When it comes to nursing in public, a number of new mommies are hesitant in the beginning and so they end up locking themselves in the four walls of their home. However, breastfeeding shouldn’t stop moms and their babies from going out; after all, it’s a natural process and an important one.
Currently, doctors advise exclusive breastfeeding for six months and breastfeeding along with complementary foods for two years and beyond. Since you’ll be nursing your child for so long, you better get the hang of doing it in public places or your life will become very restricted.
Scroll down to read 11 tips for breastfeeding in public.
- Plan in advance
If you are going to be out with your little munchkin for long, be well-prepared for breastfeeding in public. Visualize the place and think of spots where it will be right for you to nurse your baby. Look for quite locations like a café or women’s lounge in a shopping mall. Many public washrooms also have a separate nursing room so make sure to use that. Next, visualize the whole process and be prepared of your fears of skin show and people judging you. Don’t get intimidated by such thoughts and try to overcome them before you step out of your house.
- Go along with someone
If you are new to motherhood and breastfeeding in open, then avoid going out alone. You can go out with an experienced person like your mother or a friend or someone close enough like your spouse. A company will provide you appropriate support, help you find a suitable place and make you feel less conscious. Besides, you will also need someone to carry your nursing essentials bag while you’re holding the baby.
This might also interest you: 6 Ways to Support a Breastfeeding Mother
- Learn your rights
While India has no statutory laws regarding breastfeeding in public, it is considered socially acceptable in certain rural areas and frowned upon in other urban areas. However, it’s about time you realize that nourishing your little one in public is completely fine, as long as done in the right surroundings and with right covering.
- Practice at home in front of a mirror
If your major concern regarding breastfeeding in public revolves around exposing a lot of skin, try practicing it in front of a mirror to reassure yourself. You will be surprised at how much of your breast gets covered by a nursing baby. You can try breastfeeding in different angles to see which one works best for you and shows off the minimum skin.
- Opt for comfortable clothing
There are a lot of nursing tops and blouses available in the market, with hidden openings to make the whole process of breastfeeding quick and easy. You can also opt for a loose fit shirt with a button-down front that can be unbuttoned while nursing. While some babies are okay with the fabric touching their face, others tend to get anxious and fussy, so make sure you know what suits your little one. You can also try wearing a loose tank top underneath a jacket so that most of your skin will be covered up while you lift up the tank top to feed the baby. If you’re conscious of your stomach being exposed while you lift up the tank top, wear a belly band underneath the tank top. Many nursing covers and wraps are also available in the market to help women breastfeed without hesitation.
- Opt for an easy-access bra
A lot of mothers suggest stretchy sports bra for breastfeeding. This is because it allows you to nurse your little one by simply pulling down the cup of the bra. You can also opt for nursing bras with a latch. Make sure to practice undoing the bra with one hand and then putting it back again at home so that you’re not conscious about it in public.
- Turn away during latching
When your baby is first latching onto your breast, a great portion of your skin will be visible. It’s advisable to turn away from the crowd while latching. Say for instance- if you’re sitting in a café, next to a wall, but still in the sight of other diners, before you begin to latch, turn your front towards the wall and then turn back to the table once you’re done latching. Follow the same while unlatching the baby.
- Watch your infant’s cues
The moment you realize your baby is hungry and needs nursing, you better get down to business. If you take a lot of time to settle down, your baby will become fussy and upset due to hunger and will be more likely to cry, thus leaving you embarrassed in public. On the flip side, a hungry but happy baby will latch on to your breast quickly and not make a scene in the public space.
- Try covering up
If you still feel uncomfortable and unsure about breastfeeding in public, you may want to try covering your baby and breast with a blanket. Try practicing it with a cover at home because some babies do not like having a blanket over their head while breastfeeding and begin to fuss. However, you will still have to follow the above advice of turning your front away while latching. Some mothers also use a broad-brimmed sun hat which is more acceptable by babies.
- Plan your response
At times, no matter how confident you are about nursing in public, an elderly might frown, a security guard might request you to move to the bathroom or a stranger might remark a negative comment and all this could drastically affect your confidence. In such a situation, it can help to have a planned response ready. If nothing works, try politeness and remark that you do not eat in a washroom so how could you feed a baby there.
- Smile and let go
In India, especially in the urban areas, you will experience a number of people staring at you looking horrified or cringing. All you have to do is smile and let go. But, make sure to be aware of bullies. While nourishing your little one is important, don’t forget to spot the difference between a stare that is plain frown and harmless and a stare that seems like a threat. The moment you feel threatened, leave that place and move in a crowded area or raise alarm.
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