You’ve just sat down in a restaurant. You smile at your husband and begin to open your menu. As you start discussing the list of drinks, you hear a whimper and a stir. You look up apologetically at your husband and turn your focus to the baby. The diaper is dry, the pacifier won’t hold, and your baby is licking their lips and shoving their entire first in their mouth. This can only mean one thing so you unbuckle the seat belt or take baby out of the wrap, cradle hold your baby, take out your breast, and watch as baby settles down. You smile at your husband, flip through the menu with your free hand, and continue to discuss dinner options.
Or do you? Too often women shy away from this situation. A situation that is nothing but natural and normal. A common occurrence within the breastfeeding community of women is being uncomfortable nursing in public. For some, it’s a nerve-wracking task and for some it’s like an attached limb they’ve had their whole life. It’s understandable. For years, women’s breasts have been seen sexually rather than biologically. We favor bra ads but shy away from sharing information about breastfeeding. I’ve talked to so many new mothers who are scared of leaving the house because they don’t know what to do in this situation. Hopefully these tips can help:
Start at home. Breastfeeding may be natural but it’s not always easy. If you’re worried about breast exposure, try latching baby on at home and you’ll find you don’t expose much at all. Try different ways out. Try it with a cover and without a cover. Try it with a blanket over your shoulder that you can pull onto baby’s head until latched. Over time, you’ll be a ninja at breastfeeding without exposing much at all. Experiment and find what works for you.
Wear Appropriate Attire
I get disheveled easily. Breastfeeding in public was a snap once I wore more accessible clothing. I highly recommend a nursing bra if you don’t already have one. Besides my breasts and my pump, it’s my most valued breastfeeding tool. These are the best and easiest outfits I’ve found:
– Two piece outfits. Pants, shorts or skirts paired with a nursing bra and a loose top is the easiest outfit and my go-to. Lift your shirt from the bottom and baby can access the breast. You can pull the shirt down enough to cover any breast exposure and help make you more comfortable. If you are uncomfortable about any belly showing, you can wear a belly band or a tank top underneath your shirt.
– Dresses are wonderful as long as they are an easy, flexible material so you can pull down and access the breast.
– If you have the cash, splurge on a couple nursing clothes that already have the holes sewn in.
– Nursing tanks are great too. Buy a couple different colors and wear them with a cover up.
Pick A Comfortable Spot
Breastfeeding in public is so much easier when you find a cozy spot to sit. Making this experience comfortable will help you calm any anxiety you may have. This may mean a fitting room at a retail store, a park bench when walking around, your car at the grocery store, or a restaurant booth. You want enough space for you, your baby, and whatever else you have with you.
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS
Some people will get uncomfortable and feel obliged to say something to you. That is their own personal issue. You are within your rights and the rights of nature. Breastfeeding in public is LEGAL in many places and for good reason. No one has the right to discriminate against you for feeding your child nor can anyone prevent you from doing so. They shouldn’t be asking you to feed elsewhere or disturbing you whatsoever.
If you’re in the states, this site summarizes the statutes for each state.
The trick to anything is acting confident.. even when you aren’t. You know you are doing something crucial for your child’s livelihood so own it. Smile if someone frowns at you. If someone responds negatively, here are some witty comebacks you can use. Remember, not everyone that stares at you, is staring for a negative reason. Some may be genuinely curious. If it’s hard to find your confidence, look at your baby while you’re feeding and remind yourself what’s truly important. You can also join The Badass Breastfeeder for a positive boost and more breastfeeding information and watch this video to give yourself a little laugh.
Just Do It
I know, I know. It’s easier said than done but I promise, once you do it, you’ll be refreshed. You’ll get so used to it, you won’t ever think twice of hiding away in your car or in the restroom. After a couple times, your confidence will be exploding and you’ll be a pro.