Have you ever heard of moms being shamed, bullied or criticized for public nursing, offered to retreat into the bathroom, or asked to leave the premises? Have you ever avoided breastfeeding in public, fearing to be publicly condemned? Are you overall not sure how to breastfeed in public without being stressed about it?
“Breast is best” is about the mother’s milk providing the best possible nutrition for our newborns. However, the recommendation to exclusively nurse on demand until six months runs the risk of putting many mothers under pressure to decide if they are willing to nurse in public. Our new article provides you with few simple tips on how to breastfeed in public to meet the needs of own baby, but also to avoid public criticism.
Be positive about breastfeeding in public.
Think whether the reasons not to breastfeed are strong enough to stay at home, to go for a bottle-feeding or to nurse behind the doors of a public bathroom. Public nursing has been the norm for centuries. Take, for example, “Maria Lactans” – depicting Virgin Maria nursing the baby Jesus – that has been an important element of the Christian Art. Today, breastfeeding in public is becoming more and more popular with the greater number of countries adopting laws or bi-laws supporting mothers who want to feed their babies in public areas.
Check relevant legislation
Many countries worldwide and many states in the United States have legislation that does not prohibit breastfeeding in public. Some of them even have special legal provisions exempting nursing moms from penalties for exposing their breasts. In some countries, laws protect nursing moms from possible public harassment.
Decide how “public” you are ready to go
Breastfeeding moms may have different comfort levels with how open their breasts are during nursing. Some may prefer using covers and others won’t. You may even choose to cover in some situations, such as attending meetings or attending family gatherings, but feel comfortable to nurse in a park. If you are not sure how to start, take one-step at a time. First, try nursing in your car. Once you feel more comfortable, try nursing in special nursing rooms of stores or malls until you feel ready doing it in open public areas.
Choose right clothing
Nursing clothes look exactly like many items from your pre-pregnancy wardrobe. Nursing tops cover the upper and the bottom parts of the breasts, allowing the baby to nurse through the slit. Two-piece outfits are comfortable too. When lifted, the first top will cover the upper part of the breast. The second top will continue covering the rest of your body. Many mothers prefer nursing covers, but keep in mind that they may attract attention to what you are doing under it.
Find a comfortable nursing spot.
If you are a first-time mom and your baby is a newborn, you may prefer a more private spot to be able to adjust the process and help your baby latch. Mom’s forums may give you valuable ideas on how to breastfeed in public areas those kids who are easily distractible and need some time and certain conditions to settle down.
Negotiate nursing limits with a toddler.
Gently explain your toddler the rules of feeding in public. They can’t pull your shirt up or play with the breasts while nursing. Older ones can definitely wait until you get into the car or at home. Try being gentle and caring, but also firm when setting those rules.
Be ready to deal with public disapproval
People who love babies may come to check out the baby when you are feeding. You can politely ask them to wait until your baby finishes nursing. Think about a strategy on how to react to people showing a negative attitude to nursing in public. If someone expresses disapproval, be polite, but firm. There is no need to feel ashamed or apologize for feeding own child. Your baby has the right to nurse whenever and wherever he or she wants to.
You will be surprised to see that more people approve and encourage public nursing than disapprove. The overwhelming majority won’t even notice you breastfeeding. When you encounter a disapproval, feel strong about what you do. Nursing in public is not only about meeting the needs of your baby. It is also a key awareness tool to promote breastfeeding as the normal way to feed our children.
What would be your advice to moms that still need to figure out how to breastfeed in public areas? Any more helpful tips to handle aggressive disapproval?