Home > Babies and Toddlers > Babies > Feeding Your Baby > Breastfeeding > Basics for Nursing Mothers

Basics for Nursing Mothers

Problems in Public

One of the issues of breast-feeding is the appropriate place to do it. I am a firm believer that it is appropriate to feed your baby discreetly wherever you happen to be when your baby is hungry. Demand feeding is the best thing for a breast-fed baby because their little bodies know how much they need and there is no real risk of overfeeding. So if the baby gives you a hunger cry (and you will learn to tell the difference between the baby's cries,) you will want to stop and feed her.

Now, I'm not advocating exhibitionism here, but society really should show far more respect and appreciation for nursing mothers. If you use good sense and cover yourself appropriately with a clean cloth diaper or receiving blanket, you should be able to do what you need to do when you need to do it. It is unfair for nursing mothers to be banished to dirty public restrooms because hypocritical people, who think nothing of half-naked models in billboards all over town and full frontal nudity in R-rated films, are offended by this most natural of human functions.

And, if you try, you can get pretty good at nursing discreetly. By the time I had my third child, I could nurse while I was walking around a store—with no one the wiser. It just takes some dexterity, practice, and a little bit of nerve. Just remember that there is nothing more precious than a mother feeding her child.

So get out into the world and demand the respect you deserve. Act as though it is the most natural thing in the world, and most people won't even notice you. Many places are more child-friendly than they used to be. Check out whether there is a lounge or a quiet corner with a chair if you are more comfortable being out of the way when you nurse.

Clothing Choices

While you are lactating you will feel most comfortable wearing a nursing bra with nursing pads. Your nursing bra will be much larger than your prepregnancy (or even pregnancy-size) bra. Your back size increases, making most of whatever you were wearing uncomfortable. You can sometimes get bra extensions in case you outgrow your nursing bras. They are little pieces of material with hooks that fit right onto your bra. Milk takes up a lot of room.


Lactation is the physical function of producing milk.

Milk-filled breasts leak. Isn't this dignified? Well, maybe not—but it is a fact of life. You have to look at the bright side. I may not have had a waist after childbirth, and I may have leaked a little milk every once in a while, but I looked voluptuous. Never in my life had I had such a well-endowed chest. Even I was impressed.

So what's a little spillage when you've got a figure like Sophia Loren? If you wear nursing pads with your bra and change them frequently you should feel more comfortable—and you'll stay relatively dry. Nursing pads are round cotton pads that fit into your bra and absorb the leakage from your nipples. If you don't wear them you might be out at your typical baby-feeding time and notice two huge wet spots where your breasts used to be.

Mom Alert!

Your baby's particular hunger cry can cause an automatic let-down of milk—as can anything that sounds like that cry. Even a squeaky door, if it squeaks in just the right pitch, can cause you to spring a leak.

Some women may even need to double their pads if they are prone to an easy let-down reflex. Your body is so programmed with instinct that your milk may well come in if you even think about your baby or if you see or hear someone else's baby.

By the way, there are nursing shields made from materials other than cotton. I had some reusable nursing shields made out of plastic. They fit around the nipple and caught the leakage. It was actually kind of weird when I got to see the amount of milk that had accumulated. They also made my already enlarged udders look like a cross between Madonna's gold-cone breasts and Dolly Parton's.

Express Yourself

If you go back to work while you are still nursing—or if your lifestyle requires you to be away from your baby during one or more of her feeding times—you can express some of your milk during the day so that your breasts don't become engorged. If you are able to master the art of using a breast pump, you can do well with it.

<< Previous: Nursing mothers

More on: Breastfeeding

Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Motherhood © 1999 by Deborah Levine Herman. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit Amazon's web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


8 Epic Emoji-Themed Crafts, Activities & Recipes
Check out the best emoji crafts, activities, and recipes! They're perfect for an emoji-themed birthday party or anytime you need DIY (and screen-free!) summer activities for kids, tweens, and teens.

Find Today's Newest & Best Children's Books
Looking for newly released books for your child? Try our Book Finder tool to search for new books by age, type, and theme!

10 Free Summer Learning Worksheets
Print these free printables for preschoolers and kindergarteners to help your child's mind stay sharp until September!

Ready for Kindergarten?
Try our award-winning Kindergarten Readiness app! This easy-to-use checklist comes with games and activities to help your child build essential skills for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Facebook icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks