When preparing to give a speech in public, people say “picture everyone in the audience naked” to try to ease your fears and anxiety. Maybe the same logic applies to breastfeeding in public? Nope — and it shouldn’t have to. All kidding aside, when you’re embarking on your journey into breastfeeding it can be completely overwhelming. Learning how to breastfeed an infant is hard (and every baby is different!).
Taking that task out of the comfort of your home and into public can be intimidating. However, feeding your baby is one of the most important things you’re doing every single day. Young babies have a physiological need to feed frequently, and health organizations around the world support and promote breastfeeding. If you’re feeling anxious or concerned about breastfeeding in public, here are some tips to feel great doing it.
Wear breastfeeding-friendly clothes
Tops that allow for easy and timely access for baby to nurse will make a breastfeeding session easier. Nursing bras, tanks, and tops designed specifically for breastfeeding are all available. However, it’s completely possible to wear breastfeeding-friendly clothes without spending extra money on nursing specific tops; an example would be wearing a tank top underneath an open button-up shirt, or a loose fitting t-shirt. The last thing you want is to be wrestling with a tight dress or turtleneck! (Trust me — been there, done that!)
Consider using a blanket or nursing cover
Some women opt to use some sort of cover up, especially when baby is very young and nursing sessions are often long and you are still getting the hang of things. Using a soft muslin blanket, a specific nursing cover, or even a wrap, sling, or carrier if you are wearing your baby are great options to provide you with some privacy. You can even use a blanket for the initial latch only, which is usually when women feel most uncomfortable.
Breastfeeding friendly places
So this a bit of a sticky topic, because technically all places are breastfeeding friendly! That being said, some businesses go the extra mile to make sure women know that breastfeeding is welcome in their establishment. Knowing this can make the experience of breastfeeding in public a bit less daunting. An example of this is looking for this sticker outside of a business in British Columbia:
All that said, know that it’s your right to feed your baby anywhere you chose. If you feel uncomfortable or pressured by those around you to move while feeding your baby, how you decide to approach the situation is your choice, but know that you do not have to move or cover up.
As your baby gets older, she will become more distracted by her surroundings and want to spend her time looking around at everything going on. She may also protest a blanket or cover, if you’re using one. In order for baby to get an effective feed, it may be easier for you to move to a quieter spot, such as an empty table in the back of a restaurant, a dedicated nursing room, a quiet park bench, or an empty bedroom at a friend’s house. Maintain eye contact with your babe and keep her focused on you. Some Mom’s like to wear baby-friendly necklaces for their little ones to play with while nursing to keep their attention.
The early days of breastfeeding a new infant are tough; both you and baby are learning how to do this effectively, efficiently, and with ease. Have confidence that things will get easier. Know that your bonding time with baby while breastfeeding is precious… enjoy it!
If you’re having trouble establishing effective breastfeeding, or feel that you and your baby need more support, please reach out. As Mama Coaches, we are lactation consultants or counselors, as well as Mama’s ourselves, and we are here to help. You got this Mama!