If I hadn’t been with my husband that day who confirmed her existence, I wouldn’t have believed I had seen her with my own eyes. A mom, perfectly primped, standing on the corner, with a small infant in her arms, nursing cover on, nursing her baby, and to top it all off, hailing a cab all at the same time.
“She is all I will never be,” I thought to myself over my lukewarm coffee when I got home. “She was even in heels!” I went and put on heels just to prove that I could still wear them. I couldn’t. I re-warmed my coffee in the microwave and then, because all moms are fighting the good fight in our own ways, I moved on with my life, but not without first pondering all the places I have nursed in public*.
I want to share some hard facts about my nursing journey before going on. First, I never got the hang of breastfeeding with a cover, nor was I particularly internally motivated to do so. My son hated eating under a blanket as much as I would, and thus that part of nursing and I never swiped right on each other. Second, I don’t actually have a personal story about being confronted, made uncomfortable or shamed and told to stop feeding my baby in public**. Call it luck, call it “hopefully a sign people are becoming better humans,” but I would fight tooth (literally tooth, because we’re talking about nursing here) and nail for the right for any woman to be as lucky as I was in my nursing adventures. Third–and probably most importantly–I went into nursing knowing my rights on nursing in public. Illinois is on the forefront of breastfeeding protection legislation and knowing that I was legally allowed to breastfeed any place I am legally allowed to be, without harassment, gave me a lot of confidence in my feeding-my-baby-in-public adventures.
However, knowing that I am allowed to breastfeed in any public or private location of my choice and being comfortable while doing so are two entirely different–and possibly competing–notions. Just because I refuse to breastfeed in a bathroom (Who wants to eat in the bathroom? Exactly. Nobody, that’s who.) doesn’t mean I don’t want to hedge my bets on finding comfortable nursing-conducive locations. As such, here’s a roundup of some of the most nursing-friendly locations in Chicago, taken from personal experience.
Just what we needed, yet another reason to go spend time in Target as a parent. Target has recently made waves in the parent world by making their toy aisles gender neutral and then by initiating a policy to help nursing moms feel comfortable. Some policy highlights include:
-Never approach a nursing mother
-Offer a mother a dressing room in which to nurse if she requests one, and never the restroom, even if there is a line at the dressing room.
Bonus: Target often has comfortable rocking chairs on display in the baby section. Just saying, is all.
O’Hare Nursing Station
Traveling for Thanksgiving? Godspeed on your adventures. Luckily, O’Hare now has a nursing room complete with comfortable chairs and a wash station in Terminal 3. This might just make up for the fact that you are about to travel on the most traveled day of the year with a nursing baby in tow.
Again, godspeed on your adventures. Been there, done that, sister-friend.
Buy Buy Baby
Buy Buy Baby has a nursing room, complete with locking door if you’re still nervous about the public nursing shebang, comfortable rocking chairs, and a changing table.
This is especially helpful during those first few months when nursing takes, well, forever, and you’re probably needing something you had no idea you needed from Buy Buy Baby anyway.
Doing some holiday shopping? Whether you’re a last minute shopper or checking off the last gifts on your list before Thanksgiving (Who are you? Can you teach me your ways?) Nordstrom has comfortable and private women’s lounges where you can nurse and master some quiet peace in the middle of a hectic season.
At the Michigan Avenue location there is a nursing lounge on the 4th floor.
Family in town and want to see the sights, but worry about places to nurse in the hustle and bustle of The Loop? The Art Institute has a fantastic family room where older kids can play and be entertained while you can nurse as well. Consider this a safe nursing haven in the art world.
Almost all the museums have helpful places for you to go while nursing, the Children’s Museum being equally notable for this as well.
Remember, you have a right to nurse anywhere you are legally allowed to be, and harassment while you do so is not only unacceptable by basic human standards, but by the law as well. So go forth and go confidently knowing you can find a comfortable and safe place to nurse however you choose: with or without a cover, in a private room or in public, and knowing you never have to accept the idea of feeding your baby in a disgusting bathroom.
Do you have any top tips on places to nurse in Chicago? Tell us below in the comments!
*Author’s note: popular message board acronyms note nursing in public as “NIP” or “NIP-ing.” This author refuses to utilize this because she can’t handle one more bad pun in her life she didn’t come up with herself.
**Unlike one of my besties in North Carolina, whose husband’s uncle was so offended by her feeding her son at a football tailgate he wrote an op-ed in his local newspaper offering her “better” solutions such as the port-o-john (because who doesn’t love eating in a plastic portable drop toilet?) or perhaps going shirtless in all his resplendent magnificence (clarification in case my sarcasm isn’t clear: this would be literally the exact opposite of resplendent and magnificent) so that my friend might have a nursing cover. That is to say, these bad experiences still happen, they just never happened to me personally.