Monday, August 21, 2006

Breastfeeding with limited exposure: Hooter Hider/Bebe Au Lait

This is a bit of a blast from the past for our family as baby Geek is now enjoying the wonders of Enfamil (lactators, exhale, there was an insumountable medical reason for abandoning lactation before his 12th birthday).

Anyway, this geek family actually believes that the breast is best (this is actually probably a highly misunderstood phrase in many all-male geek societies). Belief in nurtitional best interests however, doesn't make the necessity of public breastfeeding in the conservative (yet ironically Hooters-loving) Midwest any less awkward. Seriously, if your screaming 2 month old wants sustenance NOW in a public place, you can assume that about half the women present will look at you like you're a hooker, and the men, well... it's closer to 90%. I sometimes found myself worrying that leering lurkers were going to start stuffing singles in my nursing bra.

So, if you don't like lots of attention or feel a bit shy about using phrases like "If you like this one, you should see the other: it's stupendous!" and "Is the baby blocking your view?" you may wonder what to do when you no longer want to sit in a room with just your darling suckling babe. Let's say you want to rejoin society for the few fleeting moments you aren't cleaning barf out of your hair and shoes and parts in between.

The alliteratively named Hooter Hider (later changed to the more upscale Bebe Au Lait in a disasterous marketing decision- really, who can resist saying Hooter Hider- I bet if you haven't heard it before, you're looking around for someone to point this page out to- just so you can say it aloud- repeatedly even) can help moms get back in public without feeling topless (although your child will find other ways to make you feel completely exposed despite a full complement of garments- see earlier reference to barfing for ideas).

Anyway, this wonderful large piece of cloth hides all your parts from the general viewing public. Many people didn't even realize that I was nursing a baby when they spoke with me. Some thought he was napping and others thought I was just a lumpy woman on break from Dippin' Dots (take this either as a warning against the Hot Dots pattern or nursing at the mall or both).

There is however, the limited possibility that your actions, especially with a difficult to nurse baby, will be taken by strangers as a subtle attempt on the baby's life (see baby posture in top photo).

None the less, you will be out in public and your breasts will not be.

The great features of this breastfeeding privacy tool over the ones you will find at Babies R Us and other mega-retailers are:
  • a little terry cloth pocket that can hold a breast pad while you nurse.
  • a non-burka like assortment of colors and styles. The mass market privacy covers are either 1) navy, 2) black, 3) navy plaid, or 4) black gingham.

    (the stylish navy cover shown here is actually called a "nursing veil" [no joke] available at Target packaged with a baby sized mystery restraint)

    I'm sure children nursed under such covers are melancholic and disproptionately drawn to the works of Edward Gorey in later life.

    Hooter Hider babies on the other hand have been shown to have a strange affinity for 1970s curtain patterns and Dippin' Dots.

    I have spoken out of turn. There is a new, exciting color infiltrating the otherwise bland mass market covers: Hold your breath, momma- you can now wear


  • A plastic rib between the straps that gives momma (and pretty much momma alone) a view of baby. This is unique to the patented Hooter Hider and quite useful.
  • The cover is lightweight (amazingly important when you consider how much body heat a newborn emits- think nuclear reactor). It's also easily packed into a coat pocket or diaper bag.
  • Easily machine washable.
  • Adjustable strap.
  • Privacy for prevents baby distraction and resultant extended feedings.
This is easily one of the best baby gear purchases we made in baby geek's first year. It let us leave the house together for more than 2 hours at a time and made everyone more comfortable (us, baby, and innocent bystanders).

New from maker: $26-35 plus shipping. Sometimes on sale at other retailers.

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