Breastfeeding is easily the most intimate bonding experience that a mom can have with her baby. For the first 18 months or a baby’s life or more, a mom has to breastfeed her baby. Breastfeeding is the primary source of food for the baby and for moms that plan to breastfeed only, it’s the only source of food. Having to breastfeed at all hours can be a challenge especially for working moms or for when the mom is out. Some people frown at breastfeeding in public which is just ridiculous, however, it is nonetheless in some areas. Mom’s have to be prepared for breastfeeding in public. Below are some tips to have and things to keep in mind if you are a breastfeeding mom and if you have to breastfeed in public.
Know your rights
Keep in mind that breastfeeding in public is absolutely legal and not only that, its a perfectly good and natural thing to do. You are nourishing your baby with the most biologically appropriate food, and—as a great side benefit—you are educating any young men and women who might happen to see you. No one should prevent you from nursing your child simply because you are in a public area. No one has the right to ask you to cover up or move or disturb or harass you. So know your rights, and be confident as you feed your baby.
Practice at home
If you are a first-time mom or if you don’t feel fully confident about breastfeeding in public, you can practice at home and even sometimes in front of a mirror. A nursing baby covers your breast rather efficiently. You can try nursing in different outfits to see which ones work for you and your baby. Some babies can’t stand any fabric touching their faces as they nurse, others are less bothered by it, so experiment to find your best options. This will reassure you and make you feel more prepared and confident when you have to nurse in public.
Choose clothes you’ll feel comfortable in
This is another way you can prepare. If you are going out with your baby, wear clothing that you can breastfeed from easily. There are specially-made nursing clothes that have hidden openings to make breastfeeding easier available to buy. You can also put together nursing outfits from ordinary clothes. A loose-fitting T-shirt is often a good choice in casual situations, because you can simply lift up the shirt on one side to feed the baby. If it’s loose, the extra fabric will cover most of your belly and breast. A shirt that buttons down the front can be unbuttoned from the bottom to nurse, or unbuttoned from the top if your baby doesn’t like fabric touching his face while he’s breastfeeding.
The belly bands that many women wear when they are pregnant can work well to cover up your postpartum tummy when you lift up your shirt. Put a cardigan, loose unbuttoned shirt, or jacket over a T-shirt, tank top or shirt, and you’ll also have most exposed skin covered up while baby’s at the breast. You can also take a snug-fitting tank top, cut two slits in the front large enough and in the right position for you to breastfeed, and wear that under your shirt, T-shirt or jacket for extra coverage.
Also, chose an easy access bra or a bra made specially for breastfeeding. Many mothers find a stretchy sports-type bra works well for them; rather than having to undo a snap or other fastening, they can simply pull the cup of the bra down under their breasts to feed the baby. If you are using a nursing bra where you need to lower the cup, it might help to practise undoing it one-handed at home (and doing it up again after) so that you’re confident about managing it out in public.
Use a breastfeeding wrap
There are lots of breastfeeding slings or wraps available to help you while breastfeeding. With practice, you can breastfeed your baby in most slings or wraps and the fabric of the baby carrier will cover the baby and your breast. You can even walk around while breastfeeding! If you’ve pulled up your shirt from the bottom to make your breast accessible, you may want a belly band or tank top underneath, as your tummy may be exposed.
Pick a spot to breastfeed
When you’re in public and need to feed, find a place where you’re comfortable and where you have enough room to organize yourself and don’t worry too much about who might see you. There’s no point in walking around with a crying baby as you look for a place where you won’t be visible. Feeding your child takes priority always remember that. You can turn away to latch and then take your comfortable position. Latching is when you are likely to show the most skin. You can do the same when you have to unlatch.
Get a cover-up
As much as it’s your right, there are times when you might feel uncomfortable breastfeeding in public. It’s always a good idea to have a cover up in your diaper bag like a nursing covers or baby blankets. You may want to try covering your baby and breast with the baby blanket or nursing cover. Another type of cover-up some mothers have used is a broad-brimmed sun hat on the baby. This might be more acceptable to babies who hate blankets over their faces, and it does cover much of your breast. Be sure to practise at home, because many babies dislike having a blanket over their heads while nursing and will pull it off or fuss. For some women, a cover-up can make all the difference between feeling comfortable nursing in public and not wanting to do it at all.
Last but not least, remember to relax and be comfortable while you breastfeed. Don’t tense up or feel like you are doing something you have to hide or be ashamed off. Remember to bond with your baby and be your best self!