If you nurse, it will probably happen to you: You’re out and about and you THOUGHT your baby was fine, but…uh oh, he or she is doing that telltale “Eh, eh, eh” cry. Baby is hungry, you don’t have a bottle, and there are a thousand people around you! But how will they react to you stepping aside for a moment to feed your impatient child? If you’re like me, every horror story you’ve ever heard on the internet will come roaring back to you and you will grit your teeth until you have a headache and declare that staying at home until your child is weaned is the best course of action.
Nursing in public isn’t too bad once you get used to it. At a restaurant you can curl up all cozy in a booth, at a park you can sit on a bench, using jackets to cover yourself and baby if you want. In many states, nursing in public is even protected by law.
Traveling, however, can be an entirely different beast. Every few months another story makes its rounds on the news about a mother getting kicked off of a train or airplane by stern employees who insist that nursing on a plane isn’t allowed, and then if you make the horrific mistake of reading the comments on those news stories you’ll see dozens of people saying ignorant things like, “Well she should have just pumped a bottle before she got on the 10 hour flight, why did she need to nurse on the plane?” It’s enough to make anyone want to second-guess nursing while traveling, but you will probably travel at some point while you nurse a child, and your body will not stop making milk just because you hopped on a bus with sixty other people.
The first time I really nursed while on a long trip, my daughter was seven months old and we were boarding a plane for a three and a half hour flight. She slept the whole way to the airport, then I loaded her into a ring sling and she poked her head curiously out while we went through security before falling back asleep. Shortly after we boarded the plane and started to get settled, she began wailing. Oh, no! This was the first test. I loosened the ring sling and latched her on, ducking a little just in case someone got a tiny glimpse of flesh. I was super nervous, basically waiting to be thrown out the window and have CPS called on me for simply trying to nurse on a plane, which of course made it harder for her to latch. It took a few tries but I noticed most people just pushed on down the aisle, staring at their feet or tapping their fingers impatiently as people in front of them failed to cram their luggage into the overhead compartments. My daughter finally latched and I yanked the tail of the ring sling up over us as a cover.
And that was it. I had been terrified that every nursing-in-an-airplane horror story would happen to me, and I don’t think anyone even noticed. My daughter nursed through takeoff and then fell asleep again. The flight was incredibly easy. After that, I didn’t worry about nursing in public so much. On road trips, which we take every few months to visit my in-laws, we simply stop at a rest stop a couple of hours into the trip and I nurse in the front seat. Once, a woman glanced over as she was walking by our car, and her eyes grew big and round when she realized what I was doing. But she kept walking, and didn’t say anything.
Sure, it can be kind of a pain to nurse while traveling, sometimes. If baby spits up all over the place, it’s much harder to clean up in public, as opposed to at home where you can just strip everyone and wander around half-naked until you can get to some clean clothes. But for the most part, I found it far less scary than I had anticipated.
What are some of your tricks and tips for nursing while traveling?