Don’t think you can breastfeed in public comfortably? I’ve got a few tips to help you overcome uneasy feelings when breastfeeding in public.
No matter your schedule, you’ll likely find that your newborn is very portable and easy to comfort wherever you go. A breastfed baby can be even easier, in my opinion. There are no bottles and formula to carry when it’s time for your baby to eat.
Unfortunately, many women worry about breastfeeding in public. This worry about nursing publicly is often worse than the actual breastfeeding experience, in general. Typically, however, you’ll find that the only people who notice you feeding your baby are other mothers who are doing the same thing, or have been in your shoes.
The alternative is to stay home around your baby’s breastfeeding schedule or to lock yourself in a bathroom to hide. But, as a mother of two children, I can attest that your baby’s schedule isn’t always predictable, staying home that often means you become a recluse, and a public bathroom usually isn’t the most comfortable space.
If you’re not sure you can comfortably breastfeed in public, but do want to breastfeed, here are a few things you can consider.
It is Possible to Breastfeed in Public Comfortably
First thing first, you need to know how to breastfeed your baby. It will be difficult to nurse publicly if you’re struggling to get your baby to latch, so get the breastfeeding help you need. Practice breastfeeding at home as much as possible the first week. Establishing a good breastfeeding routine and working on an appropriate latch will go a long way in helping you to become more confident in your skills to breastfeed in public.
Ask a friend to shield you
You can ask your spouse or friend to stand in front of you to shield your body from roaming eyes. As you lift your shirt from the waist to get your baby latched, your friend can stand or sit in front of you to keep anyone from accidentally seeing you.
At this point, lift your baby close to your body and then lift your shirt from the waist, to minimize exposing yourself to the world. Once your baby is latched, you can pull your shirt down close to her face. Your baby’s body will cover most of your exposed skin.
I found that wearing a snap-down nursing tank, like these from Undercover Mama, under a regular t-shirt helped prevent tons of exposed skin and reduced the chances of accidentally exposing more of myself than I’d like.
I never really became totally comfortable with breastfeeding in public unless I was covered. If you’re still not comfortable, find a lightweight blanket or nursing cover to help cover your baby and body while nursing.
This is a fabulous way to nurse away from home if your baby allows you to cover up. Additionally, a cover can prevent your baby from becoming distracted while nursing.
Learn to breastfeed in a carrier
After an instance with a family member who tried to shuttle me into a room away from everyone to breastfeed, I quickly learned to breastfeed in a carrier. This was one of the reasons I feel made my second breastfeeding experience better.
Once you choose the perfect carrier and become comfortable with it, you can experiment with different carry positions and learn to breastfeed in one. When your baby is ready to nurse, simply place her in your carrier and adjust so she doesn’t have to work too hard to nurse. My favorite carrier was the Boba 4G, which I found comfortable in all carry positions, including breastfeeding in public.
If you haven’t mastered the other skills, you could turn away from people when your baby first latches. Once you and your baby are comfortable, you can turn back around or cover up first before facing people.
Still Want More Privacy for Breastfeeding in Public?
If you’re still wanting more privacy, it’s okay to excuse yourself to nurse in an empty room if you’re at someone else’s house.
Another alternative is to breastfeed in your car, however, I never found this very comfortable and still sometimes worried about wondering eyes. But, in a pinch, moms do what needs to be done.
Finally, you can still choose a public restroom. I never really recommend this, however many public restrooms are becoming much more family friendly. Most offer a changing table and sometimes a chair. Shopping malls and other public places are starting to offer mother’s rooms for breastfeeding or pumping moms. These are great options for sensitive babies who are too easily distracted to nurse well in public.
An Alternative to Public Breastfeeding
If you just can’t get comfortable with breastfeeding in public, there’s an alternative. You can offer your baby expressed or pumped breast milk in a bottle. Just remember that offering artificial nipples in the first few weeks of your baby’s life can possibly contribute to nipple confusion. This can interfere with the breastfeeding relationship between you and baby.
As in any parenting situation, you should always do what works best for you and your baby. Breastfeeding in public may take a few weeks to get used to as you and baby both will have to learn together. However, the more you practice, the more confident you’ll become in your ability to comfortably nurse in public.
It should also be noted that if you don’t feel comfortable breastfeeding in a certain location, don’t force yourself. Remind yourself that your baby can sense when you’re uneasy and will react accordingly. If you’re feeling confident and comfortable, your baby will be also.
With these tips, I’m sure you’ll be comfortable to breastfeed in public in no time.
This post originally appeared on this site March 2018 and has been updated.