There seems to be some confusion in the world about when and where women should breastfeed. The good news is that US law is almost uniform throughout all fifty states, guaranteeing women the right to breastfeed–without covering up–in any space where she and the baby have a right to be. Despite some people’s ignorance, that includes restaurants, stores, airplanes, movie theaters, coffee shops, work, public parks, and so on.

With my firstborn, I almost always covered up when I nursed her in public. I had this great little thing called an Udder Cover, which, despite its stupid name that capitalizes on the idea that women are cows, was quite handy. I used it on airplanes and during my weekly writing trips to Starbucks, as well as at the zoo, in restaurants, and at an outdoor wedding reception. However, it’s been four years since I breastfed for the first time, and now I’m getting back into the habit with my son, who is five weeks old. I’ve fed him in a several places, and have covered up in very few of them. I realized a while ago that I felt like the cover up announced to everyone in the area I AM BREASTFEEDING, while subtly nursing doesn’t get anyone’s attention except perhaps people that are right there, up close.

Any other breastfeeding moms who are active and busy like me are bound to ask themselves the question: When should I cover up?

Allow me to present a comprehensive guide that can let you know when, precisely, you should use a cover up to breastfeed your baby.* Ready? Let’s do this.

International Breastfeeding Symbol

International Breastfeeding Symbol



Are you at home? Don’t cover up.

Are you in the presence of people whom you don’t want to possibly see your part of your boob or maybe your nipple? Cover up if you’d be more comfortable covering up.

Are you in the presence of misogynistic jerks who think breastfeeding in public is disgusting? Teach them a lesson. You don’t have to cover up for their sake.

Does your baby scream when you cover him or her up to feed?
Don’t cover up.

Are you new to nursing and still trying to figure out how to get the baby to latch? Don’t make things harder by feeling like you have to cover up.

Does covering up help your baby from getting distracted by the world around him? By all means, cover up.

Is it hard for you to get your baby to latch when you can’t see his or her face really easily? Don’t cover up.

Is it really hot outside, and you’re worried that covering up the baby might make him or her overheat? Don’t cover up.

Does the idea of breastfeeding without covering up make you uncomfortable? Feel free to cover up.

Do you NOT want to cover up?
Don’t cover up.

Do you want to cover up? Go for it! It’s your body–you do what you want. Cover up!

*If you are a breastfeeding mom, and you feel differently about any of these situations than I have instructed here, then you should simply ignore my instructions and do whatever you want regarding covering up or not covering up.

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