Breastfeeding In Public
While it’s easy to say that mothers should be able to breastfeed anywhere, anytime, it can be a bit daunting breastfeeding in public spaces. Especially in the early days. So here are some tips that might help mums feel comfortable and confident breastfeeding in public.
Know Your Rights
You are under absolutely no obligation to move, cover up, or in way modify how or where you breastfeed if you don’t want to. Breastfeeding is a legally protected right. Anywhere you and your baby are able to be you are allowed to breastfeed. Any attempt to make you leave a public space or even cover up is discrimination and harassment.
Though take some comfort from the fact the vast majority of people don’t bat an eyelid seeing a baby being fed. While there are some people who take issue, they’re a small – though occasionally quite vocal – minority. Discrimination does happen and is completely unacceptable, it isn’t a common occurrence. On the other hand I’ve had countless people smile at me while breastfeeding, or offer words of encouragement.
What To Wear
After nearly eight years of breastfeeding I believe any top you can get your breasts out of is a nursing top. While nursing my wardrobe consisted of stretchy singlets, scoop neck t-shirts, button up shirts, and wrap style dresses and tops. Some women prefer to pull their top down, some prefer to pull up – some layer their tops so they can pull one up and one down- do whatever works best for you. There are also some really great nursing and maternity wear brands like Breastmates and Queen Bee to make it easier for you. Ultimately wear whatever makes you feel comfortable and is easiest for you to breastfeed.
The first few times breastfeeding out and about can be a little overwhelming. One thing that really helped put me at ease was being with other mothers. Mothers who were also breastfeeding. It really helped lift my confidence. Shockingly I hadn’t even seen another woman breastfeed until I had my own child! So seeing other women breastfeed helped make breastfeeding seem more normal. (Though it’s a bit sad that we live in a culture where seeing mothers breastfeeding in public isn’t necessarily normal.)
Babywearing For Breastfeeding On The Go
Be aware that breastfeeding and babywearing are two separate skills. You will probably want to get the hang of both of them individually before you try them together. BUT breastfeeding baby in a carrier makes feeding your baby when you’re out so much easier. There’s nothing more frustrating than getting the trolley half full of groceries and baby starts squawking for a feed. If you can breastfeed in a carrier you just need to pop out a boob and keep on shopping. No drama.
Do What Feels Right For You
While there’s absolutely nothing inappropriate or indiscreet about breastfeeding it’s normal to feel a little uncomfortable breastfeeding in front of other people. So I want to add that you don’t have to breastfeed more openly than you personally feel comfortable. Honestly it took me about a year of breastfeeding before I felt confident feeding my son wherever – whenever. Even with my second baby in the very beginning while I was getting used to breastfeeding her (because every baby is different) I felt a little uncomfortable having an audience and I preferred to feed her in a parents room or under a cover.
Bottom line: It’s completely up to you how you feed your baby.