Chest/Breastfeeding in Public… Stay Calm and Nurse On

November 23, 2022 Infant

Moms and babies both benefit from human milk. However, previous generations bottle-fed their babies, so many people have never seen someone chest/breastfeeding. Even your friends may have never seen a nursing mom. That’s one reason that nursing in public has a degree of “shock value”. Some even think chest/breastfeeding is a private activity that should be done behind closed doors (or in bathroom stalls.) On-the-go moms need to feed their babies “on-demand” — wherever, whenever! If you are shy or easily embarrassed, know that there are ways to chest/breastfeed discreetly.

Tips for chest/breastfeeding in public:

Discreet Chest/Breastfeeding Positions to Use in Public

Create your own “privacy zone” by trying different positions. You must practice different positions in order to know which positions are best for feeding without showing too much. A good position to start with is the cradle position. Mothers sometimes feel more exposed if they use a hold such as the clutch/ruby/football hold, because the breast is not hidden by baby’s head. If that position works for you and baby, try changing it to an upright “V-Clutch hold”, which works even better for some moms.

Position yourself for privacy

Hold baby’s head close to you so they’re blocking your chest/breast, then lift your outer shirt up and unhook the fastener of the nursing bra or tank top. The undershirt can stay tucked in so you don’t have to expose your chest/breast or your belly, while just enough is free to latch onto. Afterwards, fasten your bra and pull your shirt down. Switching sides? Position your shirt as if you’re closing up shop, reposition baby and start feeding.

Ways to cover up while nursing

Know the Law

Chest/Breastfeeding in public is legal. In the United States, laws about breastfeeding vary from state to state; a federal law only applies to federal government properties such as post offices and national parks.
All 50 States have passed laws that either allow women to chest/breastfeed in public, or protects them from prosecution for indecent exposure. For more information on your state chest/breastfeeding laws, see the National Conference of State Legislatures,

“Try layering; like a tank top and long sleeve shirt.”

“Once my husband realized how good it was for us, he was all for it!”

“Knowing about public breastfeeding laws in my state made me feel confident.”

“At first I was nervous that people would be judgmental and rude if they somehow realized what I was doing. So, when I actually received a few smiling nods and even a compliment while nursing in public I was on cloud nine.”

Side Lying Hold

Side-Lying Hold

  1. For the right breast, lie on your right side with your baby facing you.
  2. Pull your baby close. Your baby’s mouth should be level with your nipple.
  3. In this position, you can cradle your baby’s back with your left arm and support yourself with your right arm and/or pillows.
  4. Keep loose clothing and bedding away from your baby.
  5. Reverse for the left breast.

This hold is useful when:

Cross Cradle Hold

Cross-Cradle Hold

  1. For the right breast, use your left arm to hold your baby’s head at your right breast and baby’s body toward your left side. A pillow across your lap can help support your left arm.
  2. Gently place your left hand behind your baby’s ears and neck, with your thumb and index finger behind each ear and your palm between baby’s shoulder blades. Turn your baby’s body toward yours so your tummies are touching.
  3. Hold your breast as if you are squeezing a sandwich. To protect your back, avoid leaning down to your baby. Instead, bring your baby to you.
  4. As your baby’s mouth opens, push gently with your left palm on baby’s head to help them latch on. Make sure you keep your fingers out of the way.
  5. Reverse for the left breast.

This hold is useful when:

Football Hold

Clutch or “Football” Hold

  1. For the right breast, hold your baby level, facing up, at your right side.
  2. Put your baby’s head near your right nipple and support their back and legs under your right arm.
  3. Hold the base of your baby’s head with your right palm. A pillow underneath your right arm can help support your baby’s weight.
  4. To protect your back, avoid leaning down to your baby. Bring baby to you instead.
  5. Reverse for the left breast.

This hold is useful when:

Breastfeeding Holds

Cradle Hold

  1. For the right breast, cradle your baby with your right arm. Your baby will be on their left side across your lap, facing you at nipple level.
  2. Your baby’s head will rest on your right forearm with your baby’s back along your inner arm and palm.
  3. Turn your baby’s tummy toward your tummy. Your left hand is free to support your breast, if needed. Pillows can help support your arm and elbow.
  4. To protect your back, avoid leaning down to your baby. Instead, bring your baby to you.
  5. Reverse for the left breast.

This hold is useful when:

Breastfeeding Holds

Laid-Back Hold

  1. Lean back on a pillow with your baby’s tummy touching yours and their head at breast level. Some moms find that sitting up nearly straight works well. Others prefer to lean back and lie almost flat.
  2. You can place your baby’s cheek near your breast, or you may want to use one hand to hold your breast near your baby. It’s up to you and what you think feels best.
  3. Your baby will naturally find your nipple, latch, and begin to suckle.

This hold is useful when: