How can I, as a Muslim woman, think about nursing in public?

Public breastfeeding is a hang-up that our sisters from some parts of Asia do not have. It is not uncommon to see women publicly breastfeeding throughout the Muslim world. If there is any group of women that has successfully combined public modesty with public breastfeeding, it is Muslim women. Just because you are a Muslim woman, or a nursing mother, does not mean that you are tied to your house for as long as your child nurses! With a few modifications and practice, you will find that you are soon nursing in public like a pro — discreetly and modestly.

The first thing you are going to want to do is evaluate your wardrobe. Jumpers, dresses, thobes, and other items which do not open in the front will no longer be practical, unless you can adapt them for nursing by adding slits to them. Two piece outfits, abayas, and jilbabs which open easily will be the easiest thing to wear. There are some jilbabs which have an extra panel over the chest. You can probably cut a nursing slit right under this flap and pin it or sew buttons onto it, without completely wrecking the style of the jilbab.

If you do not already, you may also want to consider wearing 60″x60″ scarves, or a cape-style khimar (the 2-piece style which comes down to at least the wrist). I was never a fan of this style of khimar, but as a nursing mother, I have discovered that it is the easiest style to wear, and allows me to nurse discreetly. You do not have to worry about it sliding off, unlike a blanket that you toss over the baby. I have also noticed that you can now find these khimars in colors other than black and white, and sometimes with pretty designs at the hem (although I’ve yet to see any that aren’t in a solid color). I myself own several, including grey, burgundy, and lavender. With a cape style khimar, no one will be able to see if you leak milk onto your clothes (as so often happens in the early weeks). Also, with the cape style khimar, you can leave your jilbab unbuttoned at the top, allowing for less hassle when baby wants to nurse while you are out and about. And hey– all you sewing sisters out there! You can design your own cape-khimars in prints and various fabrics.

Finally, if you still feel a little shaky, try “practicing” in front of a mirror, your husband, or someone else. Have them walk about you and look at you from various angles, and point out if anything is showing. When you do go out in public, and you are getting ready to nurse your child, look at something other than the baby. If you are looking down and fumbling with the baby, other people’s eyes will be drawn to this area of your body.

Source: Modern Muslima – http://www.modernmuslima.com/bffaq.htm

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