Breastfeeding in Public

When helping women with breastfeeding problems, I often hear from moms who say they can’t pump enough. When I ask questions about why they’re pumping, I often hear that they just want to have a bottle with them when they are out and about.

Your baby has a right to eat when he’s hungry no matter where you are. But you may feel unsure about breastfeeding in public – especially if this is your first baby. But breastfeeding wherever you happen to be can be simple and discreet.

Some tips may help increase your comfort level so you can feed your baby at the breast while running errands, sitting at the café, or enjoying time at the park:

  • Practice in front of a mirror: Sit down at home and feed your baby in front of a mirror. Notice how little you can see of the process after the initial latch (and even then!).
  • Dress the part: Wear two-piece outfits or dress in layers, wear clothes you’re comfortable in, and wear a bra that’s easy to use. If you’re wearing a button front shirt, unbutton from bottom rather than the top. If you’re wearing a cardigan, the sides will likely hide your latching baby. There’s no need to buy specialty clothing – though many options do exist. If you want to have a nursing tank top or t-shirt to layer under you other clothes, you can make a homemade version by cutting slits in the front of an old camisole or t-shirt. If you’re wearing a scarf, you may be able to use it as a convenient cover – while latching or throughout the feeding.
  • Wear your baby: If you’re using a sling or a wrap, the material from the carrier will cover your body and will make latching a little easier.
  • Use a blanket or a ready-made breastfeeding cover: Sometimes just having something covering you will increase your comfort, though don’t feel obligated to cover yourself. Having a blanket thrown over your cradled baby is sometimes like a neon sign saying ‘Hey! I’m breastfeeding!’ Also, covers may work for newborns, but after a couple of months, your baby may resist being blocked from the world.
  • Find a comfortable place: You’re going to be sitting there for as long as it takes your baby to finish, so you likely don’t want to be delicately perched on a low wall. While it doesn’t necessarily need to be someplace secluded, if you’re seeking privacy you might choose a fitting room or your vehicle. But the park bench is fine, too! Just don’t choose the bathroom – would you want to eat in there? Consider using your diaper bag or handbag to pillow your elbow while you’re feeding.
  • Follow your baby’s hunger cues: It’s easier to latch a baby when he’s showing early hunger cues. A ravenous, screaming baby calls attention to you, and makes latching more difficult.
  • Practice: If you’re especially nervous, get comfortable nursing in front of others at home or at a mother-to-mother breastfeeding support meeting. Ultimately, you could nurse right before you leave the house and, if you get your timing right, you may be home before baby is ready to nurse again.

Most of all radiate confidence! You’re doing the absolute best for your baby. Smile and keep feeding your baby.

Written by Michelle, childbirth instructor, lactation consultant, and mother to 4 busy kids

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2016. All rights reserved.