Of course, breast milk is the best food for babies. We all agree on that. But breast/chest feeding in public? This can be a hotly debated topic. It is not only those around you who are sometimes embarrassed when a lactating person shows her breasts/chest in a café (or elsewhere). Many mothers-to-be also dread being eyed bare-breasted in public. But always remember, breast/chest feeding, even in front of others, is quite normal and natural. After a little while and a little practice, you’ll get used to it and you’ll probably be relaxed and shameless about breast/chest feeding anywhere. At least that’s our experience. But of course it’s important to us that you feel comfortable in your own skin and in the situation at all times and that’s why we have a few tips to help you get started.
The best tips for breastfeeding in public
Yes, there are those mamas/lactating people for whom breast/chest feeding just goes smoothly right from the start. But for most, it is a challenge at the beginning. So these tips will help make it easier and more comfortable for you.
Practice at home
If it’s your first baby, there’s no better way to prepare for public breast/chest feeding than to practice at home. Test the different breast/chest feeding positions in front of a mirror so you can see how you look and what others can see when you do it (if that’s important to you, of course). This can be sitting or standing. Remember that you won’t have your breast/chest feeding pillow or other aids with you but it should still be comfortable for both of you. Just try it out. It may take a while to find the position that works for you when out and about. Practice makes perfect!
Find a safe, comfortable and quiet place.
There are three things you should never compromise when breast/chest feeding your baby in public: safety, cleanliness and comfort. Which means: don’t quietly retreat to the bathroom. Don’t let your baby have lunch where you wouldn’t do it yourself. If you are breast/chest feeding in the car after shopping, make sure you don’t park in direct sunlight. Some cafés or department stores even have special breast/chest feeding areas that you can use. Otherwise, just ask if there is a quiet place for you to breast/chest feed. A comfortable armchair or chair with an armrest is ideal. Otherwise, depending on how long your baby drinks, your arm may become tired at some point.
Know the hunger signals
You might learn to know your baby’s hunger signals or have a schedule so you know when the next meal is due. Because if you want to breast/chest feed in public, the last thing you want is a crying baby. An upset baby can be harder to settle and latch, so it’s good to recognise the signs early on and start looking for a cosy place. Some babies can be breastfed/chestfed in a noisy place without any problems, others need absolute quiet. So try to adapt to your baby’s needs as much as possible and find a suitable place to breast/chest feed early on.
Breast/chest feeding clothes instead of designer dresses
Keep it simple. Comfort and practical breast/chest feeding clothes are crucial for breast/chest feeding in public. The time when you can wear your “cool” clothes again will come. There are many breast/chest feeding-friendly shirts and dresses that make it easy for you to latch baby on easily. Nursing bras should have an easily accessible clip to fold down. Loose-fitting and/or low-cut shirts, button-up blouses or wrap dresses are some of the best clothes for breast/chest feeding. If you want to show less skin, you can also wear a tank top under a looser shirt. This way you only need to show a small area at a time and not expose everything if you don’t want too.
Breast/chest feeding and carrying – the super combo
Baby carriers or slings are ideal for breast/chest feeding on the go. The practical thing about them is that your baby can sleep contentedly on your breast or chest afterwards. So you don’t have to take off the carrier to breast/chest feed. With a few simple tricks, you can bring your baby to breast/chest feeding height and let him or her drink while sitting or standing. Please see our breast/chest feeding videos on our social channels Instagram and youtube.
Keep a low profile
Is breast/chest feeding allowed in public? Yes! Do you have to hide? No! Are you more comfortable covering your breast? Then feel free to do so. There are special breast/chest feeding scarves or covers that you can use to drape over your shoulder while breast/chest feeding which can also help to reduce the stimuli for your baby when you are in a busy environment. You can also use the hood of your carrier to cover you and your baby if you wish but please make sure that your baby gets enough air. Ultimately, your baby will decide for itself: Some babies hate being covered up while breast/chest feeding, while others are distracted when they’re not and need a cover to create a quiet environment.
Either way, don’t worry when breast/chest feeding on the go. Stress is not good for your milk production or your baby. If you do feel anxious breathing exercises can help to make you feel more relaxed and remember, it’s like being at home, look your baby in the eye – with all your love, and create that intimate moment.