Breastfeeding in public, especially when you’re new to the gig can be pretty scary. But here’s the thing: your baby doesn’t care whether you’re safe at home, or out and about in a busy shopping mall – when they’re hungry they’re hungry. So here are five tips to feeling more comfortable breastfeeding out and about…
In reality, it’s pretty rare for anyone to pass negative comment on a woman feeding her baby in public. And if they do, it says a lot more about them than you. After all, breastfeeding is one of the most natural processes of all, and what our boobs were made for That being said, it doesn’t stop the fear that you’ll feel uncomfortable. Or worrying that you could be on the receiving end of a stranger’s comment.
So how can you feel more comfortable about breastfeeding in public?
One: Get comfy.
There’s nothing worse than getting in a flustered tangle of clothes as you try and feed your baby. We recommend, even if it’s just for the first stretch, kitting yourself out in easy to access feed-friendly garments. This eliminates faff time and makes the whole experience smoother for you both.
While most button-down tops and dresses make easy work of feeding, there are lots more fashion-forward brands that have cottoned on (sorry for the pun) to the demand for stylish feeding garments too. However, a cheaper alternative to breastfeeding fashion is simply the ‘one-up one down’ method. This simply means wearing a vest top underneath your clothing. You can then pull your outer top up and your vest down to feed, with minimal flesh-flashing. Also, the release snap from your nursing bra will become like a magician’s sleight of hand trick in no time.
Two: Know your rights.
Feeding in public is normally a positive experience – think encouraging smiles from strangers and knowing nods from other Moms. However, if any negativity comes your way, or you’re asked to move on, it’s helpful to understand your legal rights. In the US, public breastfeeding is legal in all 50 states (as of 2018, about time!). In the UK it’s been illegal to ask a breastfeeding woman to leave a public place for feeding since 2010. This means that whether you’re in a cinema, restaurant, bus, plane, shop or library, you have every right to get that baby fed.
Three: Cover if you want to, but don’t feel you should.
In the early days, some women like to have the option of covering themselves. Muslins and lightweight blankets can double as a sunshade, puke wiper, and general baby gunk catcher. It can get quite hot and uncomfortable to keep your boobs and your baby covered in the hot summer months. So remember that you don’t need to use one. Covering up while feeding is a personal preference, it should never be expected.
Four: Practice makes perfect.
At first, as with most aspects of parenthood, you’ll be second guessing yourself. At the beginning of your public feeding foray, it’s a good idea to pop yourself in front of a mirror and practice feeding before you head out. A lot of women do this to reassure themselves that they’re not exposing themselves in a way they feel uncomfortable with. And once you and your baby master the elusive latch then you’ll be surprised how little flesh is actually on show.
Seeing how natural and awesome you look feeding your baby will give you the confidence boost you need to power through your concerns. Another way to practice is to make sure the first couple of times you’re feeding outside of your home, you’re doing it around people you know, trust and feel comfortable with – think family, friends and baby group friends.
Five: Undo the stigma.
Know that every time you breastfeed outside of your home you’re helping to normalize it. After all, why should a public toilet be a more acceptable place to feed your baby than a park bench? When other Moms see women breastfeeding their babies, it’ll help make them feel more vindicated to do it too. Hopefully encouraging hide-away feeders to come out and nurse their babies in the open. Plus the more the public see feeding Moms, the less of a big deal it becomes.