As a new mom the thought of nursing your baby in public can be intimidating
When I had my first baby breastfeeding was such a new experience. I also had concerns about what other people might think of me breastfeeding in public. Happily, I can say that with a little practice those concerns are gone. Now that I am nursing my second baby I really don't care what anyone thinks and it's very liberating!
I have had people make comments to me suggesting that I never leave the house since I breastfeed. Or that it ties you down. What? No, I find breastfeeding in public easy once you get the hang of it. I never have to plan to bring anything for my baby to eat. I always have the milk with me. No bottles, no mixing, and no forgetting anything. But in the beginning it was somewhat intimating so that's why making yourself comfortable is important.
Tips for breastfeeding in public
I want to be clear, you do not need to do anything special to feed your baby in public. I am sharing this in the hope of helping other moms who might not be that comfortable yet, are still getting the hang of nursing, or want to be discreet for whatever reason. For the record though, I think we should all be able to feed our babies however, wherever and whenever we want.
1. Know your rights
In most states there are laws protecting breastfeeding mothers as well as a federal law. It's surprising to me when I hear stories about breastfeeding mothers being asked to move somewhere more discreet. While it does not happen often, I can't believe it happens at all. I think most people who make these mistakes really don't understand breastfeeding. It's their own discomfort with a breast and it's pretty ridiculous.
People are starting to understand that breastfeeding is the biologically normal way to feed your baby. The general population is becoming more accepting of nursing in public and those who are not are the minority. Don't worry about what these people think. I know I worried about this a bit when I was a new mom but looking back I wonder why. When you breastfeed in public you are fulfilling your baby's needs. You are also normalizing it for other women and children which is an amazing feeling.
2. Practice at home before heading out
Getting latch issues figured out and doing a few test runs will make you feel more confidant.
3. Pay attention to timing
I usually try to feed my baby anytime I am about to leave the house. This always buys me some time before the next feeding. I also love to nurse in the car. It's an easy way to feed your baby without distractions or worrying about your clothes or a cover.
4. Find comfortable places to nurse your baby
When out shopping it is very easy to pop in a dressing room. Some department stores have nice lounges with areas separate from the bathroom. At restaurants I have found it more comfortable to nurse in a booth than a chair. Making sure you feel comfortable can definitely help ease anxiety. Having room around you and a place to rest your arms is always helpful. I like to use my diaper bag as an arm rest when needed.
5. Use covers if you feel the need
Nursing covers come in tons of cute styles and patterns. They do cover you up but some babies hate them. It's also obvious you are nursing a baby under there. Not that it matters, but some mothers don't want any kind of attention.
I found that nursing covers worked for me when my babies were very young and as long as it was not too hot. They tended to fall asleep nursing and the cover creates a nice cozy place to sleep. Once babies get a little older they tend to want to pull them off.
6. Use a lightweight blanket
Better than a cover, is a multiple use blanket. I love the aden and anais blankets. They are soft and light and they are usually my go to cover while nursing. Both of my babies have loved cuddling these blankets while nursing.
7. Learn how to nurse in a sling or baby carrier
It's an easy and discreet way to breastfeed and you can even walk around while doing it. No need to slow down to breastfeed! I will be covering different carriers in more detail in my product reviews.
Nursing/Breastfeeding in the Ergo baby carrier
Nursing/Breastfeeding in the Sakura Bloom ring sling
8. Use nursing bras
While some people prefer sports bras or just pulling down a regular bra, I found it much easier with a nursing bra. At least in the early days when you are breastfeeding very frequently. Once my first baby was older I did use a regular bra but that was because the frequency of nursing was much lower. When you are feeding every couple of hours it's great to have access as quickly as possible.
Nursing tanks can be used instead of a bra. Undercover Mama makes a tank that hooks onto your bra. It makes any bra a nursing tank. I have used these and they are awesome!
9. Wear the right clothing
With your bra or tank in place it's easy to wear a V neck shirt or a button down shirt. I like to layer a bra or tank with a shirt over it and just lift the shirt up or down. There are also many shirts and dresses designed especially for nursing. I have gotten some great shirts at figure8 maternity & nursing. I even got a nursing swimsuit there.
I have also used scarfs to cover myself while nursing. A regular scarf works fine but now there are some that double as a nursing cover as well.
10. Anticipate your baby's needs
The most important thing you can do to help keep things calm while nursing in public is try to anticipate your baby's needs and keep them happy and fed. That is why I always offer a feeding before I leave the house and usually when I get to my destination. It's better to anticipate before you have a screaming bundle. A crying baby will usually draw more attention than breastfeeding in public.
I hope you found these tips helpful. Please let me know your feelings on breastfeeding in public and what tips you have to make it easier? I would love to hear from you!
Wednesday 25th of March 2015
Hi Jen! Great tips! I loved using my Aden + Anais blankets since they were breathable. I always found a hard time finding the right nursing tanks that were affordable, so I pretty much just lived in tank tops.
Wednesday 25th of March 2015
Thanks Danica! I always used the Aden + Anais blankets too! Those things are so versatile and I always had one with me when my babies were little.
Monday 25th of August 2014
Great read! Wish my nurse/doc would have been more supportive when I had my twins. Nevertheless, I pumped for two as long as I could!
Monday 25th of August 2014
Thanks Mon! Pumping for two is amazing! You did a great job :)