Breastfeeding in Public. Tips for new mums- by Lou Burns
Lou Burns was thrust into the limelight recently when she tweeted about being told to “cover up” whilst breastfeeding in Claridges.
Mother of three, Lou has kindly shared her top tips for feeding in public.
For some lucky women and babies, breastfeeding comes naturally but for many of us it can be more challenging and takes a bit of time and patience to get the hang of. If breastfeeding does work for you, you might feel self-conscious about doing it in public to begin with but with a bit of practice you’ll be an expert in no time. Here are a few tips to help you on your way.
- Stay local. When you first start breastfeeding you are likely to be feeding your baby on demand so you might be anxious about going too far afield before you have established a routine. You may also feel more relaxed about breastfeeding in public in a familiar and/or baby-friendly environment such as your local café or soft-play.
- Dress the part. Make sure that you feel comfortable and confident in what you’re wearing. There are plenty of stylish feeding tops on the market or you might prefer to improvise with your pre-pregnancy wardrobe, which you’ll no doubt be itching to get back into! A jumper or T-shirt (pulled up and around your baby’s head) works well with a vest worn underneath (pulled down) and has the benefit of covering your tummy.
- Take a muslin. Muslins are always handy for winding but can also fulfil a number of other functions, such as doubling up as a feeding cover(particularly the extra-large variety). In the early days it can take your baby a little while to latch on so you might feel more at ease if you have something at hand to protect your modesty.Alternatively, you may prefer to buy a purpose-made feeding cover or none at all.
- Practice makes perfect. You might find that using a feeding cover hinders your baby’s ability to achieve and maintain a good latch if he or she is not used to it. If you think you’ll be more comfortable using a cover to feed while you’re out and about, try practising with it at home first.
- Take someone with you. As time passes and you and your baby become more experienced you will feel much more confident about breastfeeding in public. The first time you venture out, however, you might feel more relaxed taking your partner, your mother or a friend along for company and moral support.
- Plan ahead. When you’re ready to go out for a whole day, make sure that there’ll be somewhere comfortable for you to breastfeed, such as a café or mother and baby room. Few things in life are more stressful than walking around in public with a hungry screaming baby and not being able to find anywhere to feed.
- Do what’s comfortable for you. We all have our own boundaries with regard to breastfeeding or otherwise and these may change with time or circumstance. You may feel more at ease breastfeeding anonymously in your local café than surrounded by people you know at Uncle Tony’s 70th. Likewise, you might find that you’re more comfortable wearing a feeding cover in the early days but that you prefer not to use one in time. When and where you choose to feed and what you wear is entirely up to you.
- Know your rights. The 2010 Equality Act states that it is discrimination to treat a woman unfavourably because she is breastfeeding. You are absolutely entitled to breastfeed your baby in a public place with a few minor exceptions including places offering a single sex service for men or where there might be a legitimate health and safety risk. No one can ask you to stop breastfeeding or refuse to serve you. Don’t feel that you need to go somewhere private (unless, of course, you want to) and never feel that you should feed in a public loo. You wouldn’t eat there and your baby shouldn’t either.
- Try not to worry about what other people will think. You’re very unlikely to experience any negative reaction to breastfeeding in public. If you do, or if you find that you’re having a wobble in confidence, just remember that you are amazing. Becoming a new mother can be emotional and exhausting. You’ve just produced another human being and now you’re keeping him/her alive. With your breasts! You are providing your lucky baby with the best possible start in life so give yourself a massive high five and feel proud!
If you enjoyed this, you make like to read our other articles on Breastfeeding