by Jessica Martin-Weber
This post is generously made possible by Bamboobies
Not sure about baring your breast, at least partially, and feeding your baby in public?
Mama, you’ve got this.
If you’re uncomfortable with breastfeeding your baby while out and about you’re not alone. Many women experience some nervousness over feeding their baby away from home. It’s no wonder either, spend any time on social media and it would seem that women are regularly experiencing harassment for breastfeeding in public.
Thankfully, that isn’t really the case. Out of hundreds of thousands of breastfeeding moms every single day, only a a couple of dozen or so will end up on the news talking about harassment she experienced for feeding her baby. A few more may experience negative comments or looks from strangers or more likely, friends and family. But more often than not, breastfeeding in public is either appreciated and encouraged or not even noticed. Far more women have positive breastfeeding in public stories than harassment stories.
With that in mind, there are some steps a breastfeeding mom can take to help her feel more comfortable with breastfeeding in public. Drawing from 17 years of off and on, mostly on, breastfeeding experience and from helping others in their journey, there are a few ways I have found can make it all a little easier.
*A note about covering to breastfeed in public. Covering is a matter of personal preference. Do what works for you and what will help you reach your personal breastfeeding goals. Whatever you choose to do, I encourage you to make the decision for yourself, not for others. If you choose to cover, do so because you feel more comfortable covered, not because you want other people to feel more comfortable.
Get comfortable. Breastfeeding may be natural but it is a skill to develop for both you and your baby. Getting comfortable with it may take a little time for both of you and being able to develop that skill in the comfort of your own home in those early days will go a long way for when you need to breastfeed on the go. Get comfortable with breastfeeding with your baby, when you feel like you know what you’re doing it will be a lot less intimidating. This doesn’t mean you can’t leave the house until then, just that the more time you spend breastfeeding where you feel safe the more you’ll feel confident in other settings. You’ve got this.
Practice. Does practice make perfect or is it practice makes permanent? Either way, practicing can be a game changer. Practice breastfeeding in public as soon as you can with baby steps. Breastfeed in front of people you feel safe with- your partner, your best friends, family, etc. Work your way up gradually to breastfeed around people you’re not sure are supportive. Two of the most effective ways to practice breastfeeding in public are 1) breastfeed in front of a mirror and 2) practice what you would say if someone was to harass you for feeding your baby. By breastfeeding in front of a mirror or by video recording yourself feeding, you may find you don’t expose as much as you feared. By have a prepared response to possible negative reactions to you feeding your baby, you may find you feel equipped. Plus, the more prepared you are to stand up for your baby’s right to be fed, the less likely you’ll ever need to. You’ve got this.
Get the tools you need. Have boob, feed baby! But you may feel more comfortable with some additional items. A nursing bra or tank, nursing pads (or breast pads) so if you leak your shirt stays dry, breastfeeding top or dress, easy access clothing, a portable breastfeeding pillow, a nursing cover, a water bottle, etc. Figure out what is going to help you feel more comfortable and secure to confidently feed in public. Having clothing that works for you to get a breast out is crucial (avoid back zip up high neck dresses!) whether you’re lifting from the bottom, doing the two layer method so your tummy and back are covered, pulling down from the top, using clothing designed specifically for breastfeeding, or choosing a breastfeeding cover. Having the tools that work for you can be a big confidence boost. You’ve got this.
See it. One of the reasons we may be uncomfortable feeding in public is because we’re not used to seeing it. It seems weird to us and we’re the ones having to do it! Seeing it can help a lot. Look at breastfeeding photos on social media (check out the hashtags #beautifulbfing, #brelfie, #normalizebreastfeeding, and yes, #breastfeeding), attend a parenting group that supports breastfeeding, spend time with friends who are breastfeeding. And if you’re really anxious about breastfeeding in public, go out with other women who breastfeed your first few times. There’s strength in numbers. You’ve got this.
Be informed. Most areas have laws protecting breastfeeding in public. While there aren’t really any teeth to those laws, breastfeeding in public isn’t illegal and is protected in most places. We shouldn’t have to but knowing the law, even having it printed out and with you, puts you in a position of being informed of your rights. Feel confident that the law is on your side. You’ve got this.
Focus. Now that you’ve done the prep work, when it’s time to feed your baby, just focus on feeding your baby. Don’t look for the negative, look at the positive right there in front of you. Shut out the world for just a moment and draw strength and courage in this shared time together. Focus on your baby and let any negative reactions pass you right by. You’ve got this.
Let it go. You are not responsible for the thoughts and feelings of others, particularly when it comes to you caring for your children. Sure, some may disapprove, some may be offended, some may take issue with breastfeeding in public, but it isn’t your job to protect them from what offends them and it certainly isn’t your job to sacrifice your child’s needs for someone else’s comfort. Let it go, you can’t make everyone happy but you can ensure that your little one is. You’ve got this.
You matter. Your baby matters. You deserve to live life fully, feeding your little one with confidence. It isn’t asking too much to feed your baby in peace out in the world as you live your life. You’ve got this.
Breastfeeding in public, you’ve totally got this.
Check out the Bamboobies nursing shawl, it’s practical for breastfeeding and long after as a fashion accessory!