Some mums have no qualms about breastfeeding in public, but if this is your first baby, you may be terrified at the thought of openly breastfeeding in a public place.
Unfortunately, hungry babies won’t wait until you are conveniently back at your car at home before they start crying to be fed. It can also be upsetting to deal with negative reactions from people who don’t believe mothers should breastfeed in public, even though it’s the most natural thing in the world!
In this article, we have some useful tips if you are ready to leave the house with your baby and don’t yet feel comfortable about the idea of breastfeeding in a public place.
Go Out with a Friend or a Partner
Having a friend or partner along for moral support can be really helpful the first few times you venture out with your baby. Try and plan a low-key outing, such as a trip to a local park where there happens to be a café. Enjoy being out of the house and try not to fret about feeding your baby. When he does start to get hungry, look for a convenient place to go, preferably before he starts being too vocal about being hungry.
Having a sympathetic friend or your partner with you will be a distraction, and if anyone is rude enough to criticise you for breastfeeding in public, they can defend your right to do so.
Wear Easy Access Clothing
A nursing bra is essential when breastfeeding. Nursing bras are designed to open up so the baby can access your breast. Look for a bra that’s easy to unfasten and doesn’t require an unreasonable level of dexterity. Practice at home so you can unfasten your bra cup quickly and deftly, without attracting too much attention.
Wearing the right clothing makes breastfeeding discretely so much easier. It doesn’t matter at home because you can whip out your boob without giving it a second thought, but it’s advisable not to flash too much flesh in public.
Wear a shirt you can unbutton or a loose top you can lift to feed your hungry baby. Pair this with a loose cardigan or jumper. The aim is to avoid exposing yourself too much, as that will make you feel uncomfortable, and breastfeeding when embarrassed may impede your milk flow.
Carry a Scarf to Cover You and the Baby
Wearing a loose, pretty scarf is a great way to hide what you are doing when you need to breastfeed your baby. We shouldn’t need to hide behind a scarf, but the sad fact is there are some people who get offended when a woman breastfeeds a baby. There will probably come a time when you no longer care what anyone thinks, but until that day comes, be kind to yourself and wear a lovely scarf as an accessory.
Look for a Discreet Place to Feed Your Baby
See if the venue has a discreet place where you can sit to feed your baby. In a café, it might be the table in the corner behind a potted fern, or in a park, a bench off the main pathway. If you are planning a visit to a new venue, check if they have any facilities for breastfeeding mothers. Some venues have a private room where mums can take their baby to breastfeed.
Don’t feel pressured into taking your baby into an unhygienic restroom to feed him. Some staff may suggest you do that you politely explain that it isn’t an appropriate place to feed a baby, and would they like to eat their lunch in there?
If that doesn’t shut down the conversation, leave the venue, and look for somewhere more suitable. It’s a good idea to leave a negative review on social media or Mumsnet too, so other breastfeeding mums are aware the establishment is not parent-friendly.
Ask for a Private Space in a Public Building
Many public buildings such as art galleries and museums are parent-friendly and will happily point you in the direction of a room where you can feed your baby.
Try Bottle-Feeding in Public while Breastfeeding at Home
If you are really uncomfortable about the thought of breastfeeding in public, try your baby on formula milk. It’s perfectly OK to switch between breast and bottle to suit your needs. Baby formula is full of nutrients and parents often find the extra freedom afforded by a baby that will accept formula makes their lives much easier. S-26 baby formula is suitable for infants from birth and is perfect for mums that want to mix and match formula and breastfeeding. As your baby grows, you can move him on to toddler milk, so he continues receiving lots of nutrients while he is being weaned.
Finally, when you need to breastfeed in public, remember to paste a big smile on your face. People will automatically feel more relaxed around you if you look relaxed and happy. And if anyone does attempt to criticise you, remind them breastfeeding in public is legal.