In Australia, all mums have a legal right to breastfeed in public, and must not be discrimated against if they choose to exercise that right. However many mums have told me stories of instances where they have been criticised by others when nursing their babies or toddlers in public places. I suspect that feeling self-conscious about breastfeeding is a contributing factor to mums ceasing to breastfeed in the early days.
I’m a strong advocate of breastfeeding, where it is possible, and by no means think that nursing mums should hide themselves or their breasts away while feeding. However I offer the following tips to women who wish to feed discreetly while in public.
- Find a quiet and comfortable place to feed. If your baby is distracted by noise or movement, then he is more likely to fuss and pull away thereby exposing your breast and nipple.
- Good positioning of your baby is important for attachment, however I found that once I mastered the Front Hold (or cradle position) my baby’s head obscured the majority of my breast while feeding.
- Be prepared - You might need clean breastpads, a mop-up cloth or facewasher and bottle of water. Have everything you need within reach before starting to feed.
- Dress appropriately - By choosing tops with easy access, you won’t be left with more skin exposed that you are comfortable with. Specially designed nursingwear will keep your back tummy and upper breast covered while feeding. There are many different types of nursingwear openings, so find a style that you feel comfortable with and suits your body/breast shape. Cotton or cotton-rich fabric will help keep you cool. (see previous post on this topic called “Nursingwear opening styles for breastfeeding”)
- Drape a muslin wrap over your shoulder, and tuck one end under your bra strap (to prevent it from slipping off). This can also provide your baby with some shade/warmth if you are feeding outside.
- Be confident - once you get the hang of it and have some positive experiences from breastfeeding in public, it will become easier.
The Australian Breastfeeding Association is doing some terrific work in changing society’s perception of breastfeeding and making it more acceptable. My hope is that openly breastfeeding in public becomes a non-issue and mothers can nurse where ever they choose.
Find more information on breastfeeding in my blog - (search for Whimsey Nursing & Maternity Wear blog)