Prepare to breastfeed in public for the first time with four easy steps, written by an experienced mom.
There are many factors that make breastfeeding in public an intimidating prospect. Whether you’re a new mom, or simply a first-time breastfeeder, taking it public can be daunting. Once you’ve done it a few times it’s no big deal, but what about getting started? Here are a few tips to help prepare you for nursing in public, and hopefully put your mind at ease!
Step One: Get Equipped
If modesty is your biggest challenge with nursing in public you might want to invest in a large, lightweight blanket, or a nursing cover. Practice using these at home will increase changes of a smooth transition to public use, though your baby may still fight not to have his or her head covered.
Wearing a layered wardrobe or specifically designed nursing clothes will help with accessibility. Remember, if you’re doing this on your own your hands might be full of the baby and you won’t want to struggle with restrictive tops or undergarments.
If you use a pillow or some sort of nursing support at home you may want a travel version. Some inflatable nursing pillows work well, or you could just bring an extra fluffy baby blanket and fold it up to use as a prop.
Step Two: Plan Ahead
When possible, plan errands for places that will offer a comfortable, quiet place to sit. Some stores offer mother’s rooms specifically for nursing moms, while other places like a mall food court might have a chair and a partially-shielded corner where you won’t feel too exposed. Aim to be in or near these places around feeding times. Layer your diaper bag with nursing supplies in order of use. Perhaps a water bottle for yourself on top, followed by a fluffy blanket, a nursing cover, and then the rest of the diaper bag contents underneath.
Step Three: Relax
It can be very stressful trying to coordinate an unhappy baby with setting up an impromptu nursing station in a public place. In these moments, it’s important to remember that many mothers have been in the same position you are, and they have all survived and thrived. Once you’ve nursed in public a few times, self-consciousness related to a crying baby or a flash of flesh will ease and you’ll find it doesn’t bother you so much anymore. Plus, it may seem like the whole world is watching you nurse your baby, but the truth is that many people won’t even notice what you’re doing once you’re settled in. Ultimately, you have the right to nurse wherever you please, and feeding your baby is more important than the stares of strangers who you will never see again. So, take a deep breath, and don’t worry about anyone but yourself and your child.
A Note Regarding Supportive or Unsupportive Observers
Sometimes, patrons will take it upon themselves to interact with you while you’re nursing. Most interactions will be positive: a supportive smile, a few words of encouragement, you may be surprised at how encouraging strangers can be. Others will not be so supportive and might want to address it with you. If you’re new to breastfeeding in public, it might feel that you have to explain yourself or apologize, but that is never the case. You and your baby have rights and deserve respect. Be bold, and remind yourself that you’re doing a wonderful thing for your child and yourself. With a little practice, this will be just another part of your day and you’ll wonder what you were ever worried about in the first place.