Breastfeeding at home, in your cozy sweatpants while leaning in the recliner, is one thing. Nursing in public, however, is a completely different animal. Although it usually takes a while to get comfortable with breastfeeding at all, throwing in the added "excitement" of doing it in front of people is enough to give some moms anxiety. Luckily, there are lots of ways to become more comfortable breastfeeding in public so that even the most inexperienced nurser can become a seasoned pro.
Though I can't remember the very first time I nursed my daughter in public, I do remember the awkward first few weeks of trying to forge a solid breastfeeding relationship. Even when I was around my friends and family, I was often tempted to just throw a blanket over both of our heads and feed inside our tiny "tent." Although I was never embarrassed to breastfeed in public, sometimes it felt awkward. All I wanted was a little bit of privacy to work out the kinks, so to speak.
Since you can't expect to stay cooped up in your house every time you breastfeed, it's probably a good idea to get acquainted with the idea of nursing in public. After a few "practice runs" you'll be able to feed your baby no matter where you go with ease. To help get your started, here are a few way to become comfortable breastfeeding in public.
1. Know Your Rights
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 49 states have laws making it legal to breastfeed anywhere in public or private. That means that if anyone asks you to move or behaves inappropriately towards you (which is rare, but still can happen), your simple response can be "I have the legal right to nurse my baby. Thanks."
2. Practice Where You Feel Comfortable
When you nurse at home, practice what you would do if you were in public. Try latching on without exposing your whole breast or experiment with using a cover. When you do nurse in public, choose spots you feel comfortable in as well, like booth seating in a restaurant. If you feel comfortable, that's all that really matters.
3. Use A Cover If It Helps
Although it's obviously not mandatory, many women find it easier to use a nursing cover while feeding in public. This one from Target ($30) is actually cute and specifically made for nursing, which is much easier than using a blanket or jacket. Some babies, however, just don't love eating with a blanket over their head and in that case, it's totally okay not to use one too.
4. Wear Clothes That Are Easy To Nurse In
Most clothes weren't designed with breastfeeding in mind and, as frustrating as that can be to a nursing mom, it's better to think ahead than to find out the hard way that maybe wearing your bodycon dress wasn't the best idea. Think layers with easy access to the goods. If you're OK with baring it all, a v-neck or button down shirt works great. Otherwise, wear loose shirts or maybe even a cute nursing dress.
5. Turn Away To Latch On
Latch on can be awkward as you simultaneously try to avoid flashing everyone and help your baby latch at the same time. Often, your baby is distracted by the noise and sights around, making it even trickier to get a good latch. Although it's not always possible to avoid the noise altogether, try turning away to latch and use the same technique that you would at home.
6. Have A Response In Mind
In the case that someone is rude enough to ask you to move or makes a snide remark, have a simple response in mind. Even if it's as simple as "I have the legal right to breastfeed here," knowing what to say in advance can help you relax, even if no one actually says anything.
7. If All Else Fails, Fake It Till You Make It
You might not feel confident or comfortable right away, and that's okay. Breastfeeding in general is a hard task to master and doing it in public only adds to the stress. Go easy on yourself, and remember that ultimately, what anyone else says or thinks doesn't really matter as long as you're doing what needs to be done for your baby.