One of the most innate bonding between the mother and the child is breastfeeding. This justifies all those mothers who opt to breastfeed even in public. Lactating mothers are, however, many a times criticized for their decision with this concern. Well, the solution to the problem is just being confident and be acquainted with your rights concerning public breastfeeding. To add to your knowledge, let me mention that about 45 states include explicit laws to support breastfeeding in public. Besides, some of these even proffer additional protection.
But, alas, breastfeeding in public is still criticized in many cultures. However, don’t let this criticism stop you from your task. Below are some ways to retort to the criticism or any type of questions raised on your action:
- Put in plain words the advantages of breastfeeding as well as your obligation on towards your baby to provide him/her best nutrition.
- If anyone acts disrespectful or rude to your baby’s requirements, it’s always good to ignore them. What is more important is that you are doing just what is right for your baby. It is, therefore, not necessary to explain your act of breastfeeding to anybody.
- Coolly discuss about the disparities in opinions, without agreeing to their criticism. Disagreements are very common. Therefore, no need to be afraid in defending your values.
- Mention the need for breastfeeding and the frequency of breastfeeding to meet your baby’s requirements.
- Explain them that every family has different values and this works best for your family.
Tips for breastfeeding in Public
If the very notion of breastfeeding in public makes you intimidated, nervous, or self conscious, you are not the only one. There are numerous women going through such fear and anxiety regarding others’ opinion about breastfeeding in public. This criticism not only averts them from feeding the baby but also reduces their confidence about doing what they wish to. When adults can eat out, why can’t babies do? Do away with your hesitation about public breastfeeding. Here are some simple tips for breastfeeding in public.
Breastfeeding is the most natural source of nutrition for your baby. Above all, it is very much legal besides being a good thing. Adding further, besides benefitting the baby, you are also educating the new generation about the benefits and the rights as well. Many countries and states even have laws with rights to breastfeeding in public, stated explicitly in the law books. You cannot be disturbed, asked to cover up, or to move to a more discreet area while breastfeeding in public.
Practice at home
Many new baby-and-mom pairs struggle while latching a little more than others do. It is, however, absolutely normal. Every experienced mom would know that breastfeeding is an erudite expertise for the mother as well as the baby. The act of managing yourself aptly in public may, initially, be somehow tricky. But, with little practice, it soon becomes second nature. While starting out initially, practice at home a few times just as you are sitting in public and it’s done.
It is even better to practice in front of a mirror to know how much skin is being exposed. A large part of your breast gets covered by the baby. Try practicing in different outfits to check out the ones that work best for you as well as your baby. May babies cannot tolerate any fabric contacting their faces while nursing, while others are least bothered. It is, therefore, better to experiment to check the best options.
Try clothes which are comfortable for breastfeeding
You can get specially designed nursing clothes with hidden openings to make public breastfeeding more convenient. Alternatively, you can also go for designing nursing clothes from your ordinary outfits. In casual situations, a loose fitted t-shirt can be a good choice for it is easier to lift it up from one side to feed the baby. Also, being loose, it would cover a large part of your breast as well as belly while feeding.
A shirt that can be buttoned down from front is also a good choice as it can be unbuttoned from the bottom to feed the baby. If, in case, your baby doesn’t like any fabric touching his face while nursing, unbutton the shirt from top. Other options for outfits while nursing include cardigan, a jacket worn over a t-shirt, shirt or a tank top. Additionally, you can also try a snug fitting tank top with two slits cut in the front. These slits should be sufficiently large besides being cut in the apt point for breastfeeding. Wear this tank top t-shirt or shirt so as to avoid unnecessary exposure.
Begin with breastfeeding in a non-threatening place
While starting to breastfeed in public, avoid starting with in place that is packed with people, like a food court in the mall or a baseball game grandstand. Rather, start in a place which is quieter and less chaotic, like a bench in a park or a mothers’ room in the mall or a mellow café. Once you get used to breastfeeding in public, you can do it even in the most crowded place. Till then, be relieved of stress and practice at places which provide lesser stress.
Use a wrap or sling
Feeding the baby in public becomes easier using a wrap or a sling as it covers the baby as well as your breast. Besides, you can even breastfeed while walking around. However, if you have pulled your shirt up so as to make the breast accessible for feeding, you might require a tank top or a belly band to prevent your tummy from being exposed. If you are not able to get commercial wraps or covers, you can also use a shawl, blanket, or a poncho for the purpose.
Select an easy-access bra
There are many women who opt for a stretchy sports bra for it works fine for them. It is quite difficult to undo a strap and then fastening it again. With a sports bra, you just need to pull the cup down under the breast and start feeding. Besides, special nursing bras are also available in the market. These involve lowering the cup to feed the baby. While using such bras, ensure practicing at home so that you can undo it and fasten it easily with one hand, confidently while in public places.
Pick your spot
While selecting a place for feeding your baby, two things are generally looked for
- It should be comfortable to sit in
- You are away from the visibility of general public
When you are in a restaurant, sitting towards the inner side of the booth implies that you would be visible to only your dining companions. However, if special booths are not there, try taking a seat that faces away from the dining room. When at mall, many women may choose using the change room. It is, however, boring but is at least better than a public washroom. Alternatively, you can opt sitting on a bench at the side of a planter, or a booth situated in the food court area. Well, when in a bus, it is better to take a window seat so that you are not seen by other passengers. Also, you can sit more comfortably by leaning against the side. In places like parks, prefer sitting on a bench or sit while leaning against a tree to provide support to your back.
If, however, none of these options is available, drop all worries and take a place where you are comfortable and have sufficient space to manage things. Don’t bother about who is looking at you and who is not. Your priority is to feed your child rather than walk around with the hungry and crying baby.
Turn away for latching
Baby’s first latching on is the time when your skin is probably shown up. So, if you are sitting in a restaurant, may be next to the wall, however visible to other people, ensure turning completely to face the wall. This is the right position to latch the baby. Then, you can turn back again to face the table as well as the dining. Follow the same procedure when you want to unlatch your baby.
If you see somebody staring at you in a horrified or frowning way, just give a friendly smile. Don’t be sacred for you know you are doing something that is really important for your baby, and that is a good deed. Show up your confidence with a friendly smile to calm the situation.
Don’t think that you are being stared in disapproval. Rather presume that you are being looked at in curiosity or admiration. There’s nothing to be ashamed of.
Plan your reply
In even worst conditions, like the restaurant manager or the security guard of a mall approach you to suggest you going to the washroom to breastfeed, or you receive negative comments by a stranger, have your response planned beforehand. You know your rights. So, no need to worry or feel afraid or anxious about breastfeeding in public. If the manager or a security guard approaches you, reply politely explaining if you don’t eat in toilet, how would the baby? If the manager brings forward a complaint by a customer, politely suggest him that the customer might feel more comfortable if he changes his table in the restaurant.
Relax by taking a deep breath
Even though there are very few people who may not value why you feel breastfeeding in public is right. Presume such people to be a part of the minority. Take a deep breath to relax yourself and continue with your act.
Still nervous, look at your baby
Nothing in the world is more peaceful than having a look at your infant while nursing. Besides, you get a sense of happiness and being contended with what you both are involved in. So, keep all your worries aside and be least bothered about others’ glares and comments.
To conclude with, breastfeeding is something that makes you proud. Once you learn to breastfeed in public, it puts an end to all the nervousness and anxiety. Hope you find the aforesaid simple tips helpful in building your confidence to breastfeed your baby in public.
Enjoy your motherhood!