When Leela was a teeny tiny baby and I was still new to breastfeeding, my sister came to visit. I was appalled at the idea of my sister seeing any amount of skin where my shirt should be so I made her look away while I latched the baby under a blanket.
She told me that at some point I would stop giving a crap and I'd be whipping my boobs out left and right to feed the baby wherever I was. At home with guests, at a restaurant, in line at the grocery store, vendor shopping at the fair? Nope, never. Not me. I firmly believed I would have it so that outings would coincide perfectly with the end of a feeding and not once would I be put to the uncomfortable, difficult task of nursing in public.
Yeah. I'm retarded.
I think I held out for a few months. At first I'd refuse to leave the house until after Leela finished eating. Then I had a phase of parking the car at the far end of the parking lot and feeding her, even if it was in the middle of a dinner out or food shopping. Then my awesome internet friend sent me a really sexy cover and I just turned my back to the crowds of people for extra caution.
Now I'm happy to say, my sister was, eh hem, right. A crap is no longer given by me. In one fell swoop, I'll pull Leela out of her high chair and have my boob in her mouth in the middle of Denny's and never miss a beat in shoveling pancakes in my mouth. And on-lookers will never have a clue!
Because I consider myself a pro now, here's a how-to for nursing in public.
1. Bring along a bottle of formula or expressed milk
Assuming you have bottles, fill them up and leave the house.
Pros: Absolutely no chance of flashing anyone unless your shirt spontaneously combusts.
Cons: Preparing bottles, heating bottles, cleaning bottles. Wasting unused milk. Replacing nursing sessions with bottle-feeding without pumping will affect your supply if done too often.
2. Receiving blanket
In my weird transition from private car-nursing to public cover-nursing, I had a brief stint with receiving blankets and "quick" latching. Honestly it sucked and I do not recommend it.
Pros: You probably got more receiving blankets than you know what to do with at your baby shower, so it's free.
Cons: It's awkward. You can't see what you're doing. There's no breathing holes for the baby. It will fall off. Your baby will not cooperate.
3. Smother your boob-lover under a cover
If you're going to cover up, spend a little extra on a nice cover with an adjustable strap and a rigid neckline. The strap will keep it in place and you won't have to fear flashing your fellow public-goers when the flailing baby rips the blanket from your bra strap. The boning in the neckline will create a little peephole for you to see the baby to latch and make googly eyes at, and for strangers to catch a peep too. Just kidding! Well mostly kidding, unless a stranger is brazen enough to stand directly over you and hope the baby unlatches at the exact moment they look in.
Pros: Very discreet. Pretty comfortable. Some hooter hiders are quite fashionable.
Cons: Nothing says HEY DON'T LOOK OVER HERE BECAUSE I AM CERTAINLY NOT BREASTFEEDING A BABY AND THERE IS CERTAINLY NOTHING TO SEE like a big paisley printed convulsing blanket on the front of a woman's body.
4. Undershirt down, overshirt up, boob in
At some point the cover became more of a nuisance than trying to keep Leela from crying too loud until I could get to my car. I decided to practice my discreet nursing techniques at home and soon realized I am the bomb at discreet nursing! Aw 'screet 'screet 'screet! What you need to do is buy some nursing tanks, or better yet, some regular tanks a size big to accomodate neckline stretching, and start wearing them under everything. Reach up your shirt, pull down the neckline of the undershirt under your boob, unhook the bra and expose your boob to your top shirt. Hold your baby in the nursing position with their little shakey mouth directly in front of you so that when you lift your top shirt you can slip the baby right on without anyone getting a glimpse. Adjust your shirts if you have to so that literally no skin is showing and it looks like you're just holding the baby.
Pros: No skin showing. No cover or blanket to carry around. An excuse to layer fun colored tanks under your shirts. Non-nursing tanks can be used after weaning.
Cons: You tell me... ?
5. Announce loudly to people in the general area "I'M ABOUT TO FULLY EXPOSE MY BARE BREAST IF EVERYONE COULD BE SO KIND AS TO NOT LOOK"
I use a combination of this and #4. I've become so familiar with my boob in the past 10 months, it's seriously old news, and the only thing I find offensive about it is that it is droopier than I'd like.
Cons: You only get to invoke your inner Lil Jon and sing "aw 'screet 'screet 'screet!' if you're actually being discreet