A common concern among novice breastfeeding mothers is what to do when your nursing infant needs to be fed and you are away from the safety and comfort of your home, your favorite nursing chair and your breastfeeding pillow. The baby begins to whimper and show signs of hunger. Your palms grow sweaty. The baby starts to wail. Suddenly everyone is looking at you. What to do?
This is a dilemma faced by breastfeeding mothers every day. Sadly, some women decide not to breastfeed because they are so concerned about the possibility of exposing themselves in public. I can now laugh when I remember my first attempt at feeding my new baby. I parked my car in what I thought was a safe, quiet neighborhood, climbed into the back seat and “latched on”. Just as I was feeling pretty darn good about my abilities, I was greeted with cat whistles, cheers and applause. I had chosen to park my car across the street from a high rise building under construction. Apparently, I was the entertainment for the morning coffee break. Oh well.
What expectant women need to know is that, unlike me, mothers are breastfeeding their babies in public frequently and the surrounding population are none the wiser. It does require some experience and knowledge before a mom can calmly and easily nurse her baby without anyone being aware that the baby is actually feeding.
Here are some simple tips to help you get started.
1)To provide you with some sense of modesty, invest in a few articles of “nursing clothing”. At The Pump Station & Nurtury
one of our favorite products is the
Bebe au Lait nursing apron.
2) Locate a breastfeeding mothers’ support group in your community. Many new mothers find great comfort in breastfeeding for the first time while among other nursing mothers and new babies in a closed room. Novice mothers can observe experienced mothers nursing without pillows in positions which allow for privacy and modesty.
3) Once you network with other nursing mothers, you can arrange to go out for coffee with a group of experienced moms. Beginners find great comfort in being surrounded by women who breastfeed in any situation. Safety in numbers applies here. If the thought of all the other customers in Starbucks leaving in disgust worries you, stop! Think of yourself as a role model changing the culture for future mothers. And besides, you won’t need to wait in line for your coffee.
4) Next, park your car in an area where you feel safe. You are breastfeeding in public, but the car will provide a sense of privacy, unless of course you have chosen to park under a high rise building during construction.
5) When ready, go to a park during a time when few people are around. This will enable you to feed in public, yet no one is really around to make you feel uncomfortable.
6) Scout out department stores and restaurants that are baby friendly. These facilities will have family lounges, couches, etc. where you will be comfortable and undoubtedly encounter other nursing mothers. Nordstrom is a wonderful example of this.
7) Find a restaurant where you can sit in the back, out of the way of most of the diners. A booth also gives a sense of privacy. Practice here.
The more you practice, the more comfortable you will become. Eventually the sweaty palms resolve and nursing your baby in any environment becomes second nature. Corky Harvey (RN, IBCLC, MS and Co-Founder of The Pump Station) and I were recently interviewed about breastfeeding in public. If you would like in depth information regarding helpful tips, public breastfeeding and the law, and clever gear visit our site on our Resources page
. Search for Corky Harvey and Wendy Haldeman to pull up thirty years of experience in guiding new mothers to breastfeed out of the home.