I always giggle a little inside when I think of how many public places I’ve had my breasts out. Immature? Sure, but hilarious to me nonetheless. I was always shy about my body growing up, and if younger me would have known what I was doing now, she’s turn red and hide in her room blasting Nirvana.
With this mothering thing there comes choices and priorities you intend to keep come hell or high water Breastfeeding is one for me. When I first started traveling outside of the house with my first born, I’d take a bottle of breast milk with me to avoid what I thought would be a mortifying and stressful experience. I would think “How would I even do that? Just whip it out? Where? When? EVERYONE WOULD BE LOOKING!” The day I forgot my “just-in-case bottle” I got over this. If you are breastfeeding but fear or worry about doing it in public, here are some tips that helped me to comfortably nurse in any public place.
1. Know the law
In Pennsylvania, we can breastfeed “in any location, public or private, where the mother and child are otherwise authorized to be present, irrespective of whether or not the mother’s breast is covered during or incidental to the breastfeeding,” according the Pennsylvania Freedom to Breastfeed Act. A great resource for learning the federal and state laws for breastfeeding and pumping at work is www.breastfeedinglaw.com. Most states have laws that say anywhere mothers and children are permitted, breastfeeding is also permitted. Booya! If it makes you feel better, have a copy of the law with you. I figure if I say the words “it’s the law” people will usually leave me alone and walk away. People are afraid of laws!
2. Cover yourself
Sure, the law says I don’t have to, but I sure feel better when I know I’m not “educating” small children from the bench at the grocery store. Yes, you can tell me it’s natural and there’s nothing to hide, but it’s just better for me and everyone around if I cover myself. Plus, not everyone feels that way. Get yourself one of those cleverly named “hooter hiders” or something similar or just a nice big piece of fabric like a swaddle or receiving blanket. I’ve grown very fond of my receiving blanket/nursing tank combo. The receiving blanket is soft and “grabs” to my clothes and the nursing tank covers my back and squishy belly while I’m nursing.
3.Location, location, location
When I was at Walmart the other day, Reagan got hungry. I knew their photo center in the back of the store had a bench so I high-tailed it back there and fed her. It turned out there was a lot of traffic back there. I didn’t know there was an entrance to the employees’ lounge and public bathrooms. However, I could have cared less. (Why didn’t I go in a fitting room? Well, I didn’t think of that until now, smarty pants!) In addition to knowing some goods spots at places you go frequently, you should also know that there is ALWAYS a place to go. However, never, ever, EVER nurse in a bathroom unless it has a specific area for you to do so. I did it once at the beginning, and I will NEVER do it again. There’s no reason for it (and it’s gross). Go to your car if you have to, but never, EVER nurse in a bathroom. PLEASE!
4.Keep the other kid(s) busy
No mom wants to run after her other children with her boob hanging out when they go rogue while she’s nursing. Have snacks and/or activities on hand to keep them occupied or pop-a-squat in a non-busy location with some room for them to run free while you can still maintain visual contact. If all else fails, make them sit next to you and threaten their lives and all they value if they move.
5.Act as you always do while nursing
It doesn’t matter where you are, nursing is something very special between you and baby, in my opinion. Talk to your baby, hold his/her hand, pat his/her bum – do what you do and enjoy it.
6.Take as long as it takes
It’s sooooooooooooo easy to rush it when you’re in public. You know how that ends, though – with a still hungry, crying baby two minutes later.
As we’ve discussed, you’re not doing anything wrong. When people walk past, don’t lower your head in shame or embarrassment, look them in the eye and smile! Sometimes they smile back (women). Sometimes they look at the floor and pick up the pace (men). Sometimes they turn around and go the opposite direction (teenagers). Whatever!
What are some tips that have helped you nursing mothers feed your babies in public?