Or, how to nurse your baby and still have a life.
Contrary to popular belief, breastfeeding—once you get the hang of it—is the easiest way to nourish your baby.
It's also the healthiest, proven to reduce many childhood illnesses (including ear infections) and health threats in later life (obesity, to name just one).
You also save time and money because you don't have to buy and prepare formula, which can cost up to $1,200 a year.
But how can you breastfeed and still have a life? What if you want to go out to dinner or have to travel? What if you go back to work? We'll show you.
Nursing in Public
This can feel unwieldy the first few times you do it, but after having to feed your baby in the ladies' room while everyone else is enjoying their meal, you get it. The secret is to wear the right clothes; a loose pullover or nursing top is best. Also practice at home or another "safe" place before you venture out.
Here's how to do it: Hold your baby with one hand, use the other to unhook your bra, then lift up your top and go for it. If you want to be more discreet, drape a light blanket or specially designed breastfeeding cover-up over your nursing baby. Be prepared: You might get reactions, even from friends. But the more relaxed and casual you can be, the sooner everyone around you will get used to it.
TIP: Maintain eye contact with whomever you're talking to; they'll be more likely to look at you rather than your breast.
Flying across the country with your baby to visit your in-laws? Leaving her at home during a work trip? Here are some tips:
With the baby: Nurse during takeoff and landing to reduce pressure in your baby's ears. Be sure to wear your easy-access clothes (dresses do not work). Request a window seat so you have a bit more privacy.
Without the baby: Become a member of the other Mile-High Club: pumping moms. Make sure you have a good breast pump, preferably one with a battery-power option, then head to the bathroom when your breasts feel full. In a pinch, you can also pump at your seat under a blanket. At airports or conferences, go to the nursing lounge.
TIP: After pumping, date each bottle and get it cold as soon as possible. Never, ever put it in your checked baggage; luggage gets lost.
Going Back to Work
Planning to return to work and keep breastfeeding your baby? Good for you! It's perfectly doable; all you need is a good breast pump and a private place at work to pump. Try to build up at least one week's supply of milk in the freezer before heading back to the office.
TIP: Make sure your baby is accustomed to taking a bottle. Too many moms have found out the hard way that springing one on a baby at the last minute just doesn't work.