Breastfeeding is the best way to feed your baby. It’s natural, it helps to form a close bond between mother and baby, and, it’s a deeply pleasurable experience for mother and baby once established. It is also the best way to nourish your child and to give him immunity from many childhood diseases.
However, some moms may be wary of breastfeeding in public places. Unfortunately, if you want to have any sort of a life, you will almost certainly find that your baby sometimes needs feeding when you are outside the home. Don’t let embarrassment prevent you from breastfeeding your child.
If you find feeding in public tricky, here’s a few tips to help make it all easier.
- Be confident in your right to breastfeed in public. Nothing is more important than your baby’s needs, and no one has the right to deny her.
- If anyone approaches you and complains, be calm and polite but insist that your baby needs to be fed and that you are going to continue. In some states in the US, your right to feed your baby is enforceable by law!
- Have some sensitivity. It is not necessary to put everything on public display. If you can, sit in a quiet place (it’s better for the baby anyway) and turn away from the majority of people.
- Dress for the occasion. By that, I don’t mean your change your fashion sense, simply that if you dress with the expectation of needing to feed your baby, you will find it easy and most people will probably not even notice. Wear layers, or baggy jumpers that can accommodate the baby underneath. You can conceal a vest top or T shirt which has been cut to open over your breasts under a loose shirt or jumper.
- Take a shawl with you. If the weather is hot and you are only wearing a little top, draping a shawl around your shoulders and covering your front can provide excellent privacy for you and your baby.
- Pick your places. It does make it easier if you avoid situations where feeding would be inappropriate, such as business meetings, very formal environments and very smart restaurants.
- Ask the store, restaurant or wherever you are if there is a nursing facility. Many places these days have dedicated nursing rooms where you can go should you prefer.
- Share your experiences of public nursing with other moms through breastfeeding groups like La Leche League. These groups can also give you advice and support.
- Keep a sense of humour! Sometimes you may find that a curious child may approach you and want to see what you are doing. If they are old enough, just explain that you are giving your baby his dinner. A glimpse of your breast is not going to traumatise a child for life.
- Never feel that you have to retreat to a public toilet. If anyone objects and suggest that you should do this, tell them quite firmly that your baby no more wants to eat her dinner in a public toilet than they would!
Breastfeeding your baby is a very special time in your life, and you have the right to enjoy it, as does your baby.