I am a proud breastfeeding mother; having breastfed my firstborn until 25 months and still going strong with my second born at 15 months. Breastfeeding is the most natural way to feed your child, with an abundance of benefits including providing the perfect nutritional composition for bubba, convenience and portability.
With two ravenously hungry boys, there has been no avoiding breastfeeding in public. I’ve whipped out my boobs all over the place! In restaurants, parks, shopping centres, buses, planes, during ab crunches in a yoga class and even whilst hiking up a mountain!
While I have now grown comfortable with this process, I do still remember the anxiety experienced in the beginning, which I’m sure many new breastfeeding mothers can relate to.
Here are my top 10 tips for breastfeeding in public:
1. Practice makes perfect
Make sure you’ve got your technique right. It’s hard to be comfortable when out in public if you are still working out the most comfortable positioning for both you and bubba. If you use a feeding pillow at home, make sure you practice feeding without it as well. I’m pretty sure a pillow won’t fit in your nappy bag… just saying…
2. It's all about the layers
Ensure you wear clothing that allows for accessibility. This includes wearing a feeding bra. There are plenty of specifically designed feeding tops available, however a singlet top underneath a loose fitting shirt also does the trick. The shirt gets pulled up from the bottom and the singlet gets pulled down from the top. This allows the breast to be covered at the top and also keeps the mid-section covered too. Another way to cover your belly when your top gets pulled up is to keep rocking those maternity pants… Just hoist them up high!
3. Don't wait too long
Try to anticipate when your baby will be hungry and feed bubba before they begin to fuss. The hungrier they are, the more challenges you will have in trying to get a good latch and also the crying will drawing more attention to yourself.
4. Try to reduce distractions
If there is too much stimulus (whether it be visual or noise), they might prefer to be checking out their new and exciting surrounds, rather than having a feed. Find a quiet place to limit distractions or consider wearing a silicone bead necklace, to keep them focused locally.
5. Consider covering up with a nursing cover or lightweight muslin cloth
This helps to create a little ‘privacy zone’ for you and bubba. There are plenty of stylish options available for purchase nowadays. Make sure there is enough airflow so bubba can breathe and that they aren’t covered with heavy material directly on their head (certainly not the most comfortable or safe way to eat!)
6. Feed in a carrier
This option definitely requires a little practice at first (with setup) and may or may not be possible depending on your breast size and bubba’s size relative to where they sit in the carrier. However, it is a convenient option for feeding when out and about and you’ve got a lot of things to try and get done.
7. Seek out a parent room
Sometimes you may just want your own privacy and choose to seek out a parent room. Most have private cubicles, with either a lock or a privacy curtain to draw across. Some also have larger spaces available with designated play areas or cartoons playing on a TV screen to keep older siblings occupied.
8. Know your rights
In Australia, breastfeeding mummas are protected under the Sex Discrimination Act 1984. If you feel as though you have been discriminated against, you can lodge a complaint with either the Federal Commission or relevant state agency. Conciliation between the parties is the usual course of action after a valid complaint has been lodged.
9. Change your mindset
You’re probably more uncomfortable than other people are; and most won’t even notice. Be confident that you are doing a great job as a mumma, responding to your bubba’s needs as appropriate. A fed bubba is a happy one and their needs should be top priority.
10. Seek out help
If you are experiencing any difficulties with breastfeeding (from painful nursing, to latching or supply), the Australian Breastfeeding association website has an abundance of information and resouces, or you can call the Breastfeeding Hotline directly on 1800 686 268.