A resource to inspire, inform and empower parents.

What To Do When Your Family Asks You To Cover Up When You’re Breastfeeding

Guest post by Lindsay White, Owner of The Little Milk Bar

Breastfeeding isn’t easy. In fact, it might be one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. From the cluster feeds, to the all nighters, to the “no break” days… your baby literally depends on you for life. 

And whether you’re able to make it 3 weeks, 3 months or 3 years… support plays a major role in the success of your breastfeeding journey.

And we expect our closest family and friends to be right there by our side right? To stand up for us if we get a snarky comment from a stranger while breastfeeding in the park. But what if they’re not supportive?

We’ve all got an uncle Tom, old fashioned mom or aunt Kim who thinks breastfeeding in public is a big no no. 

My name is Lindsay, owner of The Little Milk Bar. A brand that empowers breastfeeding moms everywhere. And today I’m sharing what to do when your family asks you to cover up or to go to another room “and do that”.

P.S. I’m all about supporting all breastfeeding mamas, because let’s face it… we could all use a little encouragement. So I have 3 FREE “Thank you for breastfeeding in public” downloadable cards that I hope you print off, keep in your diaper bag and hand out to every breastfeeding mama you see. You can download them HERE.

Here’s a few things that might help you next time your mother in law tells you to cover up.

Know your rights

First off, it’s important that you know your rights. In 2018, the last two remaining states, Utah and Idaho, changed their laws to protect breastfeeding mothers.  

It’s your legal right to breastfeed your baby in public, with or without a cover, in all 50 states. You absolutely do not have to reach for a cover, or go to your car, to feed your baby just because your cousin Amber asked you to. 

Talk to your partner beforehand

Let them have your back. Hey, they’re not the one breastfeeding your baby, they can’t read your mind. It probably hasn’t even crossed their mind that your palms start to sweat every time your baby gets hungry at family get togethers. So tell them, be up front.

“Hey I’m still a little nervous to feed in front of your family, will you make sure to sit with me when the baby gets hungry?” It could be as simple as that.

Give your partner the opportunity to be there for you before you even need it. I don’t know why, but when my husband was sitting with me, I never had uncle Tom say a word to me. Maybe because it gives off the “lion defending his cubs” vibe that no one wanted to interrupt. 

Focus on you and your baby.

It’s important to ignore everyone around you. Focus only on you and your baby. It’s simple… your baby is hungry and you need to feed him. That’s it, there’s nothing else to it. Don’t worry if you’re “offending anyone”, their opinion doesn’t (and shouldn’t) matter. 

Your baby comes before anyone else and filling that little belly of theirs should be the only thing you’re worried about.

Use your voice

So your mother in law had the audacity to walk over to you, hand you a blanket and tell you to cover up while “doing that”. Ugh, I know… so rude. Try not to judge her. She grew up in a different time and is obviously not educated enough in the subject. 

Instead of responding with the come back you’ve gone over and over again in your head for weeks, keep the peace while standing your ground. 

“No thanks, we’re comfortable where we are”….

Or “Thanks, but we don’t use a cover. We’re pretty comfortable without it and Allie hates when I cover her when she’s trying to eat.” 

Or “My baby’s comfort comes before anyone else’s. Breastfeeding is 100% natural and I just need to make sure she gets fed right now. But thanks for the blanket, her feet were getting cold.”

Or you can do what I did the first time my mother-in-law handed me a blanket while I was feeding my son Koda (in my own home). I smiled, grabbed it and laid it on the couch next to me, while continuing on with my conversation. This was my usual reaction… until I found my own voice. 

To all the women who feel empowered to feed their baby already and have no problem standing up for themselves… all the freaking power to you. I couldn’t love you more.

But for those of you who haven’t found your voice yet, who don’t yet have that confidence, that’s okay too. Sometimes a simple smile and setting the blanket down, instead of using it to cover yourself, is your own empowering moment. It’s you burning your bra in the middle of the street for everyone to see. High five!

Try the 2-shirt method

If you haven’t already heard of the 2-shirt method… be prepared for it to change your life! No joke. It’ll save you a TON on “breastfeeding friendly” clothes… spoiler, you don’t need any. And it makes it SUPER easy to feed in public (or around uncle Tom), keeping your tummy and breasts covered while your babe eats with ease. So YOU feel more comfortable. Because no one else’s comfort level matters, except you and your baby’s.  

If you don’t know what the 2-shirt method is, I made a video for you 😉

They say the more you see of something, the more normal it becomes. You might find the more you feed in front of your family, the more supportive they’ll become. Eventually they’ll stop handing you the cover. Sometimes, they just need a little nudge in the right direction.

When I first started feeding in public around my mom, she would constantly hand me the cover, or tell me I should probably go to the bathroom and do that. But every time I’d turn her down… and now, it doesn’t even faze her. In fact, the more she saw me feeding in public, the more she started to support other moms feeding in public.

With the Holidays right around the corner, my hope is that you don’t isolate yourself. Breastfeeding is already hard, feeling alone can make it so much worse. Instead of excusing yourself from the dinner table to go feed in a “private” room because you feel you need to… feed right there at the dinner table (unless you want a little break).

Instead of missing out of family games and fun conversations… feed right there on the couch while joining your friends and family. (You can checkout this post for more tips on breastfeeding through the Holidays)

I’d love to hear any experiences you’ve had with family and breastfeeding in public… whether it was good or bad. Comment below.

“Use your voice even if it shakes… we have your back.”

P.S. Don’t forget to get your free downloadable “thank you for breastfeeding in public cards” here.


Owner | Boobs Director

The Little Milk Bar (home of the Milk Maker tee)