Favorite Breastfeeding Spots in the Capital District

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.
If you’re traveling, you could also try the Nursing Room Locator blog or the website You Can Breastfeed Here, where folks write in the suggested places.  There aren’t a ton listed, but it’s a good idea.
Now, for some random tips:
  • 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.

14 Comments

  1. Melinda

    Hey, great post! I would have kicked that orchard employee’s butt for you… except I didn’t have any kids at the time. But I’m doing it in my head right now. 😉

  2. Thanks, Melinda. What’s sad is that today’s Katie could have kicked her butt. . . but 7-years-ago Katie was just barely functioning as mommy. I should have said, though, that I told the moms’ group later and we never visited again.

  3. Kelly

    Thanks! This is really helpful, I’m a mom to a nearly 6 week old and I have been searching for places to nurse her (I overcame the initial anxiety after the first couple of times we went out). I wanted to add the Whistling Kettle in Ballston Spa has tables by the wall with couch-like chairs and they are nursing friendly, as well as the Flavour Cafe in Troy. I also use UdderCovers (uddercovers.com) as they always have promos going where you just pay shipping for the covers (I have 2 since I just keep getting food on them!). Milk Bands have also been a HUGE help keeping track of when I last fed & what side – it’s my favorite thing right now! Just to add another thing – the drive in movie theaters in the area have been a godsend! They make us feel we aren’t missing anything (we are big movie people) and I can still nurse & not worry about a fussy baby bothering anyone. I hope that helps someone!

  4. Claire Boeck

    Katie, that is absolutely outrageous. I can’t believe that woman treated you (and your baby) that way. You absolutely have the right to nurse anywhere, but particularly on a hay bale in the middle of a farm seems particularly benign. She really needs to find another way to focus her energy. If I am ever blessed with a biological child who I can breastfeed, I will definitely keep a copy of that law in my diaper bag as well.

  5. Thanks, Claire. I wish I could remember the name. That’s the trouble: when you’re a brand-new mommy, sometimes you’re just too overwhelmed to fight back.

  6. Michelle

    This is totally a soap box issue for me, but I doubt my $0.02 in that department is necessary (or in this case, helpful!)

    To expand on your tank top advice, I have found that ANY tank top is helpful (not just those intended for nursing mothers), and I *always* dress in layers. This way, when I’m nursing, I can lift the top layer (ie: t-shirt, sweater, whatever) and lower the top of the bottom layer (usually a tank top) and expose very little skin.

    I’ve never liked the typical nursing gear. Besides being generally expensive, I never liked the fit of tanks with built in bras. Personal preference, I suppose, but I thought that tidbit might help someone.

    Cheers!

  7. Claire Boeck

    I guess what bothers me the most is that she had no qualms about letting an innocent baby go hungry. I’m glad that in this case the baby was done eating, but it still doesn’t justify her letting her ignorance and prejudice take priority over the need of a baby to eat. But, I know I’m preaching to the choir. I just feel the need to vent when I read infuriating things like this.

  8. Melissa

    When my daughter was a newborn, we went to the Great Escape and there was nowhere to nurse or pump. We even went to customer service and they had no suggestions. Now, the Great Escape has these wonderful rooms that have a fantastic ambiance, complete with gliders and a nursery theme, where moms can nurse in private and in quiet. I wish they’d had that a year ago!

  9. Melissa–thanks for the update. So glad that there’s an escape from the Great Escape when necessary (ok, lame: I know). It’s always heartening when you places make an effort, isn’t it?

  10. Hi Katie,

    You and your readers might be interested in our website, which launched in June, and already has 500 mom-submitted breastfeeding-friendly locations. Locations include detailed information, and, often, a photo. They are searchable by city or zip code.

    I’d love to add those places you’ve listed here, that are not already in our growing collection, but will wait for your invitation and permission to do so. (I would, of course, credit you, and link back to this page.)

    All my best!
    Carrie
    Founder of You Can Breastfeed Here

  11. nicole

    I have a now-1-year-old and have breastfed many places around the Capital District over the past year. My suggestions to add to this list: Cheesecake Factory has nice big booths- you can do lunch, take an inside seat, and nurse while devouring crazy amounts of calories. But nursing burns calories! Win! Our server certainly knew I was nursing but didn’t bat an eye about it.
    Buy Buy Baby on Central Ave has a great nursing room – 2 gliders, a changing table, lots of nice amenities.
    All of the area museums have good spots, and lots of other moms around.
    Colonie Center has cushy chairs throughout. I nursed in the middle of the mall in one of those seating areas during a desperate moment and no one even glanced my way.
    Destination Maternity has cushy chairs and supportive staff.

    It boils my blood that it can be so hard to find a place where you’re comfortable nursing a baby. I will say though that so much of the discomfort comes from within. I nursed in restaurants, at the Saratoga race track, at the mall – everywhere- and I never got a negative comment. In the beginning I was so nervous about it, but once I got comfortable I realized that breastfeeding is the ultimate in convenience. I never had to tote a bottle/warmer/formula/anything with me to feed my baby. Just me. Now that she’s a year and needs snacks and solid food traveling involves so much more gear! The best thing we can all do as nursing moms is to make it no big deal to see a mom feeding her baby. It’s just a normal part of being the mom of a baby. And when you see another mom nursing? Give a thumbs up.

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