Moms know that the best way to feed a baby is to make everyone comfortable physically and emotionally. When everyone is calm, cool, and collected a baby can successfully eat, as babies are very sensitive to their environments. They can feel and sense everything, even when their mom is anxious. Which is why it's so important that moms and babies feel content while breastfeeding, especially when they're out of the house. Before venturing out, there are ways moms can make breastfeeding in public more comfortable for themselves and their babies.
Breastfeeding moms shouldn't feel like they have to run to the nearest bathroom to nurse their babies. Because, seriously, who wants to eat in a bathroom? They shouldn't feel like they have to hide under a hot wrap or blanket. They shouldn't have to employ MacGyver maneuvers and Olympic-level acrobatics to shield the world from her while she's nursing. They should be able to feed their babies in peace. End of story.
Many mothers are already super comfortable breastfeeding in public, but others, might not be yet. Here are eight things moms can do to feel more comfortable breastfeeding in public for them and for their baby.
1. Practice Breastfeeding At Home
Preparation and practice are key. A lactation expert with Today's Parent, suggests trying different positions, clothes and accessories at home first. The baby market is filled with all types of clothing, gear, wraps, blankets, and slings. Your baby may not like a certain blanket touching it's face, or the feeling of a certain wrap, so it's a good idea to try some stuff out at home before you get out in public.
It's also helpful to start identifying feeding patterns. Le Leche League International (LLLI) noted that breastfeeding moms who become familiar with their child's feeding cues will be likely able to anticipate their baby's needs whether they're at home, at a social gathering with a group of people or out running errands.
2. Decide On A Spot Ahead Of Time (If Possible)
Some public establishments have designated nursing areas. Which is great, but breastfeeding mothers are not required to use them. LLLI suggested moms who feel more comfortable using designated nursing areas, to scout them out ahead of time. That way, if your baby gets hungry and fussy you'll know right where to go.
If moms who prefer privacy are going to a place like a restaurant, local park, or beach, where a designated area doesn't exist, LLLI suggests they scope out a spot that's removed upon arrival. That might mean sitting in a low traffic area in a restaurant. Or, if outside, choosing a shady spot. Again, that way if your baby gets hungry, you'll already have a spot in mind that's private and you'll be able to get there quickly instead of scrambling.
3. Try Different Types Of Clothing
Accessibility and comfort are going to be helpful. Certain fabrics, cuts of garments and even button placements can really aid in breastfeeding. Knowing which clothes work best for you and your baby, will help make the experience more comfortable. The Dr. Sears website suggests if you're a mom that prefers to show less skin, you can look for tops that have openings or buttons starting at the waist, rather than the other way around. Additionally, there are clothes with concealed openings for breastfeeding.
4. Try Different Types Of Bras
It's all about that bra. When I had my first baby, no one told me all of my old bras weren't going to fit anymore. Thankfully, I discovered the world of nursing bras. They were bigger to fit my much larger postpartum cup size, and they had clips that allowed my baby easy access. You could even use an old sports bra if it still fits, as they tend to be more stretchy.
5. Try A Sling Or Wrap
Slings, wraps, and baby carriers are great for nursing on the go. Some carriers provide excellent coverage (if you care about coverage), and with practice, you might be able to breastfeed your baby standing up.
6. Consider Using A Cover-Up
There is no judgement if a mom feels more comfortable using a cover up or nursing blanket. At the end of the day, it's the mom who has to feel calm and at ease, so she can successfully feed her baby. Breastfeeding is a normal and natural process, but that doesn't mean there's one way to do it. The fact remains that some breastfeeding mothers are more comfortable being discreet by using a nursing cover (like this Bebe Au Lait nursing scarf.) And that's OK.
7. Know Your Rights
In the United States, moms who breastfeed in public are protected by law, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. No one should ask you to cover up. No one should tell you to you be more discreet. And no one should tell you to move to another area.
8. Own It
However and wherever you choose to breastfeed your baby in public is your business. Does criticism exist? Absolutely. But it doesn't mean you have to stop. Simply flash a big 'ol smile and goofy wave to the people criticizing you.