I’ve wanted to write this article since the moment I started breastfeeding. But here I am now, all done with nursing (we’ve made it till 1.7 years. Yay!) and I sat down to say a word about it. The urge that I have came from my girlfriend who asked me a simple question today “Do you approve breastfeeding in public or not”?
Okay, I get it. She’s not a mama yet, so it’s alright for her to ask this kind of a question. But then she said that a mother who actually BREASTFED her child told her that breastfeeding in public is disgusting. It’s like having sex in front of people you don’t know.
I mean, I get it if it wasn’t a mama saying this. But, dear Lord. Seriously?
First, how can you even compare having sex and breastfeeding a child? What is going on in your head? Why do you sexualize this process? You CAN live without SEX, but you CAN’T live without FOOD, which is what breastfeeding is about, right? It’s about satisfying your basic need of hunger.
Second, what are you going to do if you go out (let’s say unexpectedly, so you didn’t have a chance to pump, for example) and it’s time for your baby to get some food? Are you going to go to the restroom and breastfeed your child in the toilet where others ease themselves? If so, imagine yourself eating the most delicious burger sitting on the toilet, where people right next to you poop, fart or vomit (God knows what else is happening in the public toilets). Would you like that? I bet you wouldn’t. So why would you make your baby do the same?
Let’s see. Breast milk is the only acceptable food for newborns and babies up to 6 months old (I’m talking now only about moms who chose to breastfeed their babies). Yes, you can pre-plan, pump at home and get the bottle with breastmilk with you, if you go out. But why do you need these difficulties if you can wear a special breastfeeding clothes and nurse like a pro, nobody would even get that you’re doing it.
It’s all about balance, right?
What I am absolutely against for when it comes to breastfeeding in public
I can tell you that I’m against mommies who breastfeed in public, flashing their nipples or exposing their breasts to others.
It’s NOT COOL.
Yes, you are a breastfeeding mom. But there just can be people who don’t get it, like women who weren’t in your shoes yet or men who would find it insulting because they sexualise every moving object, not to mention your bare breast and the newborn sucking your nipple (I know it’s not your problem but you have to think of other people’s comfort, too, if you want to breastfeed in public).
But it’s just me! You may think otherwise.
AND THAT’S OKAY, TOO!
As long as your baby is satisfied.
Every woman decides for herself what is RIGHT and what is WRONG when it comes to breastfeeding in public.
All I want to say is breastfeeding in public is 100% LEGAL! So no one actually have this right to say something negative that will make you feel bad about what you’re doing!
However, my initial idea for writing this post was to show how a mom could make breastfeeding in public comfortable not only for herself and her baby, but for other people around as well.
In this case, here’s what I’m going to say.
What I am absolutely up for is well-organised and thought through breastfeeding in public
I’ve made this mistakes as well when I just started breastfeeding. I didn’t wear a special clothes for breastfeeding. I was exposing my breast while nursing. I once had a woman telling me to cover up my bare breast because she didn’t want to see it. A WOMAN! I was so insulted that time. I didn’t think people could get uncomfortable around me exposing breastfeeding for the heck of it. Just because it was so natural, I thought.
The truth is, yes, breastfeeding is natural. But who cares? 🙂
Some people get distracted seeing your bare breast.
Some feel discomfort.
Some lose their appetite.
Some just don’t like it. For many reason (I don’t even want to dive into it right now)
AND THAT’S TOTALLY FINE!
People have their own right to feel that way. Any way.
Then I thought of all these people and put myself into their shoes. That was when I realised I was doing something wrong.
Your job is to make breastfeeding in public as invisible as possible and comfortable not only for you and the baby, but for others as well. So how to make breastfeeding in public comfortable for EVERYONE?
Here’s how you can do it. I’ve got some great tips for you covered, mama! 🙂
13 TIPS FOR BREASTFEEDING IN PUBLIC
1. WEAR SPECIAL BREASTFEEDING CLOTHES
During my first months of breastfeeding I didn’t really pay attention to clothes I was wearing outside the house. Since we weren’t on a breastfeeding schedule (I breastfed frequently during the day and night), I learned pretty fast that flashing my full bare breast to strangers is nothing that I liked too much, so I figured at first that wearing layers was a good way out. And it really was. But then I started browsing and found so many nice clothes made specially for breastfeeding women. I didn’t order much, but I’ve thought through what items of clothes I needed for my breastfeeding wardrobe.
So I ended up with this list of items I purchased:
And the funny thing is that I’m still wearing ALL of them (and I stopped breastfeeding 3 months ago), because they are just SO stylish! 🙂 Besides, when you start wearing special clothes for nursing mamas, you’ll see how comfy and invisible for others it might be to breastfeed in public.
2. CONSIDER USING A BREASTFEEDING COVER (if you want some privacy).
Sometimes places you want to breastfeed at are really crowded and getting some privacy is a good thing. I always had a Nursing Cover with me, just in case I felt uncomfortable from people gawking at me while I’m breastfeeding or to prevent my baby from getting distracted with the surroundings (which makes breastfeeding really challenging).
3. FIND THE RIGHT PLACE
I’ve never been a fan of breastfeeding in a crowded place. This is a rather intimate process and the less people surround you, the better. When in a restaurant, chose a table in the corner of the room. If you’re walking in the park, find the bench that is far-off the places with too many people. The last thing you wanna deal with is looks-loos that may disturb you from the process.
4. COVER UP TO LATCH
When your baby’s latching, you might accidentally flash your nipple to the public (which is no big deal, of course, but it can cause a wave of unsatisfied or offended people’s looks at yourself). First, learn how to cover your breast while latching your baby on or just turn away from the people’s sight until you get the right latch. Second, make sure to turn on your sense of humor in case the accident with the nipple does happen.
5. KEEP YOU BABY FOCUSED ON BREASTFEEDING
Nothing is easier than nursing newborns or babies under 4-6 months. They know their only business is sucking your breast to get the food. And then they pass off to sleep. Loved this period. Too bad it didn’t last long. Once your baby gets older, it’s a whole other story how to manage with breastfeeding in public. Babies around the age of 8-10 months get distracted easily. From every single thing! So it’s great to learn some tricks for keeping your baby’s attention focused on breastfeeding. You might want to consider investing in a good distraction your baby could play with, like this Multicolor Chewbeads. I did and it payed 200% off! My baby loved playing with them and chewing them when we had troubles with teething.
6. BREASTFEED WITH CONFIDENCE
Dear mama, remember, if you chose to breastfeed, know that breast is best! Anywhere, anytime. You are giving your baby the best food he or she can ever have, alongside with antibodies to various infections, agents preventing allergies and numerous illnesses in babies (and older aged children); you’re giving connection and this special bond that is impossible to get any way other than breastfeeding. Think of that first. And then breastfeed with confidence. You’re doing a great job! The most important job.
7. KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!
Breastfeeding in public is absolutely legal. Here’s what The Ontario Human Rights Commission states about breastfeeding in public:
“No one should prevent you from nursing your child simply because you are in a public area. They should not ask you to “cover up,” disturb you, or ask you to move to another area that is more “discreet.”
8. BREASTFEED IN A SLING
A sling is another variation of a breastfeeding cover. Kinda. If you learn how to do it right. Actually, it might be incredibly comfortable!
9. WEAR SPECIAL BREASTFEEDING BRA
That’s a no-brainer. It’s impossible to nurse without a Nursing Bra. I wore them 24/7. Everywhere. Even during the night. From the very first day of nursing to the last. Because they are just so comfy. I can’t even imagine how to breastfeed in public without wearing a special bra.
10. MAKE SURE TO CONTROL THE LEAKAGE
Breastfeeding women are divided into two groups. Those who have their breasts leaking during the let-down, and those who don’t. I was in the first group. And I hated it. Because every time I unexpectedly ran out of nursing pads or forgot to put them into my bra, I knew the catastrophe was inevitable. The catastrophe for my self-esteem, first of all. Because when you’re breastfeeding in public and your clothes becomes wet in the breast area, you just go bright red with shame. Which makes breastfeeding with confidence (#6 in the list) close to impossible. So make sure to stock up with some quality nursing pads.
It’s always good to plan your going out with baby in advance. Think what you need to take with you for comfortable breastfeeding in public.
Here’s my list of essentials:
- a breastfeeding bag It is absolutely amazing! Spacious enough to fit in your Laptop, together with all supplies you’ll need for going out with the baby (see the list below), plus, there will still be a room for a breast pump! A-maz-ing!
- a breastfeeding cover
- A water bottlea (with herbal tea or water for myself)
- an extra pair of nursing pads
- A burp cloth
- a T-shirt or a tank top (in case of the leakage or unexpected baby’s burping)
- headphones (to listen to an audio book while breastfeeding)
- wet wipes
- diapers (because babies poop a lot when they nurse)
- swaddling blankets (to put the baby on while changing diapers)
- extra clothes for the baby
These are my essentials I couldn’t leave the house without.
12. IF PEOPLE STARE AT YOU, SMILE BACK AT THEM
It’s all about confidence again and understanding you’re doing a very important job. You’re nourishing your child. So don’t make anyone who stares or frowns at your breastfeeding change that. Be nice and break their questioning looks with your flashing kind smile. It works! I promise 🙂
13. PRACTICE YOUR ANSWER TO NEGATIVE COMMENTS
What is the worst that can happen to you when you’re breastfeeding in public? Is the restaurant manager coming up at you telling to breastfeed in the toilet your worst fear? Or a stranger in the street that is telling you something negative about what you’re doing is wrong and you have to stop it? I get really sad when I hear these stories, but they still do exist. In this case, your best option would be preparing your response. Be polite, yet firmly state your point (especially that breastfeeding in the restroom is unacceptable for you)
My wish to the people who see a mom breastfeeding in public
Please, let us just be kind to each other. Let’s be kind to breastfeeding mamas. They are doing a great job! The best thing you can do is come up to her and make a compliment. No shaming, guys! The last thing a breastfeeding mom needs is someone being rude to her telling her that she’s crazy and doing something wrong.
My wish to a breastfeeding mom in public
You are AWESOME! Period. Don’t ever make anyone doubt that.
Here are real woman sharing their opinion about breastfeeding in public
Sindhya Babu, a Freelancer Engineer says:
I have breastfed my baby in public- both in India and Europe. My baby has had his milk in – malls, metros, restaurants, parks, zoo, temples just like we have our food in these places. Do you find anything wrong here? I don’t.
Nursing a child is essential and there is nothing shameful. Breastmilk and Breastfeeding are every child’s rights (of course except if the mama chooses not to). Babies don’t sexualize breasts like some adults do.
I think this question could be expressed as well in the following words: Do you think babies should eat?
That helps to understand what this topic truly is about. Are babies allowed to eat or not?
Not all the babies accept formula. Nor do they always conform to the ways in which their mothers try to make them eat.
In many situations, breastfeeding in public is the only way of feeding the baby.
Bless Biju says:
We live in a world where we can put up large hoardings of glamorous women advertising for bandeau.And yes ofcourse, we people can stare at it,since they might look appealing to us.
A women sitting on a bench with her little kid,breastfeeding him,for us seems to be an offence.
Now,what’s the difference between both the women mentioned above???
People sexualise both the women in their on way.But there is a huge difference.The former is treated just as a fashion icon but the latter is accused or deliberately scolded for not covering her breasts while feeding her own kid!!!
It’s not the activity of breastfeeding in the public has to be changed,Change your own mindsets people!She is feeding her own kid and remember,we also grew up after being breastfed by a woman!
It’s more than okay to breastfeeed a baby in public. It’s important to feed your baby wherever you are when s/he wants to breastfeed. DO THE RIGHT THING FOR YOUR BABY: BREASTFEED WHEREVER AND WHENEVER YOU WANT!!!!!!!! See links below!
- According to Time magazine, JAMA reports a Boston University study: increased time spent breast feeding improves intelligence. Breastfeeding and Other Early Influencers on Children’s IQ | TIME.com.
- Here is the JAMA abstract: Infant Feeding and Childhood Cognition at Ages 3 and 7 Years: Effects of Breastfeeding Duration and Exclusivity
You can read more opinions of women and MEN about breastfeeding in public here
What do you think?
Should a mom breastfeed in public or not? Share in comments below.
Share this post in your social media if you found it useful. Let’s show mamas they are WORTH breastfeeding in public with confidence!
I didn’t even think that was a question anymore, if it was right or wrong. I’ve gone to a job interview, for a nanny job, and the mother answered to door breastfeeding her baby uncovered. Mother’s breastfeed at the playgroups I go to, and at the library, and in the park. Maybe I just live in a different place, but i’ve never had anyone say anything to me or look at me funny breastfeeding in public. I feel bad that this is still thought of by anyone as an act that should only be kept private.
Thank you for sharing your tips and advice. I am a first time mother to a beautiful 1 month old and breastfeeding in public was something that I wasn’t very confident with. This has Helped me so much. Thank you!
I am so happy to hear that! 🙂 I wish you good luck with your breastfeeding journey. And if you are hesitant about something, you can always come back here and find support and advice!
Agree with most of your article, but other people’s comfort should not be a concern. It is far easier to look away and continue with your day than for a mother to successfully latch her child completely hidden. It’s hard, especially when they’re little, and sometimes they pop off without warning. Why should she hide? As you said, there should be no shame in feeding your child. The only way society will get over its oversexualization of breasts is continued exposure to shameless breastfeeding. That is how we normalize it. If a mom wants to cover up, its her prerogative, but the comfort of those around her should not weigh on her mind.
Thank you for sharing your opinion! I totally agree with you.