Forget planning your outings around your baby’s feeding schedule. Nursing in public is a basic human right, but that doesn’t mean that the prospect comes easily for moms — especially in a modern environment where women have been known to be illegally asked to cover up, move or leave the premises.
The good news is that when you’re nursing your baby, most (if not all) passersby won’t have a clue what you’re doing, so being harassed is actually quite rare. Here are some expert mom tips on how to get comfortable nurturing your baby when you’re out and about.
When you’re doing the nursing, you see plenty of boob — but what others see is far different. The easiest way to discover what others see is to sit down and watch yourself nurse in front of a mirror.
You can check out what’s showing and what’s not and practice latching on and off, which is often the most difficult part of nursing in public. Taylor, mom of two, really felt that practicing was what helped build her confidence. “I would dress, then nurse the baby and look in the mirror to see how much of what was exposed,” she shared.
Another thing to keep in mind is to dress for easy access and your own comfort. Most moms we talked to raved about wearing a tank top under their shirt to keep their belly out of view while keeping the top of their breast under wraps. “A nursing tank under a shirt was my ace!” raved Parker, mom of one. “People would literally walk right up and even touch Cricket thinking she was just asleep. You couldn't see a thing!”
Latching — on and off — is really the only point of breastfeeding that may give you a bit more exposure than you’d like. Turn your body to the side to get Baby latched on and then settle back into your natural posture.
Using a cover may be useful, or it may be a huge distraction for you, your baby and anyone who is around. Some moms report feeling more confident with a cover, while others felt it drew attention to the fact that they were nursing. “My kids just ripped the cover off and I spent more time trying to keep it on than anything,” shared Melinda, mom of three. It’s really a matter of preference for your own comfort. If you (or your baby) don’t like using them, or find them unbearably hot, then you don’t have to.
Another way to be more comfortable nursing is to get out of the flow of traffic. This does not mean finding a bathroom or going out to your car to breastfeed your child — just simply finding a quieter spot to nurse. “I've never cared about nursing in public,” said Brittany, mom of one. “And I've never had anyone care about me nursing in public. If I'm in a super public area I tend to just move to a less populated area and nurse there, like the back of a room or under a tree or something.”
Know the laws in your state about breastfeeding in public. Check out what your laws say and print it out or have it bookmarked on your phone.
In the unlikely case of harassment by an employee of a business you are patronizing, you can let him know that he's in the wrong, and having that knowledge can be a huge confidence boost. “I felt empowered that even if someone didn't like it, the law was on my side,” explained Crystal from Missouri.
Take comfort in the fact that it’s likely that no one has a clue that you’re breastfeeding a baby. “Even though it may feel like everyone is looking at you, generally, no one is looking at you,” Rachael, mom of three, told us. “I feel like once you stop caring what other people think, everything gets a whole lot easier!” And the more you do it, the less of a big deal it will become.
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