In such a modern world, it makes me sad that women feel as though they cannot feed their baby in a public place, and that it is something we should be ashamed of. Even when many countries have laws supporting breastfeeding women, our overall society views haven’t quite caught up – which is such a rare thing for politics and policy to be ahead of societal beliefs.
If you’re a breastfeeding Mama who wants to be able to confidently breastfeed in public read on, we’ve got you covered.
We don’t come from a standpoint of ‘just do it’. Because I know how difficult that can be. I was so nervous when I would feed my son. I was scared of being judged. Scared of making people feel uncomfortable. Scared of doing it wrong and people realising I wasn’t good at this whole Motherhood thing.
For some women, there’s a lot of mindset work that goes into something like breastfeeding in public. It should be easy, but considering breastfeeding requires a cascade of hormones to work properly, and when we feel scared or uncomfortable, that hormone cascade in inhibited, something that should be easy becomes difficult very quickly.
And if you’re the kind of Mama who doesn’t want to feed in public that’s okay too. It’s your choice! But that’s the important thing – that you have a choice.
So here you have our tips for how you can confidently breastfeed in public (if you choose to):
Know Your Rights
Do you know where you can feed your baby, legally speaking? Many countries and/or states have specific laws that protect a mother’s right to be able to feed her baby in public. This is important knowledge to have if you are in a public place, such as a restaurant or a shopping centre, and are asked to ‘cover up’ or to leave.
Check your local laws and know your rights. Find out what ‘public place’ is defined as. Does this cover a place of business? A church? A school?
When you know and understand your rights, you’ll feel more confident in yourself and you’ll be armed with information if someone does decide to say something to you.
I have to admit, I’ve fed my babies in all kinds of public places and have never had anyone actually say anything negative to me – I’ve been ready for it! But it’s never actually happened (not by a stranger anyway, but that’s another story for another day).
Start In Quieter Places Until Your Confidence Grows
If you’re feeling particularly nervous about breastfeeding in public, try by starting in a quieter place until you get the hang of how to position yourself and unclip your bra and all the new logistics that come with feeding a baby.
Most shopping centres will have parenting rooms, which are a great place to go if you need somewhere quieter (and sometimes it’s easier for your baby to feed with less noise and distraction too).
Once you feel confident enough, then you’ll be able to feed in more public places with a little less stress and worry.
Have A Friend or Hubby on Hand To Help
Don’t be afraid to ask for help from a friend or hubby if they are with you. Having someone there can make things a lot easier, especially when you’re trying to handle your baby and your boob without dropping either one of them.
One of the things I found more difficult to manage when I was on my own was if my baby were to spit up or if I had to grab something from the pram while I was trying to feed. Any sort of movement increased the chances of my son being distracted and pulling off the breast to look around.
When you’re starting out feeding in public this can leave you feeling a little ‘exposed’. By the time I had my second baby and we were in our rhythm of feeding I could tell when she was about to pull off the breast and was coordinated enough to cover myself with one hand while still holding onto her with the other. It’s quite the dance but once you have it down pat you’ll be able to do it by yourself with ease.
In the meantime, having a friend or hubby close by to grab whatever you need, or to take your babe when you are done so you can adjust yourself can make all the difference.
Use Any Additional Devices You’d Like
If wearing a breastfeeding cover makes things easier for you (and your baby tolerates it) then go ahead! This isn’t a competition, it’s not a game of ‘who can breastfeed in public better’. You don’t have to prove yourself to anyone.
This is about feeding and comforting your baby, when they need it, with confidence.
While on the topic of ‘devices’ – breastfeeding can be incredibly boring sometimes. If you spend most of the time feeding your baby scrolling through Facebook (or reading articles from The Empowered Mama Project) and not staring lovingly at your baby – that’s okay, we do it too!!
Wear Clothes That Make Access Easy
I resisted buying breastfeeding clothes for so long because they were so expensive and I kept telling myself I didn’t know how long I was going to be able to breastfeed for. BUT, here’s the thing… I swear having breastfeeding friendly clothes has helped me breastfeed for longer!
Now, when I shop, I don’t necessarily go for the specific breastfeeding tops, but I do choose ones that have easy boob access (it’s a real thing!). Things like buttons or shirts you can layer make the whole breastfeeding in public thing so much easier.
Invest in some good breastfeeding bras (my favourite are these ones from Cadenshae – not an affiliate, I just LOVE them and wear them every single day!!) and then buy whatever tops make breastfeeding easier for you.
Know That A Nip Slip Is Not The End Of The World
I guarantee, even if your babe pulls back from feeding, looks around and then continues on his merry way, all the while leaving your nip out in the open air for anyone to see… even then… you will still have ‘exposed yourself’ less than 3/4 of the photos on Instagram. (Not an actual statistic… but you get my point).
Despite what those stuck in the 1950s want us to believe, breastfeeding in public is not sexual, it does not cause men to fall over us, it does not distract people (and if it does, it’s their problem, not yours), and it is not ‘exposing yourself’.
Sure, there might be a nip slip here and there, but you’d have to be staring pretty darn hard and up close to see it. And even still… it’s a nipple, men show theirs off all the time. At least ours have a functional purpose – to feed our babies.
While it can be nerve-wracking at first, with practice and over time you’ll start to feel far more confident breastfeeding in public, and if you’re like me, you’ll get to a point where you just feed your babe whenever, wherever, regardless of who is around, because when you’re baby is hungry, they’re hungry, and feeding them is much easier than dealing with a crying and upset hungry baby.