How To Become A Public Nursing Ninja

Breastmilk consumed in a crowded mall won't improve your baby's health or IQ any more than usual.  There will come a time, however, that you will actually leave your house again.  When you do, however modest you may be, you won't want to trudge to your car in the cold or to some foodcourt bathroom to nurse.

Don't schlep or hide for fear of harassment or exposure!  Embrace your inner ninja.  Remember your rights, and remember that people who see you nursing your baby will be encouraged to do the same (or support it) when the time comes.  If you're nervous, start small - use a subtle cover and bring a friend (who is ballsy and supportive or large and male, or both).  

A nursing tent is not a subtle cover, and makes you look like you're hiding in a clothy tank preparing to attack (in a very un-ninjalike fashion).  A small blanket bunched artfully between your baby's head an the public can work - although I've found a scarf draped from your shoulder can be the most versatile way to make it difficult for anyone who doesn't desperately want to be to be offended to see much actual boob - or even to notice you are nursing.  You can also easily nurse in most slings with minimal exposure.  

Once you've gotten some practice, you can move on to a great nursing shirt alone - the best are fitted and open in a folded flap across the chest.  I love the Boob Design shirts I used to buy at the Upper Breast Side in Manhattan (basic black long sleeve).  They clearly show that you are nursing, and yet show little breast or nipple.

One thing other thing - when in hostile territory, don't forget your game face! This is the look that says :

"I am really busy and doing something important.  Spare yourself the withering iciness of my annoyed glare and the very sarcastic way I will say 'really' if you dare confront me about this - not to mention the frosty but longwinded lecture you (and your manger, if applicable) will get from me if you dare press it further than that." 

Once you get your confidence up, it's time to post pics on facebook, attend a nurse-in, or get brave like these ladies from the Park Slope neighborhood in Brooklyn, described hilariously in New York Times blogger Samantha Story's piece excerpted below.

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"While I struggled to manipulate my son’s head to cover as much of my breast as possible, these women took their comfort with nakedness to a whole new height.

One woman had her shirt completely unbuttoned, her pretty pink, lacey maternity bra on display. Another had one breast lopped over the top of her tank top. The third had twins. She wasn’t wearing a shirt — or a bra for that matter — just a hoodie sweatshirt unzipped with a baby at each breast. She walked around the restaurant with them in her arms, her body swaying in a comforting dance.

If only I was a 14-year-old boy! I admired their lack of self-consciousness but had to admit I was uncomfortable — it was as if I had landed in a private living room, and it felt as if I were privy to their intimacy unbeknownst to them.

But open and comfortable breast-feeding is quintessential daytime Park Slope. Moms are just as relaxed nursing at the local pizza parlor as they are in each other’s homes. "

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Awesome.  But if that's not your style, just find the level that suits you're inner public nursing ninja - and don't forget your game face.