Breastfeeding can be challenging, especially during the first weeks of your baby’s life and even more so if this is your first time doing it.
Most moms spend hours researching proper nursing positions and worrying if their baby is getting enough milk but unfortunately many of them have to worry about nursing in public too. Everyone has seen those viral posts where women have been shamed for breastfeeding in public and fears about that happening to them too.
Breastfeeding is every mother’s and baby’s right. The law supports this by stating that if you are allowed to be in that place, then you are allowed to nurse. No one can ask you to go use a bathroom or to cover up. However when you are confronted for nursing it might be hard to stand up for yourself.
This is why I want to share with you these tips so you can nurse in public without fear:
- Know your rights. Both federal and state laws exist to protect nursing mothers. If you fear being confronted for nursing, get familiar with your state law. You can even make business cards with your state’s breastfeeding law and hand them out if anyone confronts you about it.
- Wear clothing that will make you feel comfortable when breastfeeding. A lot of women don’t like exposing their breasts when nursing. There is special clothing that allows for easy nursing without exposing too much but there is a more cost effective solution: the two shirt method.
The two shirt method is when you wear a tank top underneath your shirt. When your baby wants to nurse you can lift up your top shirt and pull down the bottom shirt (tank top), this way your breast won’t be exposed.
- Use a cover, but ONLY if this is what YOU want. This is a very personal preference, some women like to cover themselves and others don’t but if this makes you feel more confident then cover up. I personally don’t use a cover because it is too uncomfortable for me and my babies didn’t like it, plus I feel it can draw more attention to me. I use the two shirt method and most people don’t even realize I’m nursing.
- Find a comfortable place to nurse in. If you’re not feeling comfortable and relaxed when nursing it can be easier for others around you to notice that you’re feeding your child. Feeling comfortable with what you’re doing helps to keep the negative comments away so look for a place and chair where you’ll feel comfortable nursing but please don’t feel like you have to hide. Remember, this is you and your baby’s right.
- Breastfeed in a baby carrier. You can nurse in any babywearing device and most people won’t even know you’re nursing. A big plus about breastfeeding this way is that you can keep running your errands while your baby is feeding. If you’re unsure how to breastfeed in a carrier look for videos demonstrating how to do it.
- Pump your breastmilk at home and bottle feed your baby when you’re out. This is a good option if you don’t want to nurse in public at all but keep in mind that sometimes your baby might be hungrier than usual or you might be out longer than expected and will have to breastfeed when you run out of milk.
My babies have never taken a bottle so this was never an option for me but I have several friends that prefer to do it this way.
- Breastfeed in public as much as you can. ‘Practice makes perfect’ is true in this case. The more you nurse the easier it becomes and the more confident you become. If someone confronts you after you’ve been nursing for a while you will find it easier to educate this person on your rights as well as on the benefits of breastfeeding.
I used feel uncomfortable and would try to hide more when I first started nursing but now that I have a second nursling I feel really confident about it and nurse anywhere.
- Ignore any negative comments. If you find yourself being confronted for nursing or hearing negative comments around you, ignore them. Remember, you are doing what is best for you child and giving you baby the best start in life. Other people’s opinions aren’t as important as your baby.
Nurse at home in front of a mirror, the same way you would nurse if you were out. You’ll be able to see how much of your breast is actually visible and you can adjust your clothing until you feel comfortable. You’ll be surprised to find out how little of your breast is actually exposed when nursing.
A lot of places now offer nursing rooms so if you’re still unsure about breastfeeding in public, look for these rooms or even ask at a store or agency if they can provide you with a private room to nurse in. Most places will accommodate you. I know I said this before but I want you to remember that this is your right, do not feel like you have to hide.
The fear of being criticized for nursing in public should not stop you for doing what’s right for you and your baby. As more moms start nursing when they’re out our society will become more comfortable with this and educated on the benefits of breastfeeding. Don’t let the shammers have power on this issue. You are a mom. You know what’s best. This is your right. The law is on your side and you have every right to nurse wherever you want to nurse. So, nurse on mamas…
Have you ever been shamed for nursing in public? How did you deal with it?
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