So you’re a breastfeeding mummy to a beautiful new baby, and you think to yourself, I would love to go out for a wee shopping trip! Or meet up with a friend for coffee! Or have a nice meal out! But how could you possibly feed in public?! The thought of it makes your heart race and your hands sweaty. Well good news ladies, we have all been there! I dreaded feeding my children in public, but 3 babies later I can actually say I enjoy feeding when we’re out and about. It is simply a matter of building confidence and the only way to do this is by practise! I want to share a few tips that have helped me along the way. Hopefully some of what I write will be of help to another mummy.
- Invest in a good size muslin or feeding scarf to use when you are initially getting your baby latched on and then once he has started feeding move it away. Its not a good idea to keep your babys head covered over when he’s feeding. But at the end of the feed you can pull the muslin back over your chest to give you a little privacy to get your clothes back to normal.
- Just go for it! It may seem like a terrifying thought, but the best way thing for you to do is purposely go out INTENDING to feed your baby in a public place. Chose to make a trip to somewhere quiet. For me this would be a local coffee shop where I know it’s not too busy first thing in the morning and there are sofas to sit on so its comfortable. I’m sure you can all think of somewhere that would be a good place! Go there a few times to practise in the early weeks of feeding to build up your confidence. Gradually you’ll feel more at ease and have freedom to go to other places.
- Going out for a meal may seem a little daunting with a breastfeeding baby, but you can practise this at home, at your own dining table. Next time you sit down for dinner, start eating but about half way through your meal try to feed your baby as if you were in a restaurant. Use your muslin/scarf it thats what you intend to use when you’re in public. It can be tricky sitting on a firm seat with no arm rests or anything either side of you. Obviously you won’t have your feeding pillow, so you may need to re-postition your arm slightly to hold the weight of your baby. You may find its easier for you to feed from one particular side, depending on whether you’re left or right handed. But the only way to get the hang of it is practise! Practise make perfect! Of course you also need to practise eating with one hand…………
- Lose the layers! A big difference between feeding at home and in public, is what baby wears. At home your baby most likely wears sleep suits and vests but when you’re going out, you LOVE to dress him/her up in a cute little outfit (we all do it!). But if you have your little one dressed up, for example, in a vest, chinos, shirt, cardigan, coat and hat, and then lift him out of the pram to try and feed, he will be uncomfortable and may struggle to latch on properly because he can’t relax. Likewise, don’t keep yourself all wrapped up in a coat/cardigan etc. You both need to be comfortable and relaxed for breastfeeding in public to be successful.
- Think carefully about what clothes you wear. Many mummies love to wear nursing tops, as they provide discreet and easy access to the milk! However, nursing clothing ranges can be quite expensive and limited in style. I recommend using your normal pre-pregnancy tops that are a comfortable fit (ie. not skin tight) with a nursing vest/loose vest/stringed top underneath. When you feed baby, lift the outer top up and pull the vest down, so the vest is still covering your stomach while the outer top gives a little coverage above your chest.
These are just a few ideas that have helped me build my confidence to breastfeed in public. Hopefully they will help someone else too! A few final things to remember
You are doing this for the good of your baby.
God has given you the right and privilege to breastfeed.
You’re protected by law to breastfeed in public places.
If someone has a problem with you breastfeeding in public, it is a poor reflection on THEIR character and you should not be considerate to their feelings.
NEVER EVER FEED YOUR BABY IN A TOILET! Your baby deserves better!