Breastfeeding in public for the first time can be a daunting and nerve-wracking experience. From worries about how well baby will latch, whether people will stare and actually whether you might get stopped from doing so, its not unusual to feel a degree of reticence.
As a mum that went through the process with three babies (it definitely felt much easier third time around!) here are my top tips for navigating your way through those early breastfeeding-in-public experiences.
Know your rights:
We’ve all heard horror stories of mums that have been stopped from breastfeeding in public, however know that, in the UK, you have the right to breastfeed your baby anywhere and it is illegal for you to be asked to leave for doing so. Let knowing this ensure you never feel uncomfortable about breastfeeding in public and if someone challenges you, discover your inner mama-bear!
Practise at home:
If you're feeling nervous about breastfeeding in public for the first time, practice at home first. This will help you find comfortable positions, know how to use the breastfeeding clothes you want to wear and figure out how to use nursing covers, if you choose to use them.
Find breastfeeding-friendly locations:
Despite having the right to breastfeed in public, you may feel more confident the first times by finding breastfeeding-friendly locations in advance. Look for places with dedicated nursing rooms or quiet corners, such as libraries, malls, or family-friendly cafes. Many places now offer breastfeeding rooms and areas, making breastfeeding in public much more comfortable if you want a little more privacy.
Choose nursing-friendly clothing:
Clothing that makes breastfeeding in public convenient and discreet will undoubtedly help make the early experiences easier. Tops with buttons, zippers, or wrap designs are excellent choices, and of course the Natal Active nursing sports bras and nursing hoodies are a must-have wardrobe staple, providing easy access for your baby, while allowing you to maintain your privacy.
Bring someone with you:
If you're feeling nervous about breastfeeding in public, having a supportive companion with you can make a world of difference. They can provide emotional support, help you feel more at ease and provide some distraction if you are concerned about people looking (even though, trust me, they probably wont be!)
Practise confident body language:
Confidence is key! While breastfeeding in public, maintain positive body language and feel proud to be breastfeeding your baby – you are doing an amazing thing! Keep your head high, relax your shoulders, and remember that what you're doing is totally natural.
Ignore any judgemental stares:
In reality it is unlikely that you will be judged negatively for breastfeeding in public, but you may be unlucky enough to come across the odd person that does so. In these situations, stay strong and remember that you are doing something amazing for your baby. Try and ignore any judgemental stares or comments and focus on your beautiful baby.
Join breastfeeding support groups:
Connecting with like-minded breastfeeding mums can be incredibly empowering. Look at joining local or online breastfeeding support groups where you can share experiences, exchange tips, and gain valuable advice from experienced mums.
Educate and raise awareness for other mums:
Breastfeeding in public should be normalised, and you can play a role in that. By confidently breastfeeding in public, without even realising, you are helping to raise awareness and show others that breastfeeding is a natural part of motherhood. You never know - your actions may even inspire and encourage other mothers to do the same.
Ultimately, breastfeeding in public or otherwise, is totally natural and should be celebrated. By knowing your rights, practising at home, and adopting some of these tips, you quickly wonder what you ever worried about!