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Breastfeeding in public? Try these Tampa Bay spots

After my son was born, the one thing that caused me the most anxiety was the idea of NIP (for the uninitiated: nursing in public). The "lactvist" posters on the nursing moms message board just couldn't understand why someone might not be comfortable whipping it out in the middle of the food court.

It took some time, but I did find some bay area public places that understood my need to feed — but in private. Here are some of my picks. (If you know more, leave a comment below.)

Westfield Shoppingtown Citrus Park: It has a carpeted play area for toddlers and several curtained rooms with easy chairs, as well as ultra-convenient diaper changing stations with wipe warmers and eye-catching mobiles for the babes. The nursing rooms even have electrical outlets so if can score some alone time, you can go in there and pump away. This is the best!

Westfield Shoppingtown Brandon: This mall also has similar nursing rooms and changing stations but not the adjacent play area. Still a good deal though.

Nordstrom women's lounge at International Plaza: The first and second floor women's restrooms each have a lounge, but the second floor is worth the elevator trip. It has a separate room nicely decorated, with a couch, coffee table and two comfy chairs.

Motherhood Maternity: They don't have nursing rooms but they are nursing friendly, which, duh, isn't surprising since they sell clothes to PREGNANT women. One store let me use a fitting room for nursing and diaper duty.

The Florida Aquarium: I never knew about it or I might have had some fun out there during maternity leave. My mom friends tell me it's nothing fancy but does have an all-important lock. And we know, for those of us who don't like to show off any of the goods, it's good to have some privacy.

Babies "R'' Us: Each store has a mother's room with a couch or comfy chair and a changing table. The Wesley Chapel store is connected to Toys 'R' Us so you can shop both stores and have access to the mother's room. The shopping center also includes Bed Bath and Beyond, Ulta cosmetics store, Michaels, Dick's Sporting Goods and Best Buy so you can shop 'til you drop or until you have to drop blou again.

Busch Gardens: You may not be able to take Junior on the Montu, but you can take him to one of two nursing areas — one in Desert Grill and the other in the Land of Dragons. Restrooms there have chairs. Not private enough? You can also use the first aid stations, sit on a bed and pull the curtain.

La Leche League meetings: The only other people there are also baring it so you're in good company. It's also a good place to make friends and get support. And they will help if you're trying to get up the guts to NIP. To find your local group's meeting schedule, or get help with breast-feeding, visit www.lllusa.org.

YMCAs: The New Tampa branch offered to let me use its chapel. Check your branch to see if there's a similar deal.

Lisa Buie can be reached at buie@sptimes.com or (813) 909-4604.

Breastfeeding in public? Try these Tampa Bay spots 07/07/08 [Last modified: Thursday, December 18, 2008 8:24am]

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