breastfeeding in public
Not only is it really important to me to exclusively breastfeed my baby, it's also important that I breastfeed him in public. Why? Because I want the world to know that it's normal. When my baby is hungry, he needs to eat. Right now this is the way he eats and there's nothing shameful about that. I was actually really nervous to publicly breastfeed Liam in the beginning. I would make sure to go out right after I fed him so he would be satisfied and I would return home before he would be hungry again. This would make for very hurried outings. Little by little, though, I have become more comfortable with nursing him where ever I am. Here are a few tips that I've picked up along the way. If you're a new mother who is exclusively breastfeeding and need a bit of help getting comfortable doing it in public I hope these tips help you...
- Start small. The first "public" place that I nursed Liam was at a friend's house. It was the first time I nursed him out of the privacy of my own home, but it still wasn't out in public in front of strangers. I was in the company of trusted friends who didn't make me feel weird about it at all. Next I nursed Liam in the back of the car in front of a coffee shop. Again, not too public, but I was getting out there. Now I've nursed him at Starbucks, church, and restaurants while eating lunch. Baby steps.
- Dress appropriately. You have to have easy access to the boob in order to nurse in public. I like wearing v-neck shirts (easy to pull down), button-up shirts (just un-do a few buttons), or anything with a zipper in front. Also, I don't find much use for nursing tanks. They're either expensive, ugly, or not very comfortable. I just use regular camis if I need to. They're easy enough to pull down.
- Be modest. This kind of goes hand-in-hand with the previous point. I don't know about you, but I don't exactly want the whole world seeing my breasts. No, I'm not ashamed of them...and no, I don't think there's anything obscene about breastfeeding...but I'd rather not make anyone else feel uncomfortable with the sight of my breasts (even though it's perfectly acceptable to hang giant Victoria's Secret ads with half-naked women in the middle of a mall...dumb). That's why I always use a nursing cover. I have to say, nursing covers are not my favorite. I find them a bit clumsy to use, but I am not yet a nursing ninja. [Nursing ninjas are what I call those women who nurse their babies while they're in a sling as they stroll the aisles of Target. Amazing. I'm just not there yet, but maybe some day.]
- Stop caring about what others think. In my experience, people absolutely do not care that you are nursing your baby in public. I've never gotten any nasty stares or comments. Most people just mind their own business. I think if you don't act weird about it, neither will anyone else. And even if you do get weird looks, who cares? You are doing something so important, you are nourishing your child. If a bottle-fed baby can have his dinner in public, then so can a breast-fed baby. Just relax and don't even worry about it.
- Look at helpful resources. It is within your legal rights to nurse anywhere you need to. Maybe you could read up on breastfeeding laws so that you are well-informed and feel more comfortable. I also looked at a few youtube videos of women talking about how they nurse in public and read some blogposts to get tips, like this one and this one. Also, I love milkfriendly.com. It's helped me feel empowered and see what fashionable nursing-friendly clothes are out there.