You’ve managed to get into the groove of breastfeeding at home, whether that’s in a quiet room on your own or with other kids running about the place. Either way, the privacy and comfort of home really does help when you’re a new mummy or new to breastfeeding – it’s not easy so well done on wherever you are on your breastfeeding journey (and well done if you’ve chosen other feeding methods – a fed baby is a happy baby).
It’s really important to remember that breastfeeding is a legal right in the UK. This means that you have a right to breastfeed in any public place without being treated unfavourably. Any unfavourable treatment is deemed sex discrimination. So whether you’re in a cafe, restaurant or on a park bench, you have a right to breastfeed your child. Note however that restaurants/cafes can request you to sit in another part of the establishment (usually for your comfort) but they cannot ask you to leave.
For those new to breastfeeding the thought of heading out of your home and breastfeeding in public can be daunting. Remember however that the wonderful thing about breastfeeding is that you have all your ‘equipment’ with you: the temperature of your milk is perfect for your baby and you don’t need anything more than just you and a safe place to sit to feed your baby. This being said, not everyone is comfortable with whipping out their boob in public. This may be down to nerves about what others will think to wanting to keep some modesty and your body covered. Either way, here are some tips that will help you prepare for your first few outings with your breastfed baby.
Tips for breastfeeding in public
- Perfect your technique – Practicing your technique at home is a great way to build your confidence when you venture out and about. Breastfeeding in front of a mirror will help you see how exposed you are and what you’re comfortable with. Some mothers find visiting breastfeeding cafes or locations where mothers tend to meet to help them build their confidence with breastfeeding in public. You can find information on local cafes/meetings via your local health visitor. You may also want to plan an outing with other mums, family members or friends who can support you.
- Wear appropriate clothing – Think about what you’re wearing and how easy it will be to adjust your clothing when breastfeeding while you’re out. Anything with buttons helps to access your breast easily e.g. button down dresses, shirts or blouses. Tops with stretchy necklines or wrap over dresses and cardigans also work well. Many clothing stores have nursing options too which include clothes made specifically to support breastfeeding such as tops with lift up panels.
- Plan ahead – It’s worth doing some research ahead of your outing. Have a look at the places you will be visiting to see if they have cafes nearby, specific feeding areas and/or changing and feeding facilities. This will help the last minute panic of where to feed when your baby is hungry.
- Covers – Many mums make use of a cape or cover to maintain privacy when feeding. Covers could include an oversized muslin, scarf or shawl which you can drape over your breast and baby. Muslins are recommended to prevent overheating in warmer weather. You can also make use of a breastfeeding cape which is specifically designed for feeding – they tend to hook over your head and have a wire top to be able to see your baby easily when feeding. These can be found online or in most department stores. One thing to note however is that some babies don’t like being covered or get easily distracted so do have a practice with these at home before you head out.
- Managing milky leaks – If you’re prone to leaking then it’s wise to keep some breast pads with you and a spare top. Patterned clothing or something with a busy print tend to disguise leaks as well as a shawl or a scarf to hide the wet patches.
Good luck on your breastfeeding journey and journeys out of the house! It’s daunting but with every outing you will learn something new and find your own tips and tricks too.
Mum to Averie (3yo) and Acer (under a month)