepping out in public spaces and feeding their babies even if they have the option of using a nursing cover.
More often than not, they face the stigma of onlookers when they are found feeding their babies in public. People prefer mothers to feed in changing rooms as they are considered more discreet. Some mothers use nursing covers as well to breastfeed in public spaces. But their percentage is extremely low. Family members also restrict them from feeding in public spaces. They encourage moms to introduce formula early on and even introduce cow’s milk (which is not recommended for young babies for their weak digestive systems). The reason given: mothers won’t be able to feed while travelling or if they are attending various house functions.
The sad part is that breastfeeding, the most natural experience for any mom and baby, has become stressful for the former because of restrictions on their movement outside the house. As a result of all the above, mothers end up weaning their babies at six months, sometimes even earlier too, because of apprehensions of feeding in public. In addition, mothers carry other supplement food with them to feed babies, so they don’t have to breastfeed. All this can be prevented if mothers use an excellent nursing cover to feed in public spaces. Nursing covers are now available for breastfeeding mothers who can feed their babies discreetly in public without getting stared at. Thanks to awareness of breastfeeding and babywearing, and many nurse-in-public campaigns, more mothers are finding the courage to step out and breastfeed in public domains.
Types of nursing covers
There are different types of nursing covers – apron, poncho, shawl, slings, and scarves. Each of these has been designed to suit the convenience of the mother. These are all one-fit sizes for all mothers.
- Apron – This style has been designed exactly like a chef’s apron. Apron-style nursing cover can be worn over dresses and is tied around the neck to give ample space for the baby to breathe. The baby’s head is to be held vertical or slanting while feeding. Ensure that the baby’s head is controlled correctly.
- Poncho – This has been created precisely like a sweater poncho. The difference is that the poncho’s top is wider than the normal woollen poncho. The material to be used is soft cotton. It must be breathable for the baby while feeding. There must be an ample gap at the top of the poncho, so oxygen enters inside. Ensure that the baby’s head is correctly positioned.
- Shawl – This is the old-fashioned nursing cover. A shawl can have variations as well. It can come with clips or Velcro that can be fastened to the shoulders so that the shawl doesn’t come off or slip while feeding the baby. Again, the correct position of the baby is important. The shawl must be made of thin cotton material as well.
- Sling – This type of nursing cover can be fastened around the neck on one side, with only one side covered where the baby is feeding. It ensures discreet feeding in public spaces and otherwise.
- Jersey style – This type of cover can be worn like a jersey over clothes. It is extremely comfortable, and the baby can breathe easily while feeding.
- Scarf – Twist the scarf into an “8” shape and close the opposite ends to make an “O” shape around your neck. When you are nursing, unwind a layer of the scarf across your shoulder. Then, loosen it in front of your body, place your baby and nurse.
- Versatile – Some nursing covers like Superbottoms Stole Style Nursing Covers are versatile and can be adjusted and converted in any of the above styles!
Nursing covers are discreet, give adequate support to new mothers, and most importantly, they are comfortable for both mothers and babies. In addition, nursing covers minimize distractions for babies, and mothers can feed undisturbed in all modes of public transport – train, bus, metro, auto rickshaws and buses.
A mother can go about all her chores at home and all household tasks even while breastfeeding using secure nursing covers. In addition, some baby carriers double up as a practical nursing cover.
Helpful “Cover” Tips
These days covers for breastfeeding moms are exquisite and stylish. One can customize too. Get your old sarees/soft cotton fabrics and design them according to your requirement. Don’t let this come in the way of nursing in public or resort to early weaning.
Some basic tips for using a nursing cover:
- Ensure that there is enough space for the baby to breathe. Keep the opening of the cover wide enough for the baby to breastfeed comfortably.
- Keep the baby in a cradle position so that you can provide support with one hand below the baby’s body and support the mouth towards your breast.
- Wear a comfortable nursing bra and a t-shirt below to lift for feeding easily. These days, you even get nursing kurtas.
- A nursing cover allows you enough space to switch sides (change breasts) for feeding without lifting the cover and exposing either end.
- If you don’t have a proper nursing cover, you can even use a thin, small size blanket as a good cover during breastfeeding. Tie opposite ends or corners of the blanket together to make a triangular shape, and tie them together in a knot, making a loop. Slip the loop on your neck with the knot on the side where you plan to place the baby and nurse. Your makeshift cover is ready to use.
Finally, the best tip: If you do not have any nursing covers, use the two-shirt method to nurse in public. You need a tank top and a comfortable t-shirt. Lift the t-shirt, slide the tank top straps sideways, open your nursing or a regular bra, and sit down to nurse wherever you are. Your body is completely covered, and you need not feel awkward nursing your baby or toddler in public. It is one of the best nursing covers too. Of course, you need not go for elaborate nursing wardrobes as well.
So happy nursing, moms!