Breastfeeding in public is a woman’s right, it is supported by law in 48states, but the practical side of this can be a real issue and many new mothers worry about negative reactions to feeding their baby in front of strangers.
Part of the convenience of breastfeeding is that you have all your equipment right there, milk at the perfect temperature, ready at any time! To be able to leave the house and feed your baby wherever you like should be easy, right? In Theory. But not everyone is comfortable with breastfeeding in pubic, so here are some practical pointers that may ease the anxiety felt by so many new Mothers.
- Practice at home, in front of a mirror, or have someone you trust observe. Start “normalizing” breastfeeding at home, with visitors, sometimes our worry can be for nothing, you may just be surprised by the reaction of others. What may feel like you exposing your body to the world, might not even be visible to others.
- Plan ahead. Going to the store? The mall? Start by going somewhere you know has breastfeeding accommodations, where you know moms and babies will be. You will be surprised at how many public places have great breastfeeding spaces and will have these listed online. I came across this cool app that can help you search for a private place to breastfeed: Mom’s Pump Here.
- Invest in a good nursing bra, not only is this important for comfort and supports good breast health, but there is nothing worse than having to fumble when settling down to feed your baby!
- Wear layers, a stretchy tank can be versatile, an oversized t-shirt or button down, this can act as a cover or blanket. I like those large pashmina/ scarves as a way to conceal. Not only look fabulous they are a great way of screening the baby if you are worried about some skin showing.
- Choose a comfortable location. A good place to start, if weather permits, is a quiet area in the park, a park bench or a shady spot under a tree, It would look nothing more than a mama snuggling with her baby to potential onlookers.
- Watch your baby’s cues, this advice is not only for the early days in the hospital, but it is worth remembering when you are out and about with your baby. Consider: A crying baby who is hungry and frantic could draw attention and add to your anxiety. A calm baby will more than likely latch quickly and successfully.
- If, on the off chance you encounter negative comments, think of a response that is both firm and polite. No need to apologize, you are doing nothing wrong. A kind smile often is all you need to deter onlookers.
The more we can normalize breastfeeding, the more it will be accepted as part of our culture for feeding and nurturing our children.
“A newborn baby has only three demands. They are warmth in the arms of its mother, food from her breasts, and security in the knowledge of her presence. Breastfeeding satisfies all three”. ~Grantly Dick-Read