7 Important Breastfeeding in Public Tips for Success
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Are you the kind of woman who is overly concerned in regards to what people might think when they see you breastfeeding in public? Are you worried about how to actually breastfeed your baby when you are out of the comfort of your own home? If you are looking for tips on how to nurse in public, than this article is definitely going to help you feel more confident and comfortable when it’s time to feed your baby in public places.
Continue reading to learn my tips and tricks on how I learned to become comfortable feeding all 4 of my babies in public places like NYC’s Grand Central Station or Kennywood amusement park in the middle of a wintery freeze during Christmas light up night. I will explain how I went from being self conscious with even taking out my nursing cover during my first baby to feeding my 4th baby in a room full of dads in the cry room at church.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 81 percent of mothers start breastfeeding immediately after birth, but only about 22 percent of those moms are breastfeeding exclusively six months later. As a part of the Healthy People 2020 initiative, the national goal is to increase the proportion of mothers who breastfeed their babies in the early postpartum period to 81.9 percent by the year 2020 as mentioned by the National Conference of State Legislature
So with that said….I applaud you for wanting to breastfeed your baby! You go girl! Keep at it!
I Have Breastfed 4 Babies for a Combined Total of 46 Months!
To give you a little background on myself, I am a pretty private person when it comes to my body – so to say breastfeeding in public was a piece of cake was a completely false statement. I have learned a lot over the past 6 years of having 4 babies, and it’s pretty amusing to look back at how I handled breastfeeding as a new mom compared to now.
I had never been around other moms my age with new babies until I started having babies myself. For some reason, I don’t remember seeing other nursing moms at church, public places like the mall or amusement parks. It’s probably because I just overlooked it and wasn’t looking for women with big blankets draped over their bodies. It just wasn’t something on my mind before becoming pregnant.
The moment I had my first baby, I definitely became more aware of what other women were doing. I began to pay attention and take mental notes on how to feed babies in public. I took the breastfeeding class that my hospital offered so I could be more educated on the whole subject, and it was a real eye opener.
The class was more geared towards the basics: how to latch, different feeding positions, breastfeeding schedules, frequency and all the other really important nursing topics for new moms to learn. But one thing they don’t talk about is how to nurse in public.
So, how do we nurse our baby in public surrounded by a bunch of strangers? In this article, I’ll definitely give you enough tips to make you a pro at breastfeeding in public!
Getting Over Your Fear Of Breastfeeding In Public and Get More Comfortable
Going back to my first baby, I stayed home for 3 months, yep 3 WHOLE months! Sounds crazy but it’s true. My baby was born in December and I was afraid to take her out in public in the winter. I didn’t want her to get sick, I was afraid to drive her in the snow and it was a hassle to bundle her up and load her in the car seat. And honestly, the truth was, I didn’t know how to feed her in public.
I was a new mom learning how to breastfeed for the first time with no real help. I probably called the lactation specialists 3-5 times that first month of nursing with questions, concerns and advice (like how to treat mastitis). It was a struggle. It took a lot of practice and patience on my part to make sure my baby was getting the nutrients she needed.
Related: 8 Breastfeeding Tips For New Moms
My daughter was born at 5 lbs. 14 oz at 37.5 weeks gestation (NOT considered premature) and I felt like it was my job as a mom to do everything I could to get her weight up so I put all my focus on feeding her well! I didn’t want to let anything get in the way of that so I stayed home and stuck to my plan.
After developing a better routine and knowing that my daughter was latching well, growing and getting enough pee and poop diapers, I felt more confident in my ability to nurse her. When I was more comfortable feeding my baby, I decided to venture out of my home.
Breastfeeding In Public Is Not Easy But Sometimes We Have To Do It
Feeding her in public was not easy. I had a nursing cover, but I didn’t have a Boppy pillow, which I completely relied on at home. How on earth was I going to hold and support my baby in public without the Boppy pillow?
I struggled with this for quite some time. My baby fed the best in the football hold position. I really had trouble holding her that way without the Boppy pillow. So with those struggles in public, I looked for private places to go where I could be alone. I wore the most comfortable and easily accessible tops so I could easily feed my baby quickly in public after putting a nursing cover on. Most of the time I ended up going to the car because I felt more comfortable there.
You can see I mention the word “comfortable” a lot. This is so important for let-down to occur. You want to make sure you and your baby are comfortable so that you can have a good feeding experience, have a quick let-down and your baby can get your milk as easily as possible.
What Is The Spotlight Effect?
I nursed my baby for 12 months, and I even traveled to Yellowstone National Park when my first born was 8 months old. We took her on a plane, went on a road trip all around Wyoming and we even went on several hiking excursions with her. All that said, I nursed her throughout the entire trip while traveling with my in-laws. I would say at that moment, I became more comfortable nursing in public. I was somewhat forced to because I had nowhere else to go!
After that trip, where I actually saw a lot of other new moms nursing in public, I realized it’s NORMAL to breastfeed your baby in public places.
Who cares what other people think. And I bet if you were to survey all the people in the room with you, most of them would tell you they are proud of you for nursing your baby.
There is a phenomenon in social psychology called the “Spotlight Effect.” This is the belief by a person that everyone else notices or pays attention to them much more than they actually do.
For example, you are embarrassed because you think everyone will notice and judge you for having a stain on your shirt, a rough hair day or perhaps mispronouncing a word during a presentation. The premise of this occurs because you forget that although you are the center of your own world, others’ lives do not also revolve around you.
We naturally drastically overestimate how much others care about or notice us (especially strangers). Understanding this principle should help all breastfeeding moms breathe a sigh of relief knowing that even if you feel awkward nursing in public at first, no one else will really notice and they have much more important things in their own lives to focus their attention on.
Breastfeeding is a completely natural process that God has gifted us with – the ability to feed our own baby with the endless supply of milk, and this should not be something we are ashamed of.
So with that being said, let’s move past the fear and self conscious mindset and in turn have more confidence in our own ability as moms to feed our baby from our bodies! What a beautiful thing it is!
Oh And IT’S THE LAW!!!
The law says that you are allowed to breastfeed your baby in public.
Health professionals and public health officials promote breastfeeding to improve infant health.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), 49 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands all have laws that specifically allow women to breastfeed in any public or private location. (Idaho is the only exception.)
7 Tips: How To Have Success When Breastfeeding In Public
1. Wear The Right Clothing
Pick the perfect outfit! Out of your nursing wardrobe, pick the tops that are the easiest to expose your chest from. Less buttons, straps, clips, less layers, less bulk. Find tops that are easy to pull down from the neck, stretch material or a nursing top that is easy to slip open. Avoid wearing dresses or thick sweaters that are basically impossible to find a way to feed your baby.
2. Get The Biggest Nursing Cover You Can Find
I was so happy with the nursing cover I bought. It ended up being extra large, covering me and my baby from the right side of my to the lift side of me. It is heavier so my baby doesn’t kick it off as easily and thick enough to not be see through. The neck strap does not slide or adjust by accident, but maintains its position well. This is, in my opinion, the key to comfort.
3. Practice At Home
Get your baby used to nursing under the cover while at home and without the Boppy pillow. Try to find the best position to hold your baby (usually is the cradle position) and put the cover on at home so your baby can get used to something being over her face. Also, try sitting in an upright kitchen chair to feed your baby as if you were at a restaurant. NOT VERY COMFORTABLE for you but, like I said, it’s good to practice at home. Some women also feed their baby while wearing a carrier or a sling so you can always practice that at home as well.
But if you are still struggling with the breastfeeding basics at home, Marissa at Just Simply Mom offers really great advice and helpful tips for breastfeeding success.
4. Stock Your Diaper Bag With Supplies
What supplies do you typically need when you nurse your baby? Whatever you need, have it easily accessible at the top of your diaper bag, maybe even in its own zip lock bag for easy access. Some items might be nursing pads, nipple cream, nursing shield, burp cloth, bib and definitely your nursing cover.
5. Recognize Your Baby’s Hunger Signs
Try not to let your baby get too hungry while out in public. This very easily can happen since while out in public you can get distracted by other things and you might miss your baby’s hunger signs. If your baby has a certain cry when she gets hungry, then act right away before your baby gets too upset. My babies always had a difficult time nursing if they started to getting extremely fussy. If your baby is on a feeding schedule, then make sure you stick to your feeding schedule as closely as possible. Set an alarm on your phone if you need a reminder so that you are not delayed with a feeding.
6. Take Care Of Yourself
Pack yourself a water bottle and snack. Don’t forget to take care of yourself. Your milk supply is important, and you need to stay hydrated and have enough nutrients to feed your baby well. Also, have a positive attitude and fixate your mind on your baby! What a blessing that little bundle is 🙂
7. Find A Comfortable Location
Pick a location that is comfortable for you to sit. I like sitting in a booth at restaurants. It’s more discreet and I have more space compared to a chair. Position yourself closer to the wall or facing the opposite direction of where everyone is looking. Face your back towards the crowd. If chairs are the only option find the size chair that is most comfortable for you. Do you like narrow or wider chairs? I like chairs with armrests and chairs that are not too deep (I don’t want to be slouching). Whatever you do, I do not recommend nursing on a toilet in a public bathroom. Yuk!
In Time It Will Get Easier To Breastfeed In Public
After having 4 babies now, I am extremely comfortable nursing my babies in public. With my second baby we traveled to NYC to see the Christmas Tree lit up in Rockefeller Center, and I remember being all bundled up in so many layers.
We didn’t really have anywhere warm to go while doing our sight seeing so we went to Starbucks to feed my 2 month old. It was jammed packed inside but someone was nice enough to give us a chair and table to sit at. I remember taking off all my layers and feeding her in a crowd full of people, but I really didn’t have any other choice. My baby was hungry and we needed a warm place to go.
You might be surprised to learn that most public places such as amusement parks, stadiums and other venues have a nursing room for breastfeeding moms to go and feed their babies. It’s usually a private room with comfortable seating and a changing table so that you can feed your baby in a room only for women. I would recommend calling the venue up in advance if possible and asking if they have a breastfeeding room for moms. You might be surprised how many places have one.
When I was nursing my third child, my entire family went to Kennywood amusement park for their Christmas light up night. Again, another cold, wintery day, and I was not about to feed her outside with it being 20 degrees. So before going, I called up and, sure enough, they had a special location near their First Aid room for moms to go and nurse behind a curtain.
Just recently I was at church in the cry room where any parent can take their baby or toddler if their child was unable to sit through the service. I walked in, and it was a room full of dads and their kids. I needed to feed my baby, so I continued on with my normal routine – nurse my baby in the cry room. Of course I had my nursing cover on. The dads either kept playing with their kids or casually walked away to be a gentleman and give me privacy.
Do What You Are Most Comfortable Doing
All in all, it’s really up to you and how you handle every situation. If you have any questions or comments regarding this topic, I would love to hear from you. Comment below. Do you have any tips on breastfeeding in public? What have your experiences been like?
If you are new to breastfeeding, you may really enjoy reading 8 Breastfeeding Tips For New Moms. In this post you will learn super helpful tips for nursing as a new mom and also get a list of great breastfeeding products that every breastfeeding mom should have.
Dr. Jena Bradley, DPT
This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.