Many new moms are concerned about breastfeeding in pubic. If you’re feeling anxious, here are 4 tips that can make your experience feeding your baby in public more seamless and enjoyable.
1. Practice at home
If you’re worried about being exposed, you can practice feeding your baby in front of a mirror at home or have your partner take photos of you while you’re nursing. This will give you a better idea of what other people will be able to see from their point of view. You may be surprised to find out that feeding babies can look very discreet.
2. Wear easy access clothing
Nursing bras and easy access clothing can make feeding in public less of a hassle. It’s best if you can quickly access your breasts with one hand. Nursing bras and tanks are great for this and pair well with flowy tops. Here’s a link to my favorite comfy nursing bra. Dresses can be tricky unless made specifically for nursing or have easy access from the top. Covers made for nursing might help when you’re getting the hang of things, but some babies may not tolerate them well especially if it’s hot or uncomfortable. Remember, it’s possible to discreetly and comfortably feed your baby without a cover but may just take some practice. The more often you feed your baby in public, the more natural it will feel.
3. Make a plan in advance
Babies feed on demand so it’s not always possible to plan for everything. But if you’re feeling nervous about feeding your baby in public, you can make a plan in advance. You may be able to find a more secluded spot where you and your baby will feel more relaxed. Or you can research the location ahead of time to see if they have designated rooms or spaces available for nursing mothers. Some mothers choose to feed their babies or pump in the car so that could be an option as well.
4. Know your rights
All 50 states have laws that protect breastfeeding mothers. For example, in Tennessee, you have the right to breastfeed your child in any location, public or private, where you and your child are otherwise authorized to be. So, this means as long as you aren’t trespassing somewhere that you aren’t legally authorized to be, then you are protected to breastfeed your baby in that location, whether that’s a restaurant table, a bench at the zoo, in the front seat of your car, or a grassy area at the park.
Many people respond very well if they notice a woman breastfeeding in public. You may receive a nod or smile. Or they may not even notice at all because it just looks like you’re holding your baby. However, people have different attitudes and options about breastfeeding due to their own knowledge, experiences and culture. If you do receive harsh comments or looks, you can respond with kindness or file a complaint if you feel that a particular establishment has been discriminatory. Remember, that you’re doing an amazing thing by responding to and meeting your baby’s needs in that moment.
Hopefully the cultural norm will shift so that seeing women breastfeeding in public is a normal part of everyday life. In the meantime, you have an amazing opportunity to be a part of this shift for future generations simply by feeding your baby in front of others and not making a big deal of it when you notice others do the same.
If you’re reading this and still feeling too anxious to breastfeed in public, then pumping and bottle feeding could be a good option for you, at least for right now. There’s not just one right way to do it. Remember that however you choose to feed your baby, you’re doing a great job, mama!