Breastfeeding covers are designed to protect a mother's privacy while nursing or pumping in public places such as restaurants, parks, coffee shops, etc. Many women choose to wear one because they feel uncomfortable being exposed in front of people they don't know, especially in the early days when learning to breastfeed. Others may want to avoid people who might judge them for doing so - which sadly is still the norm in 2022.
Did you know: Breastfeeding is protected in the UK and there are laws which prevent any sort of discrimination on any premise. It is illegal to treat a mother differently, refuse to serve, harass, victimise, take photos/record or be asked to cover up/move. This is the same for any public place too. Read more on your rights here.
So here we round up the top questions we hear on breastfeeding in public, why you might want/need a breastfeeding cover, to begin with, and what kind of covers there are for first-time mums.
Do I need a breastfeeding cover?
So the honest answer is no, you don't need a breastfeeding cover and it isn't necessary, but, it will be really valuable in the first few months as a new mother when you are learning to breastfeed. You spend a lot of time getting the baby to latch/unlatch (yes you should do the latter if it feels uncomfortable and try latching again), watching that they are feeding well, checking if they are asleep or actively swallowing and so with that comes the likelihood you will need to have your boob out a lot too.
So it might be helpful that you have a cover which you can pop on quickly, without fuss, to use wherever you might need to breastfeed because when the baby is hungry you have to just get out the milk-makers and go. For many mums, this can be daunting, nerve-wracking, embarrassing or just an outright absolutely no to doing in public and we as Mamas get that.
New Mum Experiences On Breastfeeding In Public
We've been there too, one first time Mama said of her experience with her baby that she "never left the house around expected feed times, or ventured further than the supermarket, from fear of being caught needing to feed in public and not wanting people to stare". It is so upsetting to hear and know that this is something which might hold a new mum back from normal day-to-day activities, baby classes or meeting new friends.
Another mum also said "As a mama with larger breasts I have always been so embarrassed feeding in public because it can be much less discreet. With baby #1 my biggest regret was how much time I spent hiding away feeding in a corner or even the loo!". For many mums, this will anger you that we even feel like we have to resort to this because of how others can judge us in our most vulnerable times.
How to use a breastfeeding cover and is it safe?
It is important to note, that not all breastfeeding covers are created the same and you need to research what style works best for you and your baby.
Most covers are safe as long as they are made with a breathable fabric and aren't tight to your body. There needs to be room for airflow and crucially space for baby to tilt their head fully back for an effective latch. You also need to ensure that you can check on the baby easily not only for feeding purposes to ensure they are feeding well, but also to check if they are asleep as we would never recommend allowing a baby to sleep under a breastfeeding cover for a length of time.
Breastfeeding covers are also a good way to provide a little extra sun protection for babies as more of their skin will be covered, just make sure they don't overheat and you are both dressed appropriately in layers to cool off easily just as you would if you were babywearing in a carrier.
Nursing Apron Cover
There is the popular traditional Nursing Apron which is as it sounds, quite literally, a big apron to adjust around your neck and hangs over you both with boning to allow you to see the baby at all times. For some, this can be quite cumbersome and personally, we think draws more attention to yourself when feeding because it looks so much like a cooking apron.
Multi-Use Nursing Cover
5-in-1 nursing covers which you can use for covering car seats, high chairs, shopping carts and feeding but these are large and they aren't ideal for breastfeeding as they have a tighter fit around your shoulders which can feel restricting as you won't have any hands free to drink/scroll on your phone. So it depends on what your main use of the cover will be.
Nursing ponchos or shawls are accessory based and easier to use as they allow you to pop on and off without fuss and cover your entire front and back with buttons to adjust. They are a good option for colder months if you want extra warmth when feeding in a nursing vest or tee.
Infinity Scarf Cover
Our personal favourites as they let your personality/fashion sense come through as they aren't aimed at totally hiding the mother. They are designed to be popped over your shoulder and draped loosely to give your breast privacy covering the baby's entire body and yours. You can wear whatever you want to feed in these too.
So is it necessary to use a cover?
The truth is if a cover can help you breastfeed in public by providing privacy and boosting your confidence to feed wherever you want then we think it is a must-have and will only benefit mother and baby more. You will be more relaxed and your milk will let down quicker because the baby will feed more effectively if you are not stressed.
It is also less d for older babies around the 4-month mark when they discover the world around them and come out of the 'newborn' fourth trimester where all they know is you.
Plus, the more people see breastfeeding in public, whether that is uncovered or covered, the more it becomes normal and not taboo/sexual. If using a cover means more mothers are confident to feed in public and they are then seen feeding, then that is a win, and somewhere down the line, I'll bet you that mothers will be confident to feed without a cover too.
So however we feed, it is our choice and we should support mums regardless so that they achieve their own breastfeeding goals and ultimately reduce postpartum depression which is typically associated with breastfeeding and the difficulties we face.
We hope you found this article useful in weighing up the benefits of using a breastfeeding cover, read our other related blogs on breastfeeding in the early days and our essentials for new parents below.
Shop our Chicago Loop Breastfeeding Cover now.