If you see a mother breastfeeding in public, its because her baby is hungry. She most probably feels just as awkward as the person rushing by with a stare of disgust. But I tell ya… babies (particularly newborns) are the most demanding little creatures when they’re hungry. A mother has no choice but to feed “it”.
Most mothers prefer to breastfeed their babies because it nurtures their baby’s health, growth, immunity and development. Breast milk contains antibodies that helps a baby’s brand new body fight off viruses and allergies. It works like magic! Raising our daughters on breast milk for the first few months of their lives was the best thing. They benefited greatly from it. It is the most healthiest milk out and rare. Rare? well, yeah. It’s the one thing that can’t be commercially bought, a monopoly held only by mothers.
In saying all of this… 🙂
I dreaded breastfeeding in public.
Only because it took a while for me to learn the different techniques of covering and positioning. It was a horrifying experience. But over time I got better where I was able to breastfeed more confidently and discreetly without anyone recognizing. I had a few mothers say “you shouldn’t have to be discreet about it, it’s natural”. True, it is natural. But I personally choose to be discreet because it’s my way of being considerate of the other shoppers, consumers or passer-by.
Then you get people who like to make it their business and voice their opinions about you breastfeeding in public. Covered or not they will scowl at you. Why is that? To be honest I’m not sure, but I think it has something to do with breasts. They seem to not get past the word “breast” to “feed”, feeding a baby. If we called it something else, like “feeding” or “babyfeeding” the brain would probably start associating the act with providing a necessity and not merely a body part. Really?
Who knows… I’m not even gonna get into it…
I want to talk about something more motivating, like how you can have a better experience while breastfeeding in public, particularly for first time mommas. I compiled 7 quick tips you can follow while you’re out with your baby.
1. Know your rights: Educate yourself about your rights to breastfeed in public. Do some research and find out if there are laws that protect you breastfeeding in public. In NZ there is no particular law that grants a mom the rights to breastfeed in public areas. However, under the Human Rights Commissions Act 1977 moms are protected from being discriminated against as a woman and fulfilling her motherhood duties, breastfeeding is one of them. Your baby has the human right to food, which is temporarily breast milk. If you’re treated unfairly it can be deemed as a form of sex discrimination.
2. Ask questions: Ask your mom, sisters, aunties, friends and anyone you know who has breastfed their baby. How they managed to feed their babies in public areas. You can even do a little research online, look for mommy groups on Facebook, there are plenty. If you have any concerns or worries, ask. Without a doubt you will find an answer.
3. Comfortable clothing: Wear clothes you feel comfortable to breastfeed in that requires less fiddling and shifting. A couple of clothing to consider are nursing tops, shirt with buttons or tops with a stretchy neckline. By the time I had my second baby, I was a dedicated and confident nursing mom. I would wear a tank top underneath and a pretty top over it. When it was time to feed, I would pull the bottom layer down from the neckline and lift the top layer up. Not only does this technique serve as a second security if the blanket falls, but it keeps everything else tucked and covered. Voila!
4. Pick your spot: If you’re out with your friends or family and your baby is due for a feed, scan the area and pick a spot. Choose a space you will feel most comfortable to feed. I normally like to find a corner or an area with a wall behind me to safely lean on.
5. Cover-up: As mentioned above, I prefer to cover up when I’m breastfeeding in public. I would always pack a light blanket or my poncho. I quite like the poncho because it sits securely around my neck, over my back and front. There are also the commercial nursing covers (like this). Or you can be creative and make your own.
6. Be confident: Own it! Let your hair down and enjoy your time out with your baby. You have every right to be out savouring public interaction whilst appreciating your motherhood duties of feeding your baby.
7. Plan your response: Be prepared for comments or remarks that may fly your way. Just squirt them in the face. Kidding! Please, Don’t do that.How should you respond? I think I’ll leave that up to you. 😉
And there you have it. Breastfeeding in public at its best! What has your experience been like? Leave a comment below and tell me all about it…