How to Nurse (or Pump) at a Formal Function

I’ve been nursing for 5 years straight now, and have been to a few formal affairs in that time period. It always seems much easier in theory than in practice to nurse a baby (or pump milk for the baby) while surrounded by black ties and sparkly gowns. Pumping is way more of a pain, for me, because I had to totally leave the party to pump in a private room, whereas I’ve always felt comfortable just nursing my baby among the action whenever he felt hungry.

Since I went to 2 weddings in a row with my newborn this autumn, I noticed a few things that made the whole experience a little easier for me.

Would you ever guess this is a nursing/maternity dress?

Would you ever guess this is a nursing/maternity dress?

1. Find the right nursing bra/tank. Judy, renowned bra whisperer, hooked me up with this inexpensive nursing tank in black. I felt hesitant that something like this would support my 34 G (or maybe I’m an H right now?) bust, but it was perfect and the seamless tank had a low profile that made it work well with a number of different dresses. Supportive enough to dance in, it also had a wee bit of padding that concealed any leakage. Plus I could work the clasps with one hand.

Not local to our store? Try a virtual fitting to help you find the right underthings for your fancy party. The cost of the fitting goes toward any bra you might purchase!

2. Find the right dress. There’s nothing like sitting down to pump and realizing you need to remove your entire dress to make it work. Many women aren’t even aware that there is such a thing as a nursing dress. There are, and they aren’t all florals or¬†paisley as you might fear! There are dresses designed specifically for nursing, so there’s no need to stretch the neckline or finagle a “regular” dress. A Mother’s Boutique carries many dresses perfect for casual or formal events. Each has nursing openings that make it easy for you to discretely nurse or easily hook yourself up to the breast pump as needed.

3. Find the right chair. I generally need arm rests to nurse comfortably. Those awful folding chairs at weddings and fancy dinners just don’t work well for me, especially if I’m getting snagged in the tablecloth while I move my baby into position. I usually walk around the venue with my baby (great for soothing!) and locate the very best chair. Then I keep returning to it each time I need to nurse. Often I find the most comfortable chairs are in hallways next to decorative mirrors. This is usually helpful for me because my baby is less distracted a little bit removed from the action. If there aren’t any comfy chairs, I make do in the folding chair at the table and lean on my husband!

As I’m on my third child now, I can nurse standing up. With the right dress, nobody can even tell what’s going on. I nursed standing in line at the cupcake truck at my sister’s wedding and chatted up a bunch of single 20-somethings, who had no idea I was feeding the baby when they asked to hold him. It’s more comfortable in a good chair, though.

4. Call ahead. With my last nursling, I went to a wedding without him when he was seven months old. I didn’t want to bother the bride when she was already swamped, so I called the reception venue to ask about a private room where I might pump during the wedding. I asked who I should ask for when I got to the reception, and that person showed me to a great room with a table and outlets and a television. The bride had no idea, but I made sure to tell her later that her vendors were so wonderfully accommodating. If I weren’t pumping and I felt modest nursing at the party, I would have used the same strategy to locate a room to nurse my baby.

Other things that worked well for me if I was pumping at a formal party were to snag spare ice from the bar. I used plastic bar cups in a pinch to nestle around the bottles of my expressed milk in my cooler. I also brought spare Ziplock bags and burp cloths to deal with any spills or leaks.

Have you nursed your baby or pumped your milk during fancy parties? Leave us a comment to share your best tips. 

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