‘Of course you pull off now to see what that noise was, I think all those people over there saw my nipple’
‘Here comes the waiter, is he going to ask me to leave or does he want to take my drink order?’
‘This is great! Baby is nursing and I can watch soccer practice at the same time. I’m super Mom!’
These may be some of the thoughts running through your head while breastfeeding in public.
I love so many things about breastfeeding; but one of my favourite things is the freedom to be on the go. All you need is you -and your baby of course- you are good to go anywhere! Moms should feel safe to breastfeed in public without fear of discrimination or recrimination. Thankfully, in Canada we have a Human Rights Code that protects you as a nursing mother; you are allowed to breastfeed in public anywhere you can legally go! No one can ask you to cover up, to move somewhere more discreet, or ask you to leave. So get out there with your baby and feel safe breastfeeding anywhere, anytime.
Some Moms question how to breastfeed comfortably in public, here are my tips for those nervous:
Wardrobe selection: When looking in your closet for what to wear for the day choose something you are comfortable in. Layering can be very helpful if you are concerned about showing your body while latching or feeding. Wearing a nursing tank (or belly band), and a T-shirt can make latching in public easy; you lift up the shirt and still have the tank covering any post-baby tummy you want covered and the shirt can make it easy to expose as little of your breast as you choose. Choosing an easy open nursing bra or tank will also help with a seamless latch-on. Latching with these tricks is not a requirement, you latch in public in which ever way is comfortable for you.
Practice makes perfect: Practice latching at home in a mirror, or with friends or family whom you trust to let you know what is showing. This way you can tailor any exposure that you may be concerned about. You are most likely to be exposed during latch-on, so if you are concerned you can turn into a wall, or use a blanket, then turn back or remove the blanket once baby is nursing comfortably.
Accessorize on the fly: If you use a pillow while nursing at home, try using your diaper bag or a blanket to prop baby up. You can try leaning back so baby’s weight is braced on your stomach, or elevate your legs on a makeshift stool – your stroller may work well; don’t forget to apply the brakes first!
All wrapped up: Try nursing in a carrier, wrap, or sling; It is not always easy at first but, with practice, you can perfect the art of nursing while walking and baby wearing. There are a lot of videos with tips and tricks specific to your wrap or carrier available on youtube.
Relax, stay awhile: Find a comfy spot. Many malls, among other places, offer a “family lounge”, these can be great places to nurse comfortably. This is not necessary though if you prefer not to; remember that you can nurse anywhere you are comfortable.
To cover or not to cover: Using a cover is a personal preference. Some Moms find it awkward or difficult to latch baby while covered. Some babies hate being under the cover and refuse to eat while under it. Some Moms will tell you it draws more attention to them verses nursing without it.
Always remember: there is no right or wrong way to breastfeed in public and no one can ask you to stop. Over time you will find you get more comfortable with nourishing your baby on the go!
How do you breastfeed in public? What makes it easier for you? Do you have some words of encouragement for nervous Moms-on-the-go?
I hope these tips help!
Katie Wickham RN BScN IBCLC