If you’re new to breastfeeding, or even if you’re not, you may have pondered the question of ‘to cover or not?’ The answer is, “It’s up to you,” and there’s no law that says you have to. Still, if you’re looking for the best nursing covers for your own comfort levels and needs, we’ve checked several out and think there’s sure to be one that’s just right for you.
The Best Nursing Covers: Do I Even Need One?
In one word? No, you do not *need* a nursing cover. The National Conference of State Legislature states that every one of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands have laws that specifically mandate women area able to breastfeed in any private or public location. None of those laws specifically address a mother covering herself, though 31 states, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and DC do exempt breastfeeding from public indecency laws: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
We have to sort of wonder what the heck the other 19 states are thinking, but regardless, no, you don’t need a nursing cover.
But, that doesn’t mean you may not want one. You get to decide your comfort level and what you feel most comfortable doing when it comes to nursing your little one.
And honestly? While we all pretty much agree that there’s nothing easier than just whipping your bra open and feeding baby anywhere, any time, the reality is that for some women, a nursing cover makes them feel more confident and secure in their nursing. Sometimes you just don’t want to deal with people. (Can we get an amen?) Sometimes, baby’s bobbing and you just want to take the distraction of other people away so she can just get the job done. Sometimes it’s your own modesty and comfort level.
No matter the reasoning, it really is all about you and baby bonding and feeling comfortable together in the process. Some mamas nurse with and without covers, depending on their situations, and again, whatever is best for you is best when it comes to breastfeeding. Honestly? A lot of mamas want nursing covers in the beginning days of nursing their new little ones because they too are just figuring the whole nursing thing out, and it makes it less awkward for mamas to fumble in their own space and place.
The bottom line is that nursing mamas need whatever support they need or want to make breastfeeding easier and more enjoyable for them. Too often, the hard parts of breastfeeding are sort of swept under the rug, and new mamas feel like failures because nursing being natural doesn’t mean it’s easy.
When Registered Nurse and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant Krystal Duhaney returned to work after her second child, she struggled with her milk supply. She saw there were very few resources for mamas in the same situation, and even fewer that would support women of color. She knew she couldn’t be the only mama feeling isolated with not knowing how to increase her milk supply, and she created Milky Mama–developing a milk-making cookie recipe that increased her milk supply, but also put her on a path to help all mamas feel supported and encouraged in their breastfeeding journey. As a black lactation consultant, she has a special place in her heart to help support other black mamas, and her goal of helping all mamas, in general, helped her create a village of support. Krystal knows what just a little bit of encouragement can do when it comes to helping a mama in her nursing journey, and her entire Milky Mama product line empowers mamas with physical and emotional support.
That’s exactly how the incredible Mama team behind Amma feels. When co-founders Emily Baldoni and Satya Twena were discussing the name of their company, they chose AMMA because it means ‘mother.’ They’re the co-creators of the Cocoon, a wearable nursing cover, and they believe that an internal fire fueling fierce love for her child is born when a mother gives birth and her mama spirit begins driving. Within their company, they too wanted to build a sacred cocoon for themselves and for mamas all over the world, with encouragement for every mama every step of the way. They know that the breastfeeding journey for mamas is best done when supported and covered with love and communal support.
What Might You Use Instead Of A Nursing Cover?
The obvious answer is nothing! Many mamas don’t use nursing covers when feeding their babies and that’s totally cool. For mamas in our forums, those who didn’t use nursing covers often instead chose specific tops that made it easier for them to nurse with some privacy still. For many mamas, the worry about wanting some privacy or modesty for her and her baby is exemplified when they rely on a nursing cover and baby’s hungry without one nearby. That’s the main reason mamas might choose nursing shirts over the best nursing covers.
Some Mama Favorites are as follows:
- Camisoles. Camisoles are pretty much the choice of many nursing mamas, particularly in warmer months because they are an easy to add a layer to a piece of clothing that you want to wear that doesn’t have nursing friendly features, but they’re also often just fine to wear around by themselves. Organic cotton camies like these a are super soft and breathable and make a natural choice for a mom who wants to be able to nurse her baby with some privacy but without a separate piece of clothing or flaps that can make wearing a cami awkward and uncomfortable.
- Organic Tees. Another super popular option for mamas who don’t choose nursing covers are basic teeshirts that can be worn all the time and just about anywhere. They’re great for wearing throughout pregnancy with their organic stretchy and soft feel, and they don’t look like an overt nursing shirt, so they’re also great for just having a one-snap stop when it comes to nursing your baby. They come in an assortment of colors and mamas swear by them.
- Comfortable Long Sleeve Tee. Boob Design makes these easy-to-access nursing shirts and tees for mamas who are nursing, and they look very much like a traditional nursing shirt. They have lots of colors, are very soft and though they do have the tell-tale nursing flap that’s more obvious, mamas say they make nursing anywhere super easy and not hot for baby at all.
- Classic Tees. Another Mama favorite from Boob Design is this simple and classic short-sleeved tee shirt that has pull-down access for baby to get to mama’s milk. It’s a traditional flap-over shirt where you can lift the outer layer or pull-down, while the second layer underneath maintains you keep your midsection covered when nursing.
- Double-Layer Tanks. For some mamas, the privacy of a double-layer shirt is just what they want, but they want something that’s a little more fashionable and a little less…well, matronly. That’s why double-layer fashion tanks like this one from Majamas is an adorable way to pair with jeans or a cute skirt and still offer mama the privacy and security she’s looking for in a nursing shirt.
- Single-layer Tanks. Speaking of tanks, a lot of mamas loved the concept of PACT’s soft flowy tanks. They can be worn with camisoles underneath so you can easily nurse your babe, and because it’s not technically a nursing top, mamas like having something that can be used once their nursing days are done. For many mamas, though this type of tank is very similar to what find in some of the newest, coolest and best nursing covers, simply being a ‘shirt’ and not a nursing cover makes a difference.
What To Look For In The Best Nursing Covers
We’re all about “To each, their own,” though, as we believe we know what’s best for our families and our children. The thing is, we believe that nursing covers are definitely more fashionable and in style than those huge, bulky tents that mamas and babies used to be covered in. If you believe a nursing cover is more your style because you don’t want what you’re wearing to scream that you’re nursing your baby, or you don’t want to have the tell-tale double layer, a nursing cover might be for you.
But what should you look for in the best nursing covers? There are so many out on the market now, and there are so many different features and types of nursing covers. How do you choose?
Most importantly, look for something that YOU feel comfortable having and using. Look for what you feel the most comfortable with and that is super easy for YOU to adjust and use. It might feel like the worst thing in the world to be a new, nursing mom who has a hungry babe, and there you are fumbling around with a hard-to-use nursing cover. If you’re choosing a nursing cover for your confidence level, then you’ll want the coverage you want, and the ease baby needs to eat when she NEEDS to eat.
Make sure you find something that is breathable–think about eating your breakfast, lunch and dinner under the sheets in your bed. While that’s not exactly what’s going on for baby, of course, it’s not far off, so be sure the material used is soft, breathable and something you both like the feel of.
Also make-sure it’s easy to keep clean. No mama has time to deal with a persnickety nursing cover that needs the DIVA treatment to clean every drop of spit-up and breast milk off. As if they even wanted to.
What Are The Most Common Types Of Nursing Covers?
As we said, gone are the days where a baby blanket was essentially the standard nursing cover (though it’s completely cool if that’s what you do). Now, there are a handful of styles and fashions, and different mamas choose different styles for different reasons. The three most common nursing cover styles are:
- Wearable covers are huge hits with mamas these days because they make it easy to nurse baby anytime, anywhere, without worrying about digging a nursing cover-up every time baby wants to eat. Examples of wearable nursing covers are scarves, shawls and ponchos that you wear as you’d wear any other item of clothing, but transform when it’s time to feed baby. Infinity scarves are HUGELY popular as wearable nursing covers because they’re so versatile as fashion accessories anyway. The thing about them, though, is that sometimes they make it hard to see baby as he’s eating and if you’re looking to use one to cover as you pump? It’s not necessarily the best coverage for doing so. Ponchos cover your back when you’re nursing, and babies can’t push them off easily when they get a bit older. They’re better for pumping than an Infinity scarf would be. But, they can be hot–for you and baby, so consider material too.
- Apron-style covers are named as such because they basically work as an apron would. You slip it over your neck like you would an apron, and the cover drapes over your chest and likely stomach to cover baby as she’s nursing. Unlike aprons, they don’t have waist ties, but some mamas liken an apron-style cover to the lobster bib you might eat at your local seafood place. Totally does the job. slip over your neck and drape over your chest and stomach — imagine an apron without a waist tie. The thing about apron covers is that baby eventually gets to where she pushes them off and you’ve defeated a purpose. They are good for mamas who hands-free pump, too.
- Convertible covers are usually used for a multitude of other things–as a high chair cover, a shopping cart cover, a blanket…just about anything you need it to be as well as a nursing cover when baby needs to eat. Some mamas love the multiple purpose feature while others want nursing covers more specific to their individual needs. Again, it’s what you feel best about.
The Best Nursing Covers For Breastfeeding Mamas
The story behind The Cocoon is one that we love. Made with organic knit, and locally made in Los Angeles, the Cocoon was really born when actor Justin Baldoni’s mom Sharon designed it to use with Justin when she nursed him–over 30 years ago. When Justin’s wife Emily (also an actor) gave birth to their first child, Emily had a hard time finding something she felt comfortable with when nursing in public. She didn’t love the way anything looked and she certainly didn’t want her gorgeous babe overheating. Grandma Sharon pulled the original Cocoon out and Emily wore it everywhere–garnering compliments all the time because it was a gorgeous piece of clothing that doubled as a nursing cover. Emily has worn it to playdates and movie premiers alike, and found it so popular that she teamed with incredibly talented Satya Twena to redesign it and make the Cocoon a gorgeous part of mama’s wardrobe and nursing attire.
This 100% organic, ethically sourced and responsibly created infinity scarf was created by Mama Adrian Layne who wanted to create beautiful products that made an impact on the world. Her company has a heart for mamas and children, and monthly donations provide 35 children in a Children’s Home Orphanage in Umbergaon, Gujarat, India with proper nutrition, clean water and shelter. The gorgeous colors will complement mom’s outfit while also giving some instant privacy for her little one, and we can’t help but love a mama who believes we all have the responsibility of parenting the children of our world.