How to feel confident breastfeeding in public
In today’s society, breastfeeding in public still comes under scrutiny despite it being every mother’s legal right to feed their baby wherever they please. It’s not surprising therefore that some new mums feel apprehensive about feeding in public.
Whilst the media fuels the debate with sensationalist articles which highlight criticism of mums breastfeeding, we must remember that they concentrate on the stories that create the discord rather then celebrate the positive everyday experiences which go without comment. When you start breastfeeding in public, you will suddenly notice how many other mums are doing just the same and any reservations or fears you have will dissipate as your confidence grows.
We’ve put together the following tips to help build your confidence for breastfeeding in public.
Know your rights
In the UK it is legal for you to breastfeed almost anywhere you like unless it's against their policy (like a men's club for instance). A toilet or baby changing area are sometimes offered as a nursing area but these are not suitable for feeding your baby as they are unhygienic and full of lingering faeces germs which you and baby should not be exposed to. For a breakdown of legal advice for nursing in public, follow this link. Its also details what to do in the event of receiving criticism.
Latching on & off
Latching on & off are the key moments when you are likely to expose most flesh and breast whilst nursing your baby. If you are self conscious about this, angle away from onlookers or shield behind a friend or the edge of a scarf/cardigan whilst you latch on or off. Once baby is feeding well at the breast, there’s usually little flesh exposed and looks more like a baby having a cuddle.
Practice in the mirror
Sit down at home in front of a mirror and practice breastfeeding your baby to see for yourself how much flesh is actually on show and which tops suit you and your baby best. If you’re feeling self conscious, take a few extra moments to practice latching on and off discretely. Follow this link for more advice on establishing a good latch.
Find the right clothing
Nursing clothes like ours are specifically designed to keep your post natal tummy covered whilst offering access to feed your baby discreetly via hidden nursing openings. If you’re feeling self conscious, you will find that nursing wear minimises ‘exposure’ and will boost your confidence to breastfeed in public. There are now many flattering and easy to wear styles available to choose from which you can style to stay on trend. Our Pinterest boards and Blogs are full of easy styling ideas to keep you looking on trend.
This video shows you how to pop baby on the breast in the most discreet manner without requiring extra cloths to be draped over you and baby’s head.
If you don’t want to buy nursing tops, you can try using a vest top under another shirt that you lift up to feed under or a wear a button down shirt that you open and pull aside.
Respond to early hunger cues
Learn to interpret your baby’s hunger cues and prepare yourself for feeding. People are less likely to notice you if you are sat quietly breastfeeding than if you wait until your baby is crying for a feed. On the flip side, if you try to feed too early, then baby may not be ready to feed and your efforts will result in fussing at the breast or your baby not taking a full feed. Familiarising yourself with your baby's cues and routine are the key to your success.
Find an appropriate spot
Babies tend to stay latched on & feed better at the breast if you are in a quiet subdued atmosphere than when there is lots of noisy activity nearby. This is especially true as a baby gets older and more curious of it’s surroundings. For older babies, have a muslin cloth to hand to cover your breast if baby pops on and off to look around. This will not only preserve your modesty but also catch any milk spraying mid flow.
It’s important to feel comfortable and have support under your arm when nursing. So when you are looking for an appropriate spot, think of which breastfeeding positions you and baby prefer and choose a comfortable seat that allows for this. In any situation, try using your nappy bag in lieu of a nursing pillow for resting your supporting arm on whilst you feed.
Breastfeeding in an establishment
Baby friendly, child friendly and breastfeeding friendly establishments are all good places to nurse your baby without the risk of ‘offending’ anyone. If you’re in doubt, ask the establishment when you enter if they mind you breastfeeding. They may also be displaying a Breastfeeding Friendly sticker on their entrance door. If you’re feeling self conscious, find a seat which offers relative privacy (like a booth or sofa chair that offers more side coverage than a dining chair) or somewhere you can shield yourself from onlookers with the buggy or potted plant.
Remember to stay relaxed and offer any onlookers a smile whilst you nurse. Breastfeeding is one of the most natural things to do and you shouldn’t assume that anyone looking is criticising you, they may simply be looking on you fondly, perhaps remembering their own nursing days.
Have a response ready
In the event of receiving negative comment, have a response ready. Saying something like “I’m sorry you feel offended but I need to feed my hungry baby now” could be a simple way of deflecting the situation. Disapproving comments are rare, trust us on that. You are giving your baby the best start you can which is infinitely more important than someone's ill-judged opinion.
Nurse in a sling or carrier
Breastfeeding in a sling or carrier can be a good way of keeping baby close, focused and out of the public eye whilst breastfeeding. Your carrier’s manufacturer should provide guidelines for breastfeeding using your sling for the best way to nurse on the go.
Encouraging role models
It’s always encouraging to see celebrities breastfeeding without a qualm despite being under the scrutiny of the public eye. These photos of celebrities nursing in public provide mums with a positive role model for normalising breastfeeding. But moreover, they are just mums responding to their baby’s nursing needs wherever and whenever they need it and we applaud them!