Many Muslimahs worry about breastfeeding in public because they feel that they may accidentally expose themselves to strangers. While maintaining our modesty and protecting our awrah are important, breastfeeding should not be viewed as a hindrance that prevents us from enjoying time outside the home. I can recall being stressed-out many times because I could not find a private place to hide and nurse my crying baby. As the dreadful and embarrassing situation escalated, I often resorted to breastfeeding in a filthy public restroom stall. However, as I have matured into motherhood, I have learned that these events could have been prevented by preparing myself to breastfeed in public. Allah (swt) has provided us with many products that help one to discreetly nurse in public. Nursing covers have become a convenient way that mothers maintain privacy outside the home. They are also great to use with family and friends who may come to visit your home and when pumping at work. Though I am currently breastfeeding my third child, I have never owned a nursing cover because they are not easily available in local stores. However, there are many different styles and designs of nursing covers online. I recently stumbled upon an awesome nursing cover called Covillow that is a nursing cover and support pillow in one. What makes it preferable for Muslimahs is that it covers the front, back and both sides of the nursing mother, unlike most commercial nursing covers. Here are some things to consider when choosing a nursing cover that works best for you and your baby:
- Style There are generally three designs. The most popular style has a boned-open,rigid neckline that allows you to look at your baby as she latches on and nurses. These also provide great ventilation for baby. The second category of nursing covers are shawls/scarves that are free flowing, lightweight and conveniently drape over your body like a poncho. These are usually easiest to tote in a bag or can be worn around your neck. My favorite is the Pashmama by Jolly Jumper.
The third style, is really a group of covers that are unique-by design. These do not fit into the other categories but are special in their own way.
- Cost Nursing Covers generally range from $10 to $40. Sometimes, you get what you pay for. So, invest wisely. If you would rather make one yourself, there are many free tutorials online. Here is my favorite one that requires sewing one line. You could also use a khimar as a nursing cover.
- Convenience Choose a nursing cover that can be easily rolled or folded to fit into your purse. The most convenient option is nursing shawls/scarves which can be worn around the neck or as a top and can be put on in a jiffy.
- Comfort Choose a fabric that is soft and lightweight such as cotton. Avoid covers with a high percentage of polyester.
- Color A dark nursing cover may make you and your baby uncomfortable in warm weather. Make sure your fabric is opaque, and choose light to medium colors that would easily compliment anything you wear.
- Coverage Most nursing covers only drape over the front of your body like an apron. While this is generally sufficient, some mothers may prefer a cover that provides full coverage of the top of the body like shawls, scarves or ponchos. If you’d rather not have that style, the Covillow and Boobtoob are options.
- Function Some covers are multi-purpose and can be used as a car seat cover, swaddle blanket, stroller cover and/or changing mat. Some can even be worn as a cardigan for mama.
- Durability If your are always on the go, choose a cover that will last with time and will be easy to clean. Most covers are machine washable.
- Baby Activtiy & Sensitivity If you have a baby will be bothered by the cover touching them or who likes to peek while nursing, a shawl or poncho would work best for you. If you have a small baby, or one who won’t be distracted, most styles would work for you.