When we took our first four hour trip in the car with our daughter when she was just about two weeks old we made frequent stops as she belted out for more of mommy’s milk. Breastfeeding is hard while we’re on the road, I thought. We had her secured in her infant seat rear-facing in the back middle seat, of course, and I was sitting in the front passenger seat next to my husband. We jumped when she cried, and I tried to shake rattle and toys over her head from where I was sitting. In the heart of a cold Wisconsin December winter we made frequent stops, exiting the highway and pulling over so I could get out of the car, climb into the back seat, take Veda out of her seat, feed her, and place her back in.
Oh how far we have come… literally and figuratively speaking…from the days of pulling over the car to feed the baby. I now consider myself an expert in feeding baby in a moving vehicle. Perhaps you have seen me, driving past us on the highway in some country- I would be the woman in the back seat bending over my baby safe in her car seat with my boob in her mouth. No, the dark man driving the vehicle without a passenger in the front is not my chauffeur- that’s my husband. Well, I suppose he also doubles as a chauffeur, but a very poorly paid one at that.
I figured out that, especially on long trips, instead of stopping the car and delaying our trip (sometimes by an hour or longer depending on the length of feedings), and contributing to a prolonged period of baby-without-boob fury, it’s much easier to just sit in the back seat with Veda. She seems more comfortable that way. When she falls asleep, I typically climb back into the front passenger seat to keep my husband company- hey anyway to get thrills these days! But joking aside, it really is much easier to sit in the back on a long trip with a breastfeeding baby- or toddler.
Now at 16 months Veda is a little more tolerant of being strapped into a seat for long periods of time, but she still loses her patience quickly. How wonderful it is just to unbuckle myself, lean over the car seat, pull out the boob, and instantly I have a satisfied suckling little one, filling her belly, comforting her, and keeping her content. She also quickly succumbs to sleep after nursing a bit, which is great because she’s still in the seat, the car is moving keeping her asleep, and then I can hop back up front with my husband. It is easier now for me these days as she is bigger and older so she can work with me more to turn her head toward me, requiring less leaning on my part. When she was a tiny little one, I literally had to sprawl my body over the car seat to reach her little mouth.
I’ve done this all over the world, in the U.S., Jordan, South Africa, Parguay, Lebanon, and India. I do try to be a bit more discrete in places like Jordan, but to passer-bys, they probably are just going to see a woman’s back crouched over- no big deal. I unfortunately don’t have any photos of breastfeeding over my daughter, because typically my husband is driving while this is happening, but I am attaching a photo of feeding Veda when she was about three months old when we took a jeep ride through the Wadi Rum desert in Jordan. A car seat would not have worked in that vehicle, so I held her in my lap for that ride (going 10km an hour in open desert with no other vehicles in sight for miles). Although many people in the world choose to hold their babies in their laps in the front seat, or on motorcycles piled with a family of four, this is definitely not a safe option for baby– you can definitely keep baby safe in the car seat while feeding at the same time!
Disclaimer: Do not attempt this while driving the vehicle :).