Imagine a situation where you are waiting in line at the checkout of your local grocery store, with your baby in tow. You have had an exhausting week fraught with sleeplessness and would like nothing more than a long relaxing nap.
Sadly, your newborn is having none of that.
She screams in hunger and grapples with her blanket, sending you into a frenzy.
All eyes land on you as you desperately try to lift your shirt under the blanket, trying to feed the baby without flashing anyone. Your discomfort drastically multiplies with each movement.
This is just one of many examples of what mothers face with breastfeeding newborns.
Despite the weight of the stares from the onlookers, mothers prioritize feeding their babies above all – no matter how uncomfortable she is.
Fortunately, we have prepared a guide so nursing mothers can learn all the necessary information she needs to safely and comfortably breastfeed in public.
Is Breastfeeding in Public Legal?
In 47 of the 50 states in the US, DC and the Virgin Islands, there are laws that specifically allow mothers to breastfeed in public.
If you live outside the US and are unsure if it is legal in your area, check with the law or even doing a simple Google search can immensely help you.
Tips to Help you Comfortably and Discreetly Nurse in Public
1. Dress to Nurse with Ease
Although long, flowy, summer dresses are all the hype this season, it’s best that a nursing mother opts for a simple two-piece outfit.
T-shirts or button-down shirts are easier to lift up and you can be far more discreet when you are feeding.
You can wear layered tops as well to give you an extra cover.
Many retail chains sell maternity fashions that not only flatter you but also make feeding babies that much easier. These outfits may be equipped with flaps that can be unhooked and additionally used to provide cover.
2. Use a Blanket or a Nursing Cover
With a blanket or a nursing cover, mothers can comfortably feed and not fear to expose anyone no matter how much the baby moves.
A nursing cover also has the added advantage of straps to hold the blanket in place so that it doesn’t slip off, unlike regular blankets.
You can even wear various patterns if you are feeling a bit fancy!
If you prefer to use a blanket, make sure it is well ventilated so it doesn’t obstruct air and keep the baby’s skin cool.
3. Wear a Sling
Kill two birds with one stone. A sling helps you carry your baby and also gives the privacy you need during feeding times.
Passersby get the impression that your baby is just snoozing. Talk about convenient!
4. Practice Before Going Outside
To avoid unnecessary embarrassment lest you flash someone, try practicing in front of the mirror.
Pretend like you are in a public setting and adjust the positions of your body to minimize the amount of skin you show. Remember your baby’s feeding needs come first before looks and fashion.
Get a friend or your partner to watch as well to make sure you are getting it right.
It takes some time getting used to but once you master it, you can confidently and quickly feed your baby in the public areas.
5. Pick a Quiet Place for Feeding
The hustle bustle of public places isn’t an ideal place for a meal.
However, your baby still needs to eat.
Consider moving to a quieter space like the deeper, out of the way tables at a restaurant or a lonely park bench away from the crowds.
Don’t go to a bathroom stall or to a cleaning area. You wouldn’t eat on a smelly toilet, neither should your baby.
Putting off feeding for too long will result in a frustrated baby and a frenzied mother. Annoyed babies will not easily latch on to the nipple and thrash around, making feeding even harder.
Additionally, if you don’t find your desired space to comfortably feed the baby, ask establishment managers or staff. Most of the time, they are more than friendly and extremely accommodating.
6. Stand Up for Yourself if You Face Harassment
There are many rude people out there who would either intensely stare at you while you are feeding your baby or tell you that you are guilty of public indecency.
Do not give these people the satisfaction of getting angry or agitated. Instead, simply tell them that you are trying to feed your child and carry a copy of the law to support your argument then promptly walk away.
If you fear violence, call 911 or the emergency helpline of your country.
Most of the time, people are genuinely curious about your newborn hence the stares. Don’t let them take away your confidence to walk in public.
Babies, especially newborns need constant feeding and working mothers don’t always find secluded places to nurse them. That’s why mothers resort to feeding their babies wherever they can. Without proper feeding, babies can get very difficult to handle. Hopefully, these tips will help you do so without being uncomfortable
And ladies, you shouldn’t shy away from taking care of your baby. Remember, you’re a mother now and the baby’s needs always comes first.
About the Author:
This article was contributed by Stepheny on behalf of FeedFond. She’s a mother of two and many of her tips are taken from real-life experiences. Check out more of her work at FeedFond.com