Tips for Breastfeeding in Public

Find out how you can comfortably nurse beyond the confines of your own home.

Cherylyn Feierabend,
August 1, 2009
Episode #124

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Practice Makes Perfect – or at Least Helps

If you are nervous about breastfeeding in public, practice at home first. I had a lot of practice with baby number one, so when my son came along, it was so much easier. If you aren’t comfortable going out in public because you feel self-conscious, practice being discreet at home. Once you know which clothes you have that are the most nursing-friendly, and your baby has perfected her latching-on routine, things will go much smoother for everyone. You may be nervous the first few times or may notice some stolen glances that people toss your way, but that feeling will soon pass once you become more comfortable. Once your baby is latched and you are comfortably nursing, resume whatever activity you were previously engaged in, whether in a conversation with friends or just taking in the scenery. Don’t feel obligated to acknowledge anyone who may stare or seems agitated by your presence. You are absolutely right to be doing what you are doing and you should be proud of yourself.

Then Why Should I Be Discreet?

You may or may not be asking why you should be discreet when you should be proud of what you are doing. Well, the simple fact is that while it is a perfectly natural act, there’s no reason to bring attention to it. Just as many people say, “I don’t eat in the bathroom so why would I feed my baby in there” similarly, we don’t sit down to a meal and shout, “Hey! Look at me, I’m eating over here. Watch me eat!” OK, maybe some people do that, but really there’s no need to bring attention to it especially, when someone may not be comfortable with it. So, make yourself comfortable, but don’t go out of your way to make anyone else uncomfortable. Being discreet and natural about your routine is really the best choice, in my opinion. When you are relaxed and comfortable, your baby is relaxed and comfortable and will both latch better and eat better.

Nursing Pads – Don’t Leave Home Without Them

My final tip is about nursing pads. These are the pads you place inside your bra when you are a nursing mom just in case you have let-down at an inopportune moment. Let-down is the reflex that occurs when your milk starts flowing. Sometimes this can happen even when you aren’t nursing. It happened to me in a bookstore once. I’d forgotten my nursing pads and had to excuse myself with crossed-arms. It was embarrassing, but I got over it. Nursing pads are available in cloth or disposable forms. Use them and carry extra with you . . . everywhere, at least if you want to avoid some silly embarrassment. Not that we moms would ever cry over spilled milk anyway.

If you’d like to request a topic for the Mighty Mommy you can e-mail me directly at mommy@quickanddirtytips.com.