For many mothers in the Middle East, breastfeeding in public is an issue because of modesty. In my post on breastfeeding in hijab, I mentioned Muslim women who use nursing covers. In this post I’ll explain what a cover does and how to choose one that is functional, comfortable and “green.”
Usually no one gives a second glance to a nursing mother except to admire the baby, but it takes a while for some mothers to get used to nursing publicly. A mother may decide to cover up to accommodate others, like at a family function. Then there are mothers who don’t want to risk baring skin, and find it easier to cover the baby and their upper body when they are out. Whatever the reason, breastfeeding covers are getting more popular. Breastfeeding covers also help mothers who don’t have a private place to pump their milk when separated from their babies.
Anything that makes a breastfeeding mother more comfortable, and helps her nurse longer, is good for the baby, the mother, and the planet. Breastfeeding uses a minimum of natural resources. With a little extra food and water for mom, and some optional equipment, the baby is good for two years or more, with the addition of table food at about six months. No bottles, formula, or additional water are required.
There are two types of products for discreet nursing: Clothing designed for easy access while preserving modesty, like this nursing abaya with a front zip, and covers that can be worn on top of regular clothing.
Whether you cover up for religious reasons or because it make you less self-conscious, here are some things to look for in a breastfeeding cover.
- Comfort for Baby. Does the baby have eye contact with mom? Are his arms and legs free? Is the fabric soft?
- Ease of use. Is the cover easy to take on or off? Can I reach easily under my shirt while wearing the cover? Does it have snaps or ties that need to be adjusted?
- Modesty. Will it cover the midriff when a shirt is lifted up? Could the baby expose you by pulling off the cover when she gets older?
- Fabric. For the summer, natural, lightweight and light-colored, breathable fabrics are best.
- Pattern. Do you want something neutral and unobtrusive, or a cheerful baby fabric?
- Cost. Simple covers are easy to sew and don’t have to cost a lot, but there is a wide range of prices depending on fabric and style.
- “Green”-ness. Is the cover made locally? Is the fabric recycled, or from a renewable resource? Covers can be bought used, or easily made using fabric on hand.
More green posts by Hannah Katsman: