One of the benefits of breastfeeding is that it makes it easier to travel or go on outings with your baby. When feeding direct from the breast, your baby is more portable, as you don’t need to bring bottles or much other equipment with you on a trip out.
When thinking about feeding your baby in public, everyone is different. You may not have much experience seeing mothers breastfeeding out and about and are finding the idea daunting, or you may be excited to hit the ground running and feed baby anywhere and everywhere, or you may be somewhere in between. All these reactions are normal.
The most important thing to remember is that breastfeeding is normal and that your right to breastfeed your baby anywhere you choose, including in public spaces is protected in law. In Ireland the Equal Status Act 2000 protects your right to breastfeed in public and protects you from discrimination due to breastfeeding, e.g. under the Act, you cannot be asked to leave a premises because you are breastfeeding. In the UK this right is covered by the Equality Act 2010. Some businesses provide special infant feeding rooms but you are not obliged to use them if you prefer to feed where you are.
Getting Started With Breastfeeding In Public
- Build Up Your Confidence: If you are nervous about feeding in public, it can be a good idea to start in a familiar, friendly environment like a breastfeeding group. It is a good opportunity to see other parents feeding their babies and you might pick up a few tips from them.
- Bring Backup: Breastfeeding in public can feel daunting the first few times, but it becomes second nature the more you do it. It can help you to feel more confident to bring your partner, a friend or your own mum with you when you are starting out.
- Dress Comfortably: The more you breastfeed out and about, the more your confidence will grow and the more insight you will have into what makes it easier for you. Whatever you choose to wear, it will help if it is easy to open and access for your baby. A nursing bra can make it easier to feed as you can open the cups easily. Layering is your friend when you are feeding on the go, a loose top layered over a vest means you can lift the loose top up and the top of the vest down for easy access with good tummy coverage underneath- if you are outdoors on colder days this is very useful! Busy patterns on the outer layer can disguise any leaks or stains when you use it as an impromptu muslin if your baby possets a lot. Some baby carriers are comfortable and suitable to feed in on the go.
- Practise: If you are worried about feeding in public, try practising at home before you take the plunge. Feeding baby as you would in public in front of a mirror at home can help you to see how cute your feeding baby is for yourself.
- Go With the Flow: Don’t stress yourself out about scheduling baby’s feeds when out and about and don’t let it take away from your enjoyment of your trip out. Treat it the same way as you would if you or a friend wanted to stop for a coffee or a snack or to pop in to a particular shop on the way somewhere. If you see baby’s hunger cues, just go ahead and feed, nobody will mind waiting a few minutes, especially if you combine it with everyone stopping for a hot chocolate or a cake!
- There Are No Rules: It doesn’t matter where you are, or how old your child is, or if baby is feeding for comfort, if you want to feed your baby, go ahead and feed your baby.
- Be Proud, Be You: The more comfortable you feel, the easier you will find it to feed, so do whatever makes you feel good when you are feeding out and about. Breastfeeding is a normal, natural and beautiful thing, don’t be worried about feeding in public, be proud!
Do you have any tips or thoughts on feeding in public? Share them below