Nursing Covers: The Yay to the Nay
Let me start by saying, I’ve got big boobs. Especially when they are filled with breastmilk. It is my belief that big-breasted women have a much more difficult time feeding their babies discreetly in public.
I’ve watched friends with smaller chests, gingerly lift their baby up to their unbuttoned shirt, casually fling a scarf or muslin swaddle around their neck, letting it drape ever so elegantly over their baby’s head. The baby’s head completely covers any sign of boobage, therefore making the mother look beautiful, natural and effortless all at once. There are no leering passing strangers or people thinking this mother should get a room.
I am not that mother. My baby’s face does not completely eclipse my Double Ds. Or my Fs, as they were deemed by a maternity bra fitter right after I had my second baby. I don’t lift up my child to breastfeed. She lies on my lap and the boobs find their way to her. Also, I cannot do this one-handed and continue to eat a meal in a restaurant or chat on the phone in a park. I need one hand to hold the baby and the other to make sure my nipple is positioned in my baby’s mouth. If I let go, my boob tumbles to one side, with my baby literally hanging on by her teeth.
With my first child, I always made sure to breastfeed in private. I just wasn’t comfortable whipping my girls out, even though I had no problem if others did it around me. With my second (currently three months old), a lot of my insecurity and self-consciousness went away and I now don’t really care if my friends and family get an an eyeful of my breasts.
When I am out in public, surrounded by strangers, it’s a different story. I want to be that person who feels totally at ease feeding her child in a crowded restaurant, but in reality, I haven’t yet developed a technique that makes me feel comfortable.
So I tried three different nursing covers to see if one of them would do the trick.
The Bebe Au Lait Nursing Cover is a large patterned square of fabric that hangs from an adjustable strap around your neck. The neckline is made of their patented Rigiflex which leaves a gap that allows you to see your baby and promotes air flow.
Bebe Au Lait Nursing Cover has many patterns to choose from, but to be honest, the designs aren’t my favorite. They are all pretty bold and I’m not sure why I would want to call more attention to my torso while I’m breastfeeding than I would normally. But I did find one that was semi-acceptable. I liked being able to see my baby and not feeling like she was going to suffocate under a shirt. The Rigiflex definitely helped me position her on my breast and keep her there, although the fabric flapped around whenever she moved and I kept having to reposition it.
On the whole, I wouldn’t call the experience discreet, since the bold pattern and the hoop neckline call a lot of attention to yourself. I’m not sure why Bebe Au Lait Nursing Cover doesn’t offer their covers in solid colors. I would totally buy a black one.
The DRIA Cover is more like a regular shirt, or more accurately, a fashionable cotton poncho. It’s a large rectangular piece of fabric with a hole in the middle for your head. Then it’s kind of left up to you how you wish to get your baby inside and feed her.
I picked a cover that was striped in different shades of gray with dark seams down the front. If it weren’t for the shape, it felt like something I would wear on a normal day, plus it is super soft and premium feeling. I liked that you could plop it over your head and it was pretty even on all sides so there was no need to keep repositioning it.
I had trouble breastfeeding without being able to see my baby, until a friend suggested that I lift up the bottom and drape the excess fabric around the baby’s head so I could still see what I was doing. This worked nicely and I felt comfortable enough to breastfeed in the middle of the Metropolitan Museum, on an outing, without feeling like everybody was watching.
As another use, I left the DRIA Nursing Cover on when I put my baby in the carrier, because I realized it would protect my shirt from spit up. My baby spits up every time she feeds, which is one of the things that makes breast feeding in public difficult.
Their cover is similar to the DRIA, in that it looks like a soft cotton shirt. But rather than a rectangular poncho, the Bamboobies cover is two squares sewed together with the hole for your head over to one side. When it’s on, one side wraps around your arm and the other side drapes openly, which actually looks kind of elegant.
The problem is that you can only breastfeed on one side without turning the whole thing around to accommodate the other breast. I also found that there wasn’t quite enough fabric to do the draping thing that I was doing with the DRIA. Plus, it needs to be put on correctly which is hard when you have nowhere to put the baby down (this actually happens to me a lot because I often use a baby carrier instead of a stroller). With the DRIA, I could just blindly throw the thing over my head but with the Bamboobies I had to hold it out in front of me, figure out where the hole was and what side I wanted the open drape before putting it on.
But I do really appreciate that it can be worn as a shirt.
I wish I could say that my experience with the nursing covers made me feel comfortable enough to breastfeed anywhere, and anytime, but unfortunately that is not the case. In almost every scenario, I felt pretty awkward and ended up going into a restroom where I could just take off my entire shirt and let the baby go to town.
The closest I came to feeling and looking comfortable like one of my smaller-breasted nursing friends, was with the DRIA Cover.