How to breastfeed in public minus the embarrassment?
Are you that mom who is uncomfortable while breastfeeding outside one’s house?
Do you prefer being homebound just because you lack the confidence to nurse in public?
If YES, this article is for you.
This article is for those moms who want to attend to their babies nursing needs anytime anywhere but shy away from doing so due to low confidence or fear of embarrassment. This article is for those moms who avoid breastfeeding in public when the baby is hungry and has that mommy guilt for doing so. No more guilt moms, you sure can nurse your baby anywhere and anytime minus the awkwardness if you follow certain strategies.
Breastfeeding in public – current scenario:
Breastfeeding is supported and encouraged in every society and culture. But when it comes to nursing in public, there is always a controversy.
While some agree with nursing in public and consider it as a very normal process, others make headlines in the Newspapers by humiliating some poor mom who took her breasts out to feed her baby in a restaurant or park.
Boobs, tits, breasts whatever we call it, the prime purpose of it is to nurse the baby. Then why is breastfeeding in public an issue? When you see a baby nursing there is nothing complicated happening there – the baby is just eating his food. FULL STOP!! But when some people give it a ‘sexy texture’ everything goes wrong from that point.
Whatever it is, when a baby is crying out of hunger a mother ought to do what she has to do. Most of the time we moms will go on and breastfeed our tots irrespective of whether we are in a bustling railway station or a quiet local restaurant. But I must admit that inside our minds we will be conscious and concerned about so many things while nursing in public.
Being self-conscious, most of us would be uncomfortable or nervous to nurse the baby outside the privacy and comfort of the four walls of a room. Many of you must have even avoided long distance travels, functions, get together, and dining out just because you have a breastfeeding baby.
Some people find it uncomfortable to see a mother nursing in public. It is his or her mentality and we can’t go and correct every single person on earth. So ignoring such people is the best you can do. But, still, good manners suggest that you should take the feelings of others too into account. So when you are breastfeeding do it discreetly if your baby cooperates.
A mother who has to breastfeed in public will be worried about two things –what people will think and how much skin is exposed. Agree?
How to breastfeed in public – 9 effective tips and tricks
When your baby is hungry or in need of comfort, you should be able to breastfeed him anywhere anytime.
Like every new mom, I was also lacking confidence when it came to breastfeeding in public. My first fear was how to breastfeed in public on a flight when flying back to UAE with my then 5-month-old baby.
When you are in a mall or restaurant you can always find some places to do so discreetly. But on a flight with some stranger sitting next to you, and minimum room to twist or turn, the thought of breastfeeding was not ok for me. That is when I started to learn on how to breastfeed in public discreetly.
To my surprise, there was no much difficulty, though I struggled a little bit, as my baby didn’t like covering up. But once I did nursing in public 2-3 times, I became more confident and have never shied away from breastfeeding anytime anywhere.
Some careful strategizing can help you breastfeed more confidently when you are out and about. Listed below are the 9 strategies that worked well for me and many moms in carrying out a confident nursing session in public.
#1. Know the laws
Breastfeeding in public is forbidden in some countries, there are no written proper laws regarding these in others, and in some countries, the mother is given full right and protection to breastfeeding in public or a workplace if she has to. So it is important to know your rights – a knowledgeable woman is a more confident woman.
In India, there is no legal statute on breastfeeding in public. Social acceptance varies from region to region. (as per Wikipedia). But discreet breastfeeding in public is mostly accepted in India.
#2. Nurse ahead
Understand your baby’s hunger cues and nurse before he throws a tantrum due to hunger. A calm baby is easy to breastfeed than a wailing one.
Before you hit the shopping mall or restaurant try nursing your baby in your car itself. If your baby has a nursing session before actually entering into the crowd, it can be easier for both you and the baby.
#3. Practice at home in front of a mirror
Most of us will be more concerned about how much skin is exposed while nursing. But the fact is that a nursing baby’s head covers your breast rather efficiently.
To be surer you can practice breastfeeding in front of a mirror. This will help you to know which parts you have to cover up or which type of outfit provides the least skin exposure while nursing.
#4. Dress for nursing
When you are out and about, always wear a dress that helps you in easy nursing.
Two piece outfits, shirts or Kurtis with front open buttons or zips or dresses that have flaps that can be lifted up or pulled to a side easily will give baby easier access to his lunch, and grant you more privacy.
There are plenty of maternity dresses in every style available in shops nowadays that help moms breastfeed without much skin exposure.
You can also use a simple shawl, a cardigan or jacket to be put over your dress to ensure some privacy when you are breastfeeding.
#5. Choose appropriate inner-wear
Choose bras that help in easy access to the nipples while nursing. There are plenty of nursing bras available in the market.
A nursing camisole worn under your dress can definitely help in covering up your skin that can be otherwise exposed if you are lifting your dress up to breastfeed.
A cheaper option than going for a nursing camisole is to make one from your old t-shirt. Cut horizontal slits in the t-shirt at breast level and wear it under your dress. So when you lift the outer dress, the t-shirt stays in place and the slit acts as a sort of window through which you can breastfeed. This way your tummy and other parts will not be exposed even if you have to lift your dress to breastfeed.
#6. Use a cover-up
Put a blanket or shawl made of light fabric over your shoulders so that it drapes over your baby’s head. Using a scarf when breastfeeding is also a good tip.
But most of the babies are uncomfortable with fabric covering their head and face especially when the climate is hot. If your little one is ok with it, then go on for a lightweight, cotton breathable blanket.
A sling or a discreet breastfeeding cover can also be used for discreet nursing. But if the baby is not co-operating to cover up don’t go for it. There is nothing wrong even if you don’t cover up.
Another way is to use a piece of cloth to cover just the upper part of your breast. I used to carry a piece of cloth that was a little bigger than a normal face towel. I used to place it on my shoulders put it over my breast and place my hand over it. In this way, the baby’s head is not covered in layers of clothing yet your breasts are covered properly.
Another perk is that if the baby stops the breastfeeding in between to take a look around( babies do that especially when they are at a new place), this piece of cloth can be quickly used to cover the entire breast.
#7. Turn away to latch
For those who are worried about skin exposure please note that your breasts are not exposed much when the baby is actually breastfeeding. Your baby’s head will mostly cover your breasts.
Chances of skin exposure are more when the baby is trying to latch on. To avoid skin exposure at this moment you can turn your back to the rest of the room or face a wall while you get him latched on. Once latching is done you can confidently turn to face the crowd, as there is not much exposure.
Do the same when the baby is finished feeding.
#8. Find out places to nurse before you need them
If your baby is hungry and fussy it will be even more difficult to nurse. So find out places to nurse before you need them. It never hurts to ask and most of the places now days have a nursing room or some kind of privacy provision arranged for breastfeeding.
In case there are no feeding rooms available, always try to sit in a spot where you are having privacy, i.e. where you will be least visible to the strangers. This is important because all the hustle bustle can distract the baby and make the breastfeeding section longer. When breastfeeding outside our house, we often like to wrap up the whole business quickly.
Stay away from toilets. People don’t eat food in a toilet. So why should your little one?
#9. Be confident in what you are doing
Even when done discreetly, a mother will have to deal with many raised eyebrows and disapproving glances when breastfeeding in public. Just don’t worry about those unfriendly glances. IGNORE.
Know that what you are doing is the best and the right thing you can do for your baby. When breastfeeding; be confident, smile and go about your business wherever you are. You have nothing to be ashamed of and your confidence will make gawkers take their eyes from you.
Hope these tips on how to breastfeed in public will help you to confidently and confidentially breastfeed your little one when you are on the go.
Which of the above strategies you had used/ have been using for breastfeeding in public? Let me know in the comments below.