Normalizing breastfeeding has been such an incredible movement for mamas everywhere who want to be able to nurse wherever and whenever their baby needs them. And while I am all for being able to breastfeed both at home or in public, if I am open and honest I still prefer a private option because… I AM SHY! I wish I was more comfortable sitting out in public and nursing my baby, but I’m just not. I prefer places where I feel comfortable, and those happen to be more quiet and private spaces. Now, I don’t mind if my family or friends end up in a space with me if they want to hang out and chat, but I would still prefer a separate space (or the comfort of my home) versus sitting out on a bench in the mall or at a restaurant table.
Luckily, nowadays, there are plenty of spaces for nursing moms to utilize instead of being uncomfortable in public (like me), or doing it in a bathroom stall or while sitting in the car. In fact, there are so many more choices today than I had 7-9 years ago when nursing my older boys.
If you are an app user, there are a few you can download that actually search for nursing spaces around you. Nursing moms can add locations as they find them, and even rate them too. After doing some research, I ended up downloading Mamava. However, other great options include Moms Pump Here, iBreastfeed, Speedy Tot and Latch ME – just to name a few! Most of these apps show where nursing pods and private spaces are located, which allows me to better plan my day when I am out and about. Even when in an area I am not familiar with. For a traveling mama, this has been such a game changer for me.
As moms, most of us are united in our frequent visits to either Target or the grocery store… or both! For me, my personal go-to spots when I am out doing errands with my baby include Target and Hy-Vee. Most of the updated Targets I’ve been to have converted a dressing room into a nursing mom space, which is also large enough to bring in your stroller. It also has an outlet, USB plug-ins for your pump, and a comfy chair to nurse in.
Recently, I went to the newly opened Hy-Vee in Maple Grove and they had a private nursing room by the restrooms. A nice rocker, TV, sink and changing table gave me all I needed in one space to get my baby fed and changed.
These two are my usual haunts because I know there will be private nursing spaces, but I have found some others around the Twin Cities these past nine months that have been such a great help in my breastfeeding journey this time around:
- Airports: MSP International Airport has a few rooms and semi-private spaces you can access if you need to pump or nurse before a flight. I highly suggest checking out the airports you will be flying through as a layover or final destination as well, if you need a space. Many of the breastfeeding app options will help you search for spaces easily accessible while traveling with our without your baby.
- Shopping Malls: Malls and department stores usually offer baby care or nursing mom lounges. Check in with information stations or the shopping mall website in case some are private and require a key to open.
- Stadiums: I brought Baby Jones to a Twins game this past summer and almost didn’t go because I was so stressed out thinking about feeding him. I was prepared to feed him in the bathroom or beneath a cover if needed, but then happened to remember to check the stadium website and saw they had nursing rooms inside the guest services areas. The space could fit a few mamas and also had a changing area and sink. Not only that, but they even had a TV so you could still follow the game!
- The MN State Fair: Thanks to sponsors at the Fair, there were quite a few options for this nursing mama to find a quiet, private space while visiting with our family last summer. We thought we would last only a few hours with all four kids and the struggles of nursing Baby Jones, but with all of the semi-private and private space options, I was able to nurse him while we walked around the fairgrounds. We ended up lasting the whole day at the fair and it was thanks to these amazing spaces provided for mamas and families.
- Amusement Parks: We have season passes for Valleyfair, and I was happy to learn they also have areas for nursing and pumping mamas. You can checkout the First Aid station to get access to private spaces for nursing moms.
- Work Spaces: I am fortunate that my office has locations designated for nursing moms. I have reserved access throughout the day to be able to pump while I am at work. This has been a game changer for me this time around! With my first child, the room I used to pump in at my previous employer was on a different floor and didn’t even have WiFi. Now, I can bring my laptop with me to the nursing room where I can continue to work while pumping at the same time. On a busy day, it’s so helpful to feel like I’m not missing a beat. On top of this, having a private space to store milk for the day makes it so much easier and comfortable for me.
While I am sure there are many more options out there than what I have listed, the most important thing to remember is that wherever you are – just ask! Every time I have asked for a space to nurse or pump, I have only been met with helpfulness and kindness.
My nursing journey this time around has been so different compared to with my other kids. I truly believe that the mamas who are out there normalizing breastfeeding are a big piece of that. When I nurse my baby, it’s Mommy time. I feel as though there is a different bond and connection we experience during this time. For me, doing that in a more quiet and private space is where I enjoy it the most. Being able to breastfeed my son is something I am lucky to be able to do, and thanks to the new resources and mamas speaking out on breastfeeding, I have the choice to use a space made just for us.