Does the thought of breastfeeding in public puzzle you? Or scare you? Or simply make you wonder whether or not you should? It’s okay, the doubt is a part of a nursing mom’s journey! But just to be clear - breastfeeding is something you can’t really avoid. Your little one demands food when he is hungry, and you can’t really ignore or delay it too much, considering that your baby is probably crying for food.
To begin with, let’s start by saying that breastfeeding is a very natural thing - you’re simply taking care of your little one. It’s a part of your journey. People may tell you that you should not, or that you should be hidden while breastfeeding, but the truth is, we need to change the way we think about public breastfeeding - after all, don’t we just want to put the baby’s needs above all else?
In case you’re puzzled about how you can conveniently or ‘appropriately’ breastfeed your baby in public, we have some tips that will help you feel less intimidated and more confident:
1. Wear nursing-friendly clothing
This is key to breastfeeding, whether you’re in public or at home. You don’t want too many layers or inconvenient clothes when you have to breastfeed. Pick the kind of shirts or tops that are meant for breastfeeding. Nursing bras and pads are also very useful when you have to breastfeed, and this applies to nursing your baby in public. Moreover, wearing the right type of clothing will avoid nursing becoming a hassle for you in public. It will make the process quick and less uncomfortable for you.
2. Make yourself comfortable
If you’re new to breastfeeding in public, it’s normal to feel uncomfortable at first, because of all the judgment you might have been exposed to. So if you’re worried that you’ll feel comfortable, you can start off with a blanket to cover you while you feed. But if your baby gets cranky with the blanket on him, don’t worry too much. And definitely don’t let others shame you into covering up. You are only trying to feed your baby! Breastfeeding is not something to be ashamed of - it’s just how you feed your baby!
3. Start with safer places
Of course, you might be worried about the atmosphere at different places when it comes to breastfeeding. Take baby steps, starting with breastfeeding your baby in front of your family, to breastfeeding at places with women around. Get used to the idea that breastfeeding is natural before you can try the big step. We know that you may feel uncomfortable considering that people mainly have told you before to breastfeed privately.
4. Look into your baby’s eyes
The looks people give you might confuse you or scare you, so focus on your baby instead. Remember - breastfeeding is not ‘wrong.’ You’re feeding your baby because s/he is hungry - it’s natural. Don’t look away from your baby. Make eye contact with your baby, try to softly talk to him. Breastfeeding is a precious time for every mother and her baby so focus on bonding with your baby. Don’t let the mean looks stop you from doing what you need to.
5. Hygiene: Avoid bathrooms
As much as everyone tells you to go feed your baby in the ladies room, it is unsanitary. If you wouldn’t eat in a bathroom and so it’s not safe to feed your baby in a bathroom either. Of course, some bathrooms have a good facility for moms to sit down, relax and feed their babies, but otherwise, you should ideally avoid this germ-filled place while feeding your baby.
6. Avoid distractions
Your baby can be distracted easily, and stop feeding every now and then. To avoid this and make sure your baby feeds, avoid noisy places or places with too much movement around you. After all, you want your baby to be focused and comfortable so that they can latch on and feed without an interruption.
7. Take care of yourself too!
Remember that a breastfeeding mom needs to eat more food and drink more water so that she can properly feed her baby and have enough milk for him. So carry some water and a quick snack with you when you’re out, so that you can keep yourself hydrated during the nursing period, and have enough energy.
Last of all, remember that you’re not wrong to breastfeed in public. Be confident and try to explain to others that you need to nurse your baby. You need not start right away but taking baby steps and getting accustomed to the idea will really help make nursing more convenient and less uncomfortable.