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Breastfeeding in a Restaurant

When baby's need to eat coincides with your dinner reservation, you're within your rights to breastfeed. However, other diners and restaurant staff might not be comfortable with this natural display. As long as you're discreet and plan ahead, no one around you should complain about anything except a cold entree.

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The Law's On Your Side—Sort Of

Every state has laws about public breastfeeding, but it's legal in them all. It can be done in any public space where you're legally allowed to be, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, occasional news stories tell of mothers being asked to leave restaurants for breastfeeding. Attorney Jake Marcus of BreastfeedingLaw.com says a mother may be asked to leave a privately-owned establishment like a restaurant, and refusing to do so could be considered trespassing. All the same, don't go in expecting trouble, because you likely won't get any.

Dressing the Part

Getting all dolled up for a meal out requires some nursing-related considerations. Wear a loose sweater, zip-up sweatshirt, button-up cardigan or gauzy blouse. Wear a stretchy camisole underneath, or take this tip from La Leche League International: cut slits in an old T-shirt so they'll allow access to your nursing bra. When you pull up your top layer of clothing, you won't flash your torso at everyone in the restaurant.

Right Place, Right Time

Dining outside of rush periods means your chosen restaurant probably won't be packed, which can mean extra privacy. KidsHealth suggests asking the hosts for an isolated booth so you can sit with your back to other diners. The furthest booth at the back of the restaurant works too, though if it's on the route to the bathroom you'll still have onlookers pass by. If you're making reservations, share this request with the restaurant so they can put you in the best spot. If you're still nervous about public breastfeeding, take the seat closest to the wall and let someone else in your group shield you from people walking past.

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Making the Move

When the baby gets fussy, let the rest of your party know it's time to nurse. Drape a large scarf or light blanket over your shoulder and across the baby. After your sure his nose and mouth aren't covered by fabric, pull your top layer up or down to give the baby access to your breast. If you feel too uncomfortable doing this at the table, ask someone else to scout out the restroom to see if there's a comfortable chair where you can sit. If anyone gives you a hard time, just smile and remind them that spotting a breastfeeding mother is preferable to hearing a hungry baby scream.

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