I was going to talk about breastfeeding in my Teensy Babies posts (here & here), but after I’d asked for suggestions on where to breastfeed, I realized that there was way too much information. I’ve divided the list into easy places to nurse for the brand-new mom, who’s really looking for privacy and quiet, and a second list for the mom who’s trying to nurse one child while keeping the older child(ren) happy. Brand-new moms can certainly use the places on the second list, too. In fact, once you get the baby settled in and happy, you might get a chance for some adult conversation. Moms had all sorts of helpful advice for the new-to-nursing folks, so there are some random tips, too.
But first, a disclaimer: you don’t “need” to go to any special place, because it is your right to breastfeed anywhere you happen to be. I wish I’d really known that early on. When M was probably about 4 months old, I took her along to a moms’ group outing to a local farm where the kids were picking pumpkins. I was suffering a bit from what I called one of the new mom Panic Attacks when I realized that I was climbing onto a hayride with a bunch of people who actually had children who could appreciate being on a hayride. I felt a little bit stupid, but I was persevering. Then, in the middle of a large field, M started fussing. Various members of the moms’ group were picking pumpkins, and I was waiting for the hayride back, so I planted (get it? planted? at the farm?) myself on a couple of bales of hay. I was tucked into a corner and feeling relatively sheltered when a lady who worked at the orchard came and told me that I could not feed my baby. I didn’t know what to do. I was mortified. I mean, how did she even find me and notice what I was doing? I started crying. M was finished, anyway (or perhaps there’s such a thing as mortification curdling?), and so I just mumbled something about being done and walked away. Now, what I should have done is said that, yes, I can breastfeed here. Or, if I was scared, I should have gone and told the closest experienced mom in my group, and surely someone would go to whoever was the biggest lactivist at the orchard that day, and someone would have helped me. But I was new to the group, and a new mom. In fact, the only real friend I had to tell was another brand-new mom who was still reeling with guilt because she’d stopped breastfeeding (both of our kids are happy, healthy 2nd graders now). I tried not to show that I was crying through the hayride. And then I sobbed as I nursed M in my car later.
When I got home, I found the New York State Law:
NY CLS Civ R § 79-e (Article 7 Miscellaneous Provisions).
1994 N.Y. ALS 98; 1994 N.Y. LAWS 98; 1994 N.Y. S.N. 3999
§ 79-E. Right To Breast Feed.
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a mother may breast feed her baby in any location, public or private, where the mother is otherwise authorized to be, irrespective of whether or not the nipple of the mother’s breast is covered during or incidental to the breast feeding.
I printed it out and put it into my diaper bag, where it stayed for the next three years or so. I never had a problem again, but it felt good to be prepared. You can find a summary of all different state laws on breastfeeding here.
But don’t let that story scare you. Most people and places are pefectly lovely about breastfeeding. Here’s a little icon someone showed me:
Businesses post this to let you now that they’re breastfeeding-friendly, or to help you find a good spot for nursing. In fact, if you know someone with a breastfeeding-friendly business, you should make sure that they know about this so that they can communicate this clearly and score some extra goodwill with moms in the know. There’s more information here.
Meanwhile, here’s our list of favorite breastfeeding places, with contributions from folks from LLL and Albany Yoga Mamas among others (thank you!):
Good, easy places to nurse:
- Dressing rooms, if it’s not super-busy. Moms have reported kind and helpful staff people who’ve let them breastfeed at LL Bean, the Gap, and Target.
- Peaches n’ Cream Cafe in Stuyvesant Plaza has a back dining room that’s often quiet when they’re not busy.
- The Albany airport has a “Nursing Lounge” connected to one of the restrooms.
- The Babies R Us in Latham (the same shopping center as Target) has a nursing mothers’ room with a glider rocker, sofa, and changing table.
- At Colonie Center, moms report they like the Macy’s restroom next to lingerie on the second floor.
- There are rumors that Pottery Barn Kids in Crossgates is pretty friendly, but I didn’t get a firsthand account on this one.
- When it warms up, a nice starter place is a quiet park bench.
- Professor Java’s on Wolf Road and many Starbucks locations have sofas, although there’s frequently quite a bit of foot traffic as well.
- Virgil’s House is a coffee place in Saratoga Springs.
- Honest Weight Food Co-op welcomes breastfeeders.
Places to nurse the little one while your older child(ren) will be entertained:
- Colonie Center has a “Family Restroom” with a rocker and toys for older kids to play with while you nurse the baby. Their play area has pretty high-backed comfortable benches, too.
- Joyful Jumpers has several couches on one end while the big kids are off playing. I don’t think I’ve ever gone there and not seen at least one person nursing a baby.
- At the New York State Museum, there are quiet spots near the Iroquois Long House or in the Discovery Center by the puzzles.
- Tiny Tots Tea Room in Clifton Park.
- At the Children’s Museum at Saratoga, moms report good nursing at “little theater” downstairs and the activity room upstairs.
- The Albany Art Room has a nice sofa and is fairly quiet on weekdays.
- At the Clifton Park Library, a mom reports that there is a “parent’s book” alcove in the left corner of the children’s area that is semi-private and comfortable (with no kids running around) as well as chairs that face outside on the edge of the children’s library area.
- A commenter let us know that The Great Escape now has a nursing room.
- Don’t forget nursing pads when you start to get out of the house. You can also bring an extra cardigan just in case.
- A couple of different moms recommended Hooter Hiders.
- It’s easy to breastfeed discreetly if you have the right carrier. Some suggestions: the Mei Tai, the ERGO, the Moby, the Maya Wrap, or other wraps or slings.
- My own very favorite nursing bra was Japanese Weekend’s Hug bra. No, I couldn’t do jumping jacks in it, but it was comfortable and easy to use. I bought one and after I tried it I tossed all the other ones bras and just got a couple more of these.
- You might find you’re more worried about exposing that postpartum belly flab than a breast. Tank tops help. Two that were recommended: Bravado! tank & Target tanks.
- One mom said that the best piece of advice that she received was think bring the baby in, not bring the breast out.
Experienced parents: any additions or other advice?
And new moms: don’t stay home. Get out there and have some fun. If you need a little more inspiration, click here.