I always knew that if I ever had a baby I would breastfeed, I have no problem with mothers who bottle feed but I knew that wasn’t the feeding method for me. Before I had my babies, one of the things that worried me about breastfeeding was how I would feel when it came to feeding my baby out of the house. Unfortunately, breastfeeding in public is still seen as a bit controversial and is a bit of a taboo subject, I have no idea why as women have been doing it forever. Because of this often negative view of breastfeeding in public places, nursing mums can often feel self conscious and nervous when feeding out and about. I know from my experience as a first time Mum at 22 how stressed and anxious I felt feeding Leo out of the house in those early weeks.
Now, I’m almost 3 months into feeding my second baby and I will seriously feed him anywhere. If he is hungry then I’m going to feed him whether that’s at home, in a coffee shop or on platform 3 at the train station. When it comes to breastfeeding in public I have learnt not to be self conscious and I am so much more confident now than I was as a first time breastfeeding mummy. If you are pregnant or a new mummy who is nervous about feeding your baby out of the house, here is my quick guide to breastfeeding in public with confidence.
How to breastfeed in public with confidence.
1. Dress for the occasion – When feeding your baby you are obviously going to have to get your boob out, it’s unavoidable. However, the less flesh you have on display the more confident you will feel. I like to wear a nursing vest top under a normal top, this way my mum tum is still hidden and the top of my chest isn’t on display either. I just lift the top layer up and pull the bottom layer down enough to latch baby on. It’s easy and discrete and I feel relaxed that all anyone can see is my baby’s head and my clothes. I would never judge a mum for exposing more if she wants to while feeding but I have found the ‘2 top’ method is the best way for me to feel relaxed and at ease while feeding.
2. Timing is everything – When a newborn is hungry they are hungry now. I have always found more people are likely to stare if your baby is screaming bloody murder than if you are just sat feeding them. I have had the whole of Costa watch as I attempted to latch a screaming Leo on as I didn’t pick up on his hungry cues early enough and by the time we sat down he was screeching his head off. To avoid the unwanted stares try and time your stops around feeds while you’re out so you can feed your baby just when they start to get hungry, not when their cries are drawing attention to your table like a moth to a flame.
3. Use a cover – OK so I don’t do this but if you are struggling to feel comfortable feeding your baby in public then a breastfeeding cover can bring you some much needed confidence when you’re out and about. There are loads of gorgeous feeding covers available or you can save some money and improvise. When Alex was taking a decade to latch on in the very early days I used to pop a scarf around us both or tie a muslin cloth to my bra strap and drape it over his head. This was just as effective as using a cover and meant I didn’t have to try and fit an extra thing in my changing bag, I only like to take out the essentials in my nappy bag.
4. Choose your feeding spot wisely – I know I said at the start of this post that I’d feed my babies anywhere and, while that is true, there are places I feel a lot more comfortable feeding than others. I have fed Leo in a busy pub full of rugby fans on a Saturday afternoon, ignoring stares from one or two strangers is easy but trying to avoid the gaze of a pub full of drunken men is a bit more difficult. Coffee shops are my favourite place to feed as they are normally just occupied by other parents or old people. I would suggest places like this are a good place to start and then as your confidence grows you will just naturally feel happy feeding wherever. It takes time as getting your boob out for the world to see feels like the most unnatural thing ever at first but soon it won’t feel like a big deal at all. I would recommend avoiding pubs on match day if you can help it though! If you are really worried about what people may say, look for places with the breastfeeding welcome sticker , atleast then you know the staff will have your back if there were to be a confrontation and if anyone tries to say something you can just point at the sticker while internally telling them to eff off!
5. Remember, you’re just feeding your baby – This is the most important point, if you ignore everything else I have said please just remember this. You have every right to feed your baby in public and your baby has every right to be fed when he is hungry. You are not doing anything wrong by breastfeeding in public, all you are doing is giving your baby some food. Breastfeeding should not be considered any different to a mother sat in a cafe feeding her baby a bottle or a baby sat in a high chair being fed their lunch in a restaurant. Breastfeeding is not gross, it’s not sexual, it’s not inappropriate. Breastfeeding is simply one of the ways mothers choose to feed their babies and if someone has a problem with that then remember it is them who’s in the wrong, not you. If anyone ever stares too long at you while you’re feeding or tells you you shouldn’t be doing it, just tell them you’re feeding your baby and leave it at that. Unless you’re up for a big debate then go for it, you’ll win it for sure.
Unfortunately some people are idiots but don’t let those few idiots stop you getting out and about with your new baby, breastfeeding in public is not a big deal and it can be done easily. Don’t stay hidden away, go shopping and go for walks, show your new baby off to the world and if they get hungry when you’re out then just feed them. You can do it, promise.
How do you feel about breastfeeding in public? If you do it, does it make you nervous or can you do it confidently? Have you ever had anyone say anything to you? If you don’t do it, do you even care if you see another mum breastfeeding? I’m guessing you probably don’t, I think us Mums build it up to be a really big deal but, on the most part, no one is even looking. I’d love to know your thoughts on this and if you have any pregnant friends or know anyone who would benefit from reading this then I would love for you to share this post.