View Full Version : Input needed from moms who nursed

05-05-2008, 12:38 AM
I need some feedback and help finding a pattern; crochet or knitting patterns are more than welcome.

A relative of mine is pregnant and is planning on nursing their baby. After nursing all three of my kids, struggling with trying to keep blankets or shawls on as privacy covers with one hand, while trying to maneuver the baby with the other hand, a lightbulb went off, and I thought to myself, "A poncho might have been a GREAT solution to this problem for me!" It stays put without having to worry about it falling off, leaving your hands free for getting nursing started and whatever else you may need to use hands for while nursing (reading, drinking, eating, etc.).

So for you ladies that have nursed, my question to you is, did you use something like a blanket, shawl, or poncho as a privacy cover? Which object did you use? Do you think a poncho might be the best of the abovementioned items to use?

Here's my dilemma, though, if I decide to make a poncho. This woman is on the younger side than I am (she's in her late 20's versus me in my late 30's), and is kind of on the sporty side. For myself, the "Martha poncho" kind of style would've been great--I love the open pattern and think it's pretty, and it is also practical (lets air in but would still keep things private), but I think it may be a bit too "girlie" for her. I don't want to make something in a really bulky or overheating style, and I want to keep her personal style in mind, too. Any ideas? I may use cotton or a cotton blend to keep it cool (as well as a "safe" choice for baby just in case there might be allergies to animal fibers), but I guess fiber choice may depend on what pattern I used.

Thanks in advance for your input!

Jan in CA
05-05-2008, 01:12 AM
I am much older than you are (55), but I usually just used a baby blanket. Not the best method though for sure.

I'm not sure about a poncho because it seems like it might be a little difficult to see what the baby is doing and all the things you need to do like refasten the bra, etc. What about a wider shawl that made had a clasp or button on it.. :think:

05-05-2008, 08:19 AM
I breastfed all 3 of mine, and never once used a cover up. It seemed to me that a big huge cover up hassle called more attention to the baby on my boob than discreetly lifting my top a little bit and latching the baby on did. When I needed to breastfeed in public I usually just latched the baby on in the sling and went about my shopping. Nobody could see anything, I guess you could say the baby was my cover up.

05-05-2008, 08:43 AM
not what you are looking for but have you seen the peek-a-boob from knitty ( http://knitty.com/issuespring05/PATTpeekaboob.html )?

05-05-2008, 08:47 AM
I nursed both of mine (recently) and rarely did I use a cover up. Once I got used to it, I was able to be very discreet without a cover up. That said, I did have a poncho of sorts that I would use during those really distractable periods of nursing. My sister made it and I am not sure if I can find the pattern, but I will describe it as best I can. She used ribbon yarn and it was a VERY open work pattern. It was longer on one side than the other and worked well for us. I am sure that your friend will apprciate it no matter what. Very thoughtful!

Good luck to your friend

05-05-2008, 08:53 AM
I also nursed and rarely used a cover up. Occasionally I used a receiving blanket, but DD seemed to get too hot under it. I did find that cardigans were my sweater of choice.

I just saw a new book at the library about knitting for moms-to-be. I can't remember the name of it, but it seemed to have some nice, modern styles in it.

I'll see if I can dig through my memory banks to come up with the name!


05-05-2008, 09:00 AM
I also nursed but I stayed home most of the time! But I have seen what I describe as a type of big bib I guess. I think that if you just knit a large square or rectangle (maybe 2 feet or so) and then add some long i-cord to either side, that way she could tie it loose enough to have a bird's eye view of the baby and still be covered. I would knit it on larger size needles too, that way it would not be too hot under there for baby.

05-05-2008, 09:02 AM
Thanks for all the help everybody!

I don't think there's a "right" way or a "wrong" way to nurse (I wasn't insinuating that at all; I hope nobody got that idea)...I know for myself, when I first started and didn't have a system or method downpat yet, I felt like I needed something to cover up with, but once things got established, I was okay and kind of a "pro" with being discreet without any cover-up. I just thought the mom-to-be might appreciate something to use for the first couple of times she was out and about; I know for me, my first outings outside of the house were a bit awkward for me because I was inexperienced, but once I got used to doing things, I was okay.

05-05-2008, 09:56 AM
I nursed both of mine- and didn't use a cover up either but had some nursing tops that were great and I nursed them everywhere I went with no problems.

I think your poncho idea would be a good one. I never felt coordinated enough to keep a blanket on my shoulder but a poncho would have worked well- or maybe moebus type drape that didn't have ends would have worked too. The only suggestion I would have would be to make it lightweight and airy- easier to peek in on the baby and not too hot.

Very thoughtful- and let me know what you ended up doing & how it worked- I'm probably not done with babies and could use the input!

05-05-2008, 10:04 AM
I was looking through the free patterns at Elann.com looking for a shawl pattern and saw a couple of beautiful lacy poncho patterns. I was even considering the option of changing the pattern to a shawl. They may give you some ideas if none of them is suitable. They were quite open and airy looking.
If you decide to look just scroll down through the patterns, it seems they were halfway or better down the page.

05-05-2008, 10:36 AM
Personally, I think something that would match her current wardrobe would be the best bet. If she isn't a shawl/poncho type, what about a twinset?

I'm still nursing my youngest, and a nursing tanktop (like the Peek-a-boob above, although mine are all built-in bra types and storebought) plus a one-button cardigan (button on the neckline, above my breasts) keeps everything modest while not screaming "I'm feeding a baby here!" (which, imo, most of the items sold as "nursing covers" do).

So, imo, if she wears cardigans at all, and you're up for it, even a shortsleeve, cropped cardi can be a great fashion piece and help with breastfeeding

05-05-2008, 10:42 AM
If I had a blanket with me I used it but a lot of times my shirt was good enough. I didn't care if anyone knew what I was doing as long as I didn't flash them.

05-05-2008, 10:58 AM
I normally didn't cover unless we where out at the mall or something like that. I go over to visit friend where she worked and nurse in her office in front of 3 guys. They didn't care and usually teased me telling the baby had it good. Yes they where dirty minded pervs. When I did cover up I used a light weight fleece blanket that a friend gave us.

My daughter turned into lookie lou at 5 months so we had to stop breast feeding. Sh was more interested in what the dog was doing or whre her daddy was at.

05-05-2008, 11:19 AM
I don't have a child. I'm only 18. But I do have a sister who is 3 and was breast fed. I have an idea, what if you made a poncho that had a V neck in it. so that way when you breast feed, you won't have to worry about dropping anything or anyone, and you can see whats going on. If someone has already said this then I agree with the idea! HAHAHAHA:)

05-05-2008, 11:56 AM
What about something like convertible (http://knitty.com/ISSUEspring06/PATTconvertible.html) from knitty? That way she has the option to button it up if she wants for more privacy, or leave it unbuttoned and just drape it loosely over the baby.

05-05-2008, 12:17 PM
I nursed for 18 months and had what my family referred to as my "super mom cape!" It was basically a receiving blanket size, made out of very light weight sheet-type material, and it had an approx 2" wide size strap that went around my neck and attached to the blanket with velcro. It was very lightweight, and the neck strap kept the blanket in place very well. I guess it was kind of like your poncho idea, but without a full back (just the neck piece).


05-05-2008, 12:27 PM
They didn't care and usually teased me telling the baby had it good.

05-05-2008, 12:39 PM
What about something like convertible (http://knitty.com/ISSUEspring06/PATTconvertible.html) from knitty? That way she has the option to button it up if she wants for more privacy, or leave it unbuttoned and just drape it loosely over the baby.

That looks perfect and is one I will keep in mind for later to use if necessary! (once they get into the distracto-baby phase)

I also like a varigated yarn idea because you can't really tell when it gets wet.

05-05-2008, 02:31 PM
i just used a recieving blanket.

05-05-2008, 02:44 PM
Expectant Little Knits is the name of the book.


05-05-2008, 05:13 PM
I nursed mine, and when we were in public I always covered up. (I'm a bit of a prude.) I had a cover that was shaped more like a giant bib than a poncho. I think a poncho might be too warm, since nursing a baby can make mama feel warm anyway. But something that covers in front, without covering the back would be ideal. I don't know of any patterns, though.

05-05-2008, 07:57 PM
I nursed all 3 of mine and rarely covered up. I found it was too much of a pita - all my kiddlets loved to grab the blanket (that I tried to use) and pull it all over the place. The poncho idea sounds perfect to me, and I really liked the knitty convertable someone posted. Good luck, and keep us updated.

05-05-2008, 09:45 PM
I nursed my two boys and seldom covered up. I was fortunate that my oldest was attached to burp rags, so to collect any dribbles, we kept one under his face, and it covered any skin that showed. My second son was more wiggly, and I had to work a little harder to be discreet. I used a the same kind of burp rag (I think they were Gerber birdseye cloth diapers) but just sort of draped it over when he got too squirmy. It was cool and very small.

I think it's sweet of you to want to knit her something! Something very light and lacy would be nice.

05-06-2008, 09:01 AM
I nursed both mine and didn`t cover up either - the pulled up shirts usually did the trick. I think that it´s really nice that you want to make something - and she´ll probably appreciate it as well. The knitty pattern looks nice - and can be used later as well ( added bonus :thumbsup: ) Good thinking with the varigated yarn too!!!!!


05-06-2008, 10:25 AM
I nursed both of my girls, and you're right- especially at the beginning when mom and baby are both learning how to do it, it can be nice to have a bit of cover-up. I was thinking that a nice lacey shawl might be just the thing- something with a button on it so she could wear it like a shawl and then just turn it around if she needed some cover. The button would keep it on, the shawl would provide a little 'camouflage', and the laceyness would keep it from being hot. Plus that way she can keep using it past the nursing days.

What a wonderful gift idea, you're a good friend!

05-06-2008, 10:37 AM
I didn't use a cover either, but on the rare occasion when I thought I should, I used a cloth diaper that I had handy. It's still a nice idea to have something pretty and lacy. I gave a busboy the thrill of his life at Red Lobster. My son was distracted from nursing by the clattering dishes, let go and there I was! But by the time you've had a baby, modesty is gone anyway. Everyone has already seen everything!

05-06-2008, 11:08 AM
I'm trying to remember back to my first when I did more covering up - I think with each child, I became a bit more carefree, and was able to just use a combination of shirt and child to keep myself covered. I mostly used blankets and things like that. With my last baby, I used those nursing tanks with the bra built in - what a godsend! I loved them so much, I still occasionally use them just as a tank bra. That being said, I love the idea of Convertible from knitty - it seems like it would work for the kind of mom you are describing - I'm that kind of not real girly, don't do ponchos - mom, and I love it. And I think it would be nice and airy, since it can get a little warm in there. I wouldn't make it out of any thing that can't be washed though - if I had to guess, it's going to get it's fair share of spit ups!

Keep us posted on what you do!

05-06-2008, 12:16 PM
I just heard something on XM radio talking about this item called Hide Your Hooters. It is supposed to let you have eye contact with your baby but, covers you for everyone else.

05-06-2008, 01:31 PM
I just found this lace poncho while surfing Knitting Pure and Simple. Scroll down the page to #251. gorgeous!

05-06-2008, 06:39 PM
I have a book I purchased at Barnes and Noble titled: Natural knits for Babies and Moms by Louisa Harding. It has a couple of nursing sweaters for mom and a shawl for mom. Some of the baby sweaters are really cute. Hope this helps. Patty

05-08-2008, 03:18 AM
When I nursed my two I never used a coverup. Either they would have interfered with my line of sight, or the babies (once they were a few months old) would have pulled them off.

What was super helpful were nursing shirts, with slits or flaps or whatnot, so that I could access the necessary parts without pulling my shirt all the way up. I'd either wear one of those or layer (i.e., a tank top under a button-down or cardi) so that I didn't get cold with my shirt ruched up. As long as my whole shirt wasn't pulled all the way up, the nursing was not that noticeable... (but then, I was much more about the comfort and convenience of my baby and myself than any worries about who might see what.)

The reason I mention my experience is that perhaps you should consider your feelings if you make something very specific and then she doesn't prefer to use it. Perhaps the best option is something convertible enough that she'll get use out of it even if it doesn't turn out to be "her thing" for nursing. A poncho could fit the bill, and so could a short capelet or a roomy cropped cardigan. In either case, do be sure it's made from something washable. She's lucky to have such a lovely friend!

05-08-2008, 03:23 AM
As for a specific pattern... a "Martha" poncho actually could do the trick, with one adjustment. Instead of sewing the front portion all the way up, I'd sew it halfway up and do the rest with buttons (large buttons for undoing with one hand). They'd add a bit of flair to the poncho and also give her better sightlines to the little one.

Cotton can get heavy as a material. If you use it, I'd use something spun soft and fluffy (and therefore lighter) like Manos Cotton Stria, Blue Sky Alpacas Organic Cotton or Lion Brand Nature's Choice Organic Cotton.

05-08-2008, 11:10 AM
So nice of you to think of your relative! I nursed my daughter for 3+ years; she is now 17, so it was a while ago. I used a shawl because I felt more comfortable and I think she liked the 'quiet' time. I used a light-weight woven shawl, like a pashima, but lighter. If you're trying to make something to offer a degree of privacy, I wouldn't recommend something airey or lacey - that defeats the purpose. But I definitely suggest something light-weight, which probably means fine gauge (and more work). It can get pretty warm under there. A not-too-dense fringe can also add some gentle weight at the ends of the shawl to help keep it in place. The reason I personally wouldn't want a poncho is that it might not be easy to put on, especially if you have a hungry baby and not enough hands, where I was able to hold baby with one hand/arm and throw the shawl over my shoulder and arrange with the other. Also, it is easier to arrange a shawl over one shoulder (and a baby) and have it look unobtrusive, than a well-fitting ponch, which it seems would show the bump more. Also, a rectangular shawl makes a nice extra layer or emergency blanket, and make sure it isn't so bulky that it can't be packed in the bag. Now just so I don't get attacked for appearing to try to hide nursing my baby: I was an OB nurse, a Lactation Consultant, a proud member of LeLeche League. I was happy to get on the soapbox to promote breastfeeding most of the time, but nursing was very special, intimate time for my daughter and me and I didn't want to invite strangers into that space just because I happened to be nursing her in a public place. Isn't it sad we still feel that we have to defend something that is so human and natural? Good luck with your project!