January 21, 2014

Nursing Cover DIY

Before I got pregnant I knew that breastfeeding was important to me. I know there are circumstances in which women have trouble maintaining breastfeeding for an extended amount of time, but I was determined to try whatever it would take to make breastfeeding a priority. I had a list of resources and names to call if breastfeeding proved to be challenging. I had no idea how much work would be involved! I truly believe it is a full-time job those first few weeks. Between latching, milk supply, fore-milk and hind-milk, food intolerance, let-down... there is a lot to figure out. I contacted 4 different moms, talked to the pediatrician and my midwife, and called a lactation consultant all in the first 5 weeks when issues came up. Their input gave me confidence that I was doing the right thing and that my body was designed to provide the right amount of food for my baby.

I love the sounds and squeaks Genevieve makes and her expression when she first latches. She is so cuddly and sweet. There are many 2am-feedings where all I want to do is sleep, but I choose to remember what so many moms told me when I was pregnant. They all look back with such fondness to that special time they had with their child when everyone else was asleep. I also love that my body provides food for my child. Not only as a means of saving money but it's like a specially designed meal for Genevieve. And I've said it before, I love the intimacy it creates with my daughter. Though there are some challenges, it is worth it all.
Once I got a hang of breastfeeding, I was less intimidated by the idea of feeding in public. But there is still such a stigma about it. It was probably week 2 that I was out shopping with my mom and sister. It was lunchtime and Genevieve was getting hungry and so were we. It was the first time that I had to feed Genevieve in public and I didn't know where to do that. In the car? Bathroom? I hated those ideas. So we found a back booth at a sushi restaurant where I felt like I could be discreet. I certainly didn't feel awkward, I just didn't want to make other people feel uncomfortable. After giving birth it was amazing how my breasts became a means of feeding my child. But in our unhealthily sexual culture, public breastfeeding is frowned upon. I was so paranoid that someone was going to make me leave the restaurant or reprimand me.

This comic made me laugh, because it is so true:
It is sad that women feel uncomfortable with feeding their child. Breastfeeding is hard enough. The last thing women need is another obstacle making it more challenging. I was so thrilled to hear the latest news about the Pope praising breastfeeding. He said about breastfeeding in the Sistine Chapel, "If they are hungry, mothers, let them eat, no worries, because here, they are the main focus." 
But this isn't really a post about whether or not people should breastfeed. There is enough of that information going around. (You can read 'why breast is best' here and here). 

This is more about how to make feeding in public more doable. Because I am so determined to exclusively breastfeed until Genevieve is 6 months old (when I will stop feeding is not yet determined), I decided to make a nursing cover. When I was pregnant I didn't really think one of these was necessary because I could just use a blanket or burp cloth, but that proved to be cumbersome as I tried to maneuver the baby and blanket with a level of discretion. I borrowed a friend's cover and it made a world of a difference! I was not about to pay $30-40, so I decided to make one. It was so easy!

At other people's houses, parks, restaurants, you name it - I bring this with me and I feel comfortable feeding my baby in public. The best part about this cover is that you can see the baby while still being modest because it is designed with plastic boning. This is a simple project that took me about an hour to make.

Nursing Cover DIY
-1 yard of fabric - I used 100% cotton and a bright design from one of my favorite designers - Anna Maria Horner.
-Two D-rings - I used 1 1/4 inch
-1/2 a yard of corset boning - you can get this at a fabric store like JoAnns or Hobby Lobby. It also comes in a variety of stiffness. Mine was 1/4 inch wide.  
-Sewing Machine
-Rotary cutter and board - if you don't have these, you can use a ruler and scissors.
1. Cut the fabric 26 x 38 inches. This will make your finished product 24 x 36 after seam allowance.
2. With the excess material, cut 2 strips for the neck straps. 30 x 3 inches and 10 x 3 inches
3. Fold each strip in half (hot dog style) with the good sides touching.
4. Sew the long edge together on each strip
5. Turn the tube of fabric inside out. This can be tricky. Using a pencil can help or attaching a safety pin to one end as you push the fabric through. 
6. With the longer strip of fabric, attach both D rings. I did this by folding one end over the rings.
7. Take the shorter strip and fold one end - sewing it like a triangle (See below). The raw ends of the the strips will be sewn into the hem so you do not need to finish those.
8. Now take your big piece of fabric and hem 3 sides - the sides and bottom of the cover.
9. Take the top of the cover and fold it over pining one strap about 10 inches from the corner. I tucked the raw end under the hem.
10. Sew the hem and strap in.
11. Now take your boning and pin under the hem starting after the strap.
12. Sew the boning into the cover.
13. Complete the cover by attaching the second strap to the other side of the boning.
14. And hem the rest of the top.
Here is the backside of the completed cover. 
And the front. 
I just love it!


  1. Merrill, I was completely surprised at how unashamed I became of breastfeeding in front of people that I know well. I got so sick of using a cover. I saw a woman at the zoo completely breastfeeding in the open! I thought it was great and beautiful and I gave her a smile.

    1. Ya, I was surprised at how comfortable I feel feeding around friends and family. And yet I was also surprised at how uncomfortable it felt in public. Mainly because I was worried that I was making strangers uncomfortable. Women should not feel ashamed! Or be forced into bathroom stalls. My hope is that more and more women, and our culture as a whole, accept breastfeeding as a beautiful act.