The Essentials I Use to Modestly Nurse In Public

April 4, 2013


I believe wholeheartedly that breastfeeding is the best form of nourishment for a baby.  I don’t believe this just because it’s what I have been blessed to do.  The research actually shows that the benefits of breastmilk are astonishing.

I realize that not everyone can nurse their babies and in that situation the next best option must be chosen.

A major consideration for me when nursing in public is modesty.

However, nursing outside the comfort of your home can compromise modesty if you don’t prepare beforehand.

Here are a few tips I’d like to pass on to you to help you feel more comfortable the next time you nurse in public.

Clothing:  I buy lots of camis.  Specifically, I like the ones from Costco.  They aren’t skin tight, are inexpensive and come in great colors.  They have a built in bra but I prefer to cut that out.  This helps in two ways- 1) You can comfortably wear your own bra and 2) the neckline is much higher without the built in bra and can then be used under low-cut dresses and shirts.  I wear a cami under almost everything.  I didn’t do this when my first couple of children were born.  With them I was always feeling uncomfortable because my back and side were often exposed.  With a cami I can lift up my shirt and feel confident that I am being modest.

I love dresses but finding an affordable dress that isn’t specifically a nursing dress means a plunging neckline.  Again, a simple cami fixes that problem.  The Costco camis can easily be pulled down to nurse.  This will expose your breast but with a nursing cover you can remain modest.

I haven’t tried them but I’ve been seeing a lot about Undercover Mama nursing tanks.**  They attach to any nursing bra and you instantly have a nursing tank.  I’ve read the raving reviews on Amazon but have yet to take the plunge.  Have you tried them?  Let me know how they really function and fit if you have.

Another great addition to a modest nursing wardrobe is the cardigan.  I love cardigans!  I have several long sleeved ones (I think I have every color Old Navy sells) but need to boost my short sleeved ones now that the heat is here. The cardigan covers my back and sides while I am nursing.

I just purchased 2 dresses off Zulily; although I have to add clothing to them (cami and cardigan) for my liking, they are super cute and nursing-worthy!

Nursing Cover and Pads:  A nursing cover makes it easy to be modest.  I remember using a blanket 11 years ago with Haley and boy was that a pain.  I have three different brands of nursing covers and really they all work.  Get a cheap one and store it in the car or diaper bag so you are never without one.

There is one situation where a nursing cover isn’t going to give you the modesty you desire.  This happened to me recently and I was super uncomfortable.  At church during worship I needed to nurse Finley.  No problem.  I put the cover on and began feeding.  Then the congregation stood up to sing…I was sitting.  The people behind me could have easily looked down and unintentionally seen my exposed breast.  Something I would not have wanted and they would have been embarrassed.  The neck ribbing is great for looking down to see your baby but during church remember to make adjustments to be discreet.

I am very excited to have a DRIA cover on the way to test out and review for you.  It looks amazing and can’t wait to try it out!

Edit: yesterday while watching an informational movie in the visitor’s center at King’s Canyon National Park I nursed modestly without a cover. I personally don’t feel as comfortable in this situation but if your baby is hungry he needs to be fed!

Nursing pads are also a must if you leak.  You don’t want to be out in public with a big wet spot on your shirt.  Been there, I’m a big leaker.

One of my favorite cloth nursing pads are made by Bamboobies.  While the regular pads are cute and thin I actually prefer the thicker overnight pads.  I find they stay in place better in my favorite bras.  If you wear a nursing bra the regulars will stay in place just fine.

After Finley was born I was gifted a Lucky Mama BoobieBox.  What an excellent gift to give a new mom!

Check out the contents:

  • Milkmakers lactation cookie
  • Undercover Mama nursing tank voucher for $15 off their $25 tanks
  • Bamboobies: 1 pair regular and 1 pair overnight pads
  • Motherlove nipple balm and diaper rash/thrush ointment samples
  • Simple wishes hands-free pumping bra coupon and 5 milk storage bags
  • WishGarden Milk Rich Pocket Remedies (Happy Ducts, Milk Rich, Colic Ease) *MY FAVORITE ITEM IN THE BOX!
  • Celestial Seasons tea samples and coupon: Metabo Balance and Sleepytime teas
  • milk it kit Milk Labels: writeable, waterproof, freezer-safe
  • Lucky Mama duo of hair ties
  • Milk Money: coupons for mom-invented breastfeeding products worth up to $50

If you do forget the breastpads here’s a trick my sister-in-law’s mother taught me.  When letdown occurs apply a firm pressure to the side or front of the breast you aren’t nursing on.  Works perfectly for me but if you are prone to plugged ducts I wouldn’t advise this method.

It’s also important to know that most of you actually do have protection to nurse your baby in public.

For specific laws concerning your state check out this link on the National Conference of State Legislatures site.

Here are a few other helpful links:

La Leche League

World Health Organization

**referral links are included in this post.  please accept my thank you for supporting my family through any purchases you make.




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About Autumn Beck

Autumn is a wife, mother, homeschool teacher, friend and most important a follower of Christ. She began cloth diapering in 2005 and has experienced many joys and trials throughout the years. You can read more from Autumn over at

View all posts by Autumn Beck

26 Responses to “The Essentials I Use to Modestly Nurse In Public”

  1. Sandra Caballero Says:

    Love this blog post. I nursed my first daughter for two years. Now I’m nursing my second daughter for two years this August 10th,2016. With my second baby girl I had discovered the amazing way to nurse in public in a baby carrier. I nurse and shop around the store with out worrying about anything. I can easily keep an eye on my oldest daughter. How amazing is that right? I also wear a Cami shirt or stretchy sport bra that is not too tight so I can nurse my baby girl in the baby carrier.


  2. Nicole N. Says:

    Great post. I am pretty full-busted and my baby’s head cannot really cover as much as I am comfortable with having on display! Not to mention wanting to cover my post-baby tummy. I nurse in public lot, even at church. The one nursing cover that I prefer to any other I’ve tried is actually a combo-scarf-and-cover at Motherhood.


  3. Janet Says:

    I don’t think Autumn implied that nursing without a cover is immodest, as Rose commented. Personally, I have never nursed with a cover (in 17 years of nursing) because I feel that it draws attention to the fact that I’m nursing. I find that even in church I wear the cami or a cardigan, pull the cami down, the shirt up and keep it very close to baby’s mouth and nobody even realizes baby is nursing; nothing shows! It appears baby is sleeping or just lying comfortably in my arms. I have even had someone lean down to kiss the baby’s head and not realize I was nursing! But truly, I think whatever makes a woman feel comfortable enough to nurse whenever and wherever is fine. And if showing some breast doesn’t bother a nursing mom, it’s perfectly within our rights to nurse a baby without worrying about covering up. Just not all of us are that brave!


    • Emily D Says:

      I’ve had the same experience where somebody came up to look at my baby not realizing I was nursing. I generally just lift my shirt which keeps the top part covered, baby covers most of the rest. If my side belly is exposed I usually would cover with the baby’s blanket. To be honest, I’m not overly concerned about my breast showing, or being obvious that I’m nursing, but I hate having the post-preg belly with all the stretch marks exposed! (To a certain degree of course. Actually I’m more comfortable around strangers than around people I know but not well)


  4. Umm Abdul Rahman Says:

    I think this post was aimed at women who prefer to cover when nursing and is explaining the host’s desire to do so and offering tips based on her experience. I did not take it as a judgement of those who do not feel the need to use a cover.

    I agree that it helps new moms if they have seen others nursing. I was fortunate to have this experience in my group of friends and benefitted from observing my friends nurse their babies before I was a mother myself.

    As somebody who regularly covers most of my body from strangers but who is not uncomfortable seeing another woman nurse without a cover, I feel that nursing moms should see the desire to cover or not a matter of personal choice, women who wish to cover for personal reasons (including religious) should not feel they are abandoning the NIP cause.


  5. Jenni Says:

    I have the undercover mama tanks and I really like them. I have also made my own with some other camis and cutting off the straps and sewing on some plastic clips like the ones on the undercover mama that I found at Hancock fabrics.


  6. Jodi Says:

    I love my undercover mama tank. It is so nice to be able to attached to to any nursing bra. I also recently discovered lilly padz. I am blessed with a baby that sleeps 7-9 hours a night but I was always drenched in the morning. I researched online ways to help my situation and lilly padz were suggested. I bought mine at motherhood maternity but you can get them cheaper online. They are a silicon cup that sticks to your breast and helps to stop a let down. I sleep with them on all night without a bra on and they stay right in place and in the morning I am completely dry with little to no leakage in the pad. This is the best purchase I have made for nursing.


  7. Carrie Says:

    I mostly wear tanks and camis to be more discreet but I recently found something else to use too! I hate when my belly shows while nursing especially when I’m nursing with my son in a carrier so I started using one of the maternity belly bands to cover my tummy. It goes from my jeans to right under my bra and is snug enough to stay out when I lift my shirt. Keeps me just a little cooler than wearing a full tank top.


    • Brooke Says:

      Great idea! I will definitely be keeping this in mind since I`m due in the summer with baby #2. I love that I can reuse something vs buying something else.


  8. Holly Says:

    I love my Undercover tanks! They stay in place very well and they do compress without being uncomfortable or looking tacky. They come in great neutral colors as well as some fun ones too. They make nursing in public very convenient and easy and kept me from having to buy nursing tops as they go under anything!


  9. Amy Says:

    I love this! And thank you for the link to the laws. Right now my favorite “nursing” tank is a regular tank from Old Navy over my nursing bra. The tank is a V neck, which makes pulling my nursing bra down and over the tank a breeze.


  10. Rose Says:

    And what if we are comfortable nursing our baby’s without a cover? Why do we NEED a nursing cover? Why do you feel ashamed of people seeing you feeding your baby? Is there something wrong with a baby getting it’s nutrients from mom?

    I think it’s great that you are for breastfeeding, and that you understand the importance of breastfeeding as a natural process, but I’m saddened by your use of the word modesty, and that you feel you must label mother who nurse without a cover as immodest.
    It’s no wonder north american breastfeeding rates are so low because of these myths that you need to be “modest” and “discreet” while breastfeeding. Women and girls (and even boys and men) NEED to see mothers openly breastfeeding their baby’s so it becomes the cultural norm, and so that when it comes time for the young women and girls to breastfeeding, and the men to support their wives in breastfeeding, they will know what to do, and it will be easier.

    Again, kudos to you for supporting breastfeeding, I just encourage you to change the tone of your article a bit so you do not make mother feel ashamed of NIP without a cover.


    • Molly Says:

      Is there something wrong with trying to be modest when you breastfeed your baby?


    • Mandy Says:

      No matter how comfortable I get nursing in public, I will never be comfortable exposing my back/side/belly in public. I don’t wear bikinis, either. I love the tips for using tanks. I typically use a plain tank that has a stretchy enough neck I can pull down while I pull my main shirt up.

      Also, there is a large spectrum of exposure if you will. Modesty may be at one end, but choosing not to cover does not make you immodest, any more than choosing not to be a Republican does not make you a Communist.


  11. Heather Says:

    I absolutely love that you advocate both for breastfeeding and for modesty! Just saying, it’s nice to have that perspective out there that you can nurse in public and still cover up. Thanks for all the great suggestions!


  12. Amy Says:

    You’ve got to try a Boob Toob, you can find them on Etsy and it is basically an elastic tube of fabric that you nurse under, it provides total discretion and baby can’t kick it off. I love them!!!


  13. Athena Says:

    I LOVE Bravado Tanks! Bra is very supportive and it’s all in one. Worth the $$.


  14. Katy Says:

    I laughed as I read this because camis and cardigans are exactly what I use to stay modest. I leak often and realized quickly that layers were the only way to keep things contained. I’ve tried nursing tanks but prefer a bra and cami because it keeps everything tighter, if that makes sense.
    Now if only God made babies who weren’t interested in pulling down nursing covers….


    • Amy Says:

      God made breasts too, and because their purpose is to feed a baby, I’m pretty sure God isn’t opposed to your cover getting kicked off. Why would God create breastfeeding but consider the breast to be immodest when used for that purpose? I think that would make God a walking contradiction.


  15. Jen Says:

    I really like the Kan-Go wrap from Precious Images. It’s a skin-to-skin baby carrier/sling as well as a nursing cover. They also sell a Miracle Cami that can be used to carry and/or nurse a young baby skin-to-skin. These are products I wish I had known about 3 children ago…but at least I found them for this baby.


  16. Cara Says:

    This was a great post!! I wanted to chime in that I absolutely LOVE the Undercover Mama tanks! The quality is outstanding- the best part is the material stays put, no bunching or sliding up your belly. I also found that wearing them under other tops made me look thinner! They are form fitting and almost “suck” you in because the material is thick, but very comfy. There is nothing worse than having a cold stomach or back when nursing (or worse yet, pumping- since you don’t have a cozy baby to hold!).


  17. Britt Says:

    I love the Bravado brand nursing tanks and bras. The sizes run a bit small so I had to size up but I still love them.


  18. Jen Says:

    I second the Wal-Mart comment. They are actually the best ones I own. I have tried several. I HATE the ones at Motherhood. I feel like they are way too low cut.

    I only have one nursing cover I use, that someone made me, but I always have the diaper bag with me. My husband laughs at me because of it, but there are too many things we need in that sucker!

    Just a question- Have you ever had anyone make a rude comment even when you were using a cover? I recently had this happen & I didn’t know how to respond.

    Also, have you found any warm options for nursing sleepwear? I freeze at night in just a cami but we co-sleep and I don’t want anything loose fitting to pull up when the babe is nursing in bed. I have seen that Hotmilk has a few things that could work, but they are so expensive. I resorted to cutting holes in a snug fitting t-shirt and wearing a bra under it, but I’d sure hate to get caught off guard wearing it! Hahaha


  19. Jill Says:

    I like the target nursing tanks (gillian & something?) better than the walmart ones– can’t get the walmart ones big enough. most have lasted through 2 babies extended bf’ing and wearing nearly year round at that.

    I try not to worry overly much about people staring, but that’s just me. If I think it will be a problem (like you say people standing up in church) then I just escape to the back part where I can still hear. Otherwise I try and do it when I know we’ll all be sitting for 15+ minutes like during the sermon.

    a blanket will do if you can’t afford an expensive cover. Even a prefold or flat would work, too, or a burpcloth draped ‘just so’ over your shoulder.


  20. Rachel Cowle-Healy Says: has some great, affordable nursing tanks! They even have a 2 pack, black and white, I think for $20. I LOVE these! Around the house and to bed I wear just this under a shirt. In public, I use a nursing bra and these camis.


  21. Carmen Says:

    Thanks so much for posting this! I love nursing and I do it when I’m out and about but I normally do it in the car or in a business’ nursing room because I am a pastor’s wife and I feel very self conscious about it! I know on baby #2, it won’t be as easy to stay in the car!


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