After my first child as born, it was hard for me to breastfeed around my family during large family gatherings and holidays, mainly because I had such problems nursing him and such low confidence in what/how I was doing with it. I also have large boobs too, which I didn't really like having on display.
During family gatherings, I would go into another room to nurse or pump and I felt that missed out on a lot. One of my sisters-in-law, who I saw often, was able to do it. She'd wear a nursing top and feed her children: she didn't use a nursing cover, she just fed her child. I admired that and I wished I could had the confidence to do that too. Ben stopped nursing at four months, so I never got to that point with him.
I was more comfortable nursing around my family when Allegra was born. It was my second child and nursing was going much better. I wore a nursing cover in front of my family when they'd come over, rarely would I go into another room. I had a toddler also and while I was nursing, I still had to keep an eye on him (especially if I was around the family). I remember my father coming over one day, when Allegra was a baby and "giving me privacy" while I nursed my daughter in my den, even though I was fully covered up with a shawl. I definitely think that had more to do with him than me – at that point, I knew I was covered up and could have been in the same room. My toddler sat next to us on the couch, happily playing.
Now that my third child is here and breastfeeding is one of my top priorities, I'm a lot more confident. Skylar just turned eight weeks old and while we haven't had many social occasions with the family yet, things are different. Which means if he's hungry, I'm going to nurse. I'm not going to give him a bottle because I don't want to give him formula and I'd rather save my pumped breast milk for when I'm away from him.
While I will make sure my boob's not out in the cold air, I don't care if my family members know if I'm nursing or not. After Skylar's Bris, even though we were having problems with supply and latch, I nursed on my mother's couch during the party. My mother kept "encouraging me to cover up with a blanket" – which I did out of respect to her, but I wasn't wild about doing that. Feeding my baby is really the priority.
A few weeks later, my parents came over for one of the Jewish holidays. I had to feed the baby, so I got up during dinner and sat on the couch, covered in a lightweight blanket and nursed. At home, I nurse in front of my family constantly and they don't bat an eye. I anticipate a lot of family gatherings coming up in the next few months where I will be nursing whenever the baby wants. I may just leave the covers and blankets at home (though I will keep the boobs out of plain sight – with the help of a nursing shirt).
After all, a baby's got to eat, right?