I was going to start this post by discussing the controversy surrounding NIP, but I don't think I'm going to do that. I want to focus on the actual how-to of NIP to help new moms become comfortable and confident while out and about with their precious little babes.
First, dress for success.
There's no reason to spend lots of money on special "nursing" clothes. Anything will do, it just depends on your level of modesty. I, personally, am not comfortable wearing a regular t-shirt and pulling it up to expose my whole post baby body. I prefer to pull down from the top instead.
In the cold months, I like to layer a stretchy tank or a nursing tank under a loose blouse. That way I can reach inside, unclip my nursing bra or tank, pull that down to expose boob and pull up the blouse to latch on baby. This is by far your most discreet method of NIP. Once baby is on you can adjust the top blouse to keep exposed boob to a minimum and baby covers the rest. And if you wear the same color tank/blouse (black on black, etc) everyone will assume baby is asleep in your arms. I can't tell you how many times people have said "awe, is he asleep?" When I say "no, he's eating" they don't believe me! LOL
In the Midwest, layers in summer are just not an option. (Unless you enjoy being a walking talking wet sauna) there are a variety of other clothing options for easy NIP that don't require layers. My favorite right now is the peasant blouse. You know, a modern twist on that iconic hippie blouse that our moms used to wear! The super stretchy elastic collars give fast and comfortable access to just one breast at a time. Just grab and pull. =) I have them in 3/4 sleeves, cap sleeves and sleeveless.
Another option of course is buttons. Either a full button down or a 5 button style give you the opening you need to pull the boob out of the shirt. I wear a basic 5 button polo shirt at work each day for my nursing at work uniform. I choose one that had 5% spandex to give me a better stretch. I found that 3 button shirts don't typically come down low enough for me to get the boob out successfully.
My shopping technique nowadays consists of a quick tug on the collar to see if it stretches. Looks can be deceiving. I recently found a super cute top that has a full stretchy neckline without any visible elastic. =) whatever you find that works for you, I recommend buying multiple of the same shirt in every color they offer. I have a top that is perfect, I love it, I went back to buy more but they had stopped selling that shirt. =( sigh
Bring a few essentials
Okay. Once your dressed for success you need to make sure you have some essentials to help you while away from home. Depending on your skill and comfort level, you may or may not want to/be able to walk and nurse. In the beginning, I was all thumbs when it came to nursing my son. I was awkward and clumsy and not very graceful about any of it. My only option was to sit down and devote my whole attention to the task at hand (or boob I guess)
My constant traveling companion was the Travel Boppy. A zipper closed version of my nursing pillow with a carry strap. That thing stayed in the trunk of my car 24/7. I took it in the mall, to my folks house, my in laws, doctors office, etc. I eventually grew out of that, but man, it was nice having it when I needed out.
You'll also want to make sure you've got extra nursing pads to change out your wet ones. You've got to keep those nipples dry!
A burp cloth or receiving blanket is a must for cleaning up dribbles, drools, spit up and any accidental milk that may shoot forth during an unexpected unlatching.
Nursing covers. Hmmm. Another topic of heated debate. To cover or not to cover, that is a choice only you can make. I chose to cover in the early months. Not for anyone else's comfort but my own. Like I said, I was clumsy and awkward and I felt I could concentrate better on feeding my baby if I wasn't distracted by my own self consciousness. So yes, I covered. I tried several different nursing covers until I found one I liked. It was the UdderCover that you can order online. I liked the light weight material so we didn't get stuffy, the collar stood out very well so I could see my babe in action and it folded up nicely for diaper bag storage. T man was about 15 weeks old when I decided that I was ready to go without and we've never covered since.
***I want to say now that you DO NOT have to cover. Ever! You have every right to nurse your hungry, sleepy, cranky, frightened, teething, whatever baby absolutely anywhere at anytime. No one can tell you to stop. No one can tell you to leave. No one can tell you to cover or relocate to a different room. NO ONE! You are protected by state and federal laws. These laws come before any "store policy" or personal opinions. Do not let ANYONE bully you.***
Where to nurse
Anywhere! :-) okay, that doesn't help much. Here's a few tips for nursing openly while still getting "used to it".
Go to the baby aisle. Wether it's the grocery store, the pharmacy ora department store, they probably have a baby aisle. Go stand in it. No one who's shopping in the baby aisle should care if you're nursing a baby.
Go to the feminine products aisle =) you won't see many men lingering around that aisle, and if they are, they're getting out as fast as they can LOL
Go to the lingerie department. Again, all women, no men.
Need to sit down? No problem. Is there a bench by the customer service counter? Sit on it. Patio furniture in the lawn and garden section? Sit on it. Furniture in the home decor department? Sit on it. At the pharmacy or grocery store? They probably have a blood pressure machine. Sit on it! :-) remember. They can not ask you to leave. They can not ask you to stop. If they don't have it posted saying "do not sit" then you can sit down wherever you need to.
NIP is one of the most liberating and empowering things you can do for yourself. Take control of your body and take care of your baby. You are an amazing and awesome woman. You are a mom!