The Do’s and Don’ts of Nursing in Public

Don’t be ridiculous. Do be realistic!
Imagine you are out shopping and you feel like a little snack. So you head to the food court and pick up a quick bite. Then you find a washroom where you can sit in a stall to enjoy your lunch in peace. Wait… what?

You’d never dine in a public washroom, so why should your baby? The thought of breastfeeding in a washroom is ridiculous yet you may encounter people who think otherwise. Your baby deserves to eat when he is hungry and breastfeeding is the natural way to give baby the nutrients he needs to be healthy and happy. So be realistic. Forget the washroom and head to the food court!

Don’t be shy. Do be confident!
If you are unsure about what to expect when nursing in public, remember that every new mother has been in your shoes. More and more mothers are feeding their babies in common areas and manage to do so without drawing unnecessary attention to themselves. Breastfeeding is an acceptable, normal activity so be proud that you are there for your baby when he needs you. Once you have breastfed for the first time away from the comforts of home, you’ll become more and more confident.

Feeling modest? If you are with a friend, you can have them sit next to you to create some privacy while baby latches on. Or turn slightly to the side while baby gets settled. Once you start nursing, carry on with your conversation. Before you know it, breastfeeding will become second nature and you’ll forget all about those around you.

Don’t go for cover. Do go for comfort!
While it’s important for baby to be comfortable when he’s being fed, it’s equally important that you are relaxed and comfortable too. Nothing is more frustrating that scrambling to try to undo your clothing when the little one is grabbing for his dinner source. Choose clothing that is easily accessible to baby and easy to manage for you.

Your best options are wrap-style tops, buttoned necklines or tops with fooler flaps that make it easier on baby and provide some privacy at the same time. If you are in a very public place where you feel uncomfortable nursing (such as a busy restaurant, church or a business function) simply bring a blanket that you can throw over your shoulder and wrap loosely around baby to conceal him while he eats.

Don’t be preoccupied. Do be prepared.
When breastfeeding in a new environment, don’t be preoccupied rushing around at the last second looking for somewhere to nurse. Be prepared by scouting out the location before baby is even ready to eat. Look for a cozy, quiet corner of the mall with a comfy chair or couch, a private bench in the park, away from the noisy play area or a table in a café that is off to the side or out of the way of the front entrance. Try to find a spot that has good back support.

Consider feeding baby in the car before going in so you’ll have some time between feedings. Be sure you have a bottle of water on hand and tissue or wipes within reach. The better prepared you are, the more enjoyable feeding time will be for you both.

Don’t react to baby’s crying. Do react to baby’s sign language.
Nothing draws attention or is more upsetting than hearing the cries of a distraught baby.

Pay attention to your baby and watch for signs that he is hungry. He will put his hands in his mouth, touch his face, reach for you and will start to get fussy. That’s your cue that he’s hungry and wants to be fed. The faster you react to feeding him, the less stressful it wlll be.

Don’t limit yourself. Do try new ways of breastfeeding.
If you can walk and chew gum, you can walk and breastfeed! Once you’ve mastered breastfeeding any time, anywhere, try something new like a baby sling which allows you to nurse on the go. The sling cradles baby completely so that both baby and your breast are out of sight and you can be hands free. Slings take a little getting used to so practice at home until you’re comfortable using a baby sling in public. There are several types available so ask other Moms or go online and read baby forums to see what other Moms are saying.

Before you know it, you’ll be a nursing pro, in private and in public.

Happy breastfeeding!