Breastfeeding in Public – Suggestions

The thought of breastfeeding in public is often daunting for women experiencing breastfeeding for the first time. They are often self-conscious while learning, and the thought of having to do it in public can cause some feelings of anxiety. This is very common.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be done right away or at all if that’s what they choose. While most women will handle this easily at some point, it is a very personal decision. While your baby is young and feeding frequently, finding time to go outside without your baby can be challenging, and for some, nearly impossible. The reassurance that breastfeeding in public is something that can be done later usually helps ease the anxiety associated with it. Breastfeeding is a learned skill: it takes time to become comfortable and competent with it. Once women feel comfortable breastfeeding at home, they can consider breastfeeding when they are away. Often this happens out of necessity rather than choice as they find they have to go to the stores, doctor or other business for care and it just happens. They are usually pleasantly surprised and proud of their achievement that once seemed like an overwhelming obstacle.

To help make breastfeeding in public easier, being mindful and purposeful in what you wear can make a world of difference. It is helpful to wear easily accessible tops for breastfeeding. It helps to button up the front, have a panel to access below the bra line, or have easy access from the bottom or collar of the shirt. Some women also use a special wrap, blanket, or cover to breastfeed. This is placed over the mother’s shoulder and over the baby so that the mother can breastfeed in public and remain completely inconspicuous.

Once more confident of breastfeeding in public, women often switch to breastfeeding in more public places, such as mall or sidewalk benches, coffee shops, or the car, even while walking. Trying to time feedings so baby doesn’t starve, squirm and cry can help keep your baby calm and help make the experience more enjoyable and successful for both of you.

Breastfeeding is a completely natural activity and should be widely accepted. Women should not be forced, encouraged or directed to breastfeed in a bathroom and this is completely unacceptable. That’s the equivalent of the rest of us eating in the bathroom, which we would refuse to do. They should also not feel embarrassed about breastfeeding in public.

Public education about the acceptance of breastfeeding in the public needs continued support. Fortunately, there are many groups and organizations that continue this work on a daily basis.