Stress-free nursing in public
Mastering breastfeeding takes patience. With time you learn proper latch-on, positioning, and how to gauge your baby’s sensitivity to external stimuli while nursing.
But once you have that down and are ready to hit the road with your baby, how do you get comfortable nursing in public? Inevitably your little one may need to nurse when you are out at the mall, in a restaurant, at a wedding, or in the park.
Stress-free nursing in public can be as simple as: scoping out a spot, dressing for it, and feeling confident about what you are doing.
Scope out a spot: Some moms and nurslings are comfortable nursing out in the middle of all the action. Other babies are distracted by outside activity while nursing, and some moms need a relaxed spot in order to let down. It is almost always possible to carve out a private space. If you are in a shopping mall, an empty dressing room is ideal for privacy and quiet. Or try one of the comfortable lounges before the entrance to ladies’ rooms in department stores. In a restaurant, positioning your chair away from the activity will create a personal space for you and your nursling. If you are at a wedding or party, find a separate room to escape to. If you cannot, moving to a quieter corner towards the back can work as well.
Dress for it: Anticipate your outing when getting dressed. Make sure that your clothing provides nursing access – for example, having to lift one’s dress up from the bottom to nurse would not be conducive to public breastfeeding! Make sure your top can lift comfortably or that your dress has buttons or another type of opening at the top. A light blanket or loose scarf can provide additional discretion. Wearing a baby sling is ideal since your nursling can breastfeed peacefully and discreetly while you are going about your day. Wearing a nursing camisole or nursing top makes breastfeeding even more discreet by keeping your body covered while you nurse.
Feel confident about what you are doing: The most important thing is to feel confident about nursing your baby. While it’s true that some people may not be used to the sight of a nursing woman, if you feel good about what you are doing, you will project that image to others. They in turn will feel more relaxed too. In short, people will take their cues from you, and when you give off the signal that you are comfortable with what you are doing, others will be too.
As an extension of the tips above, try to nurse your baby before leaving the house to give yourself more time before the next feeding. You can also nurse in the car (not while driving of course!) right before getting out. Finally, read your baby’s cues and nurse them before they get too hungry, to minimize fussiness while breastfeeding in unfamiliar places.
Enjoy nursing your little one – no matter where you are – knowing that you are giving him the best possible nutrition, and helping to create a very special bond.
Elisa Minsk Hartstein earned her MBA from Columbia University, is the mother of 4 breastfed children, and is the founder of Milk Nursingwear www.milknursingwear.com. Prior to founding Milk, she created the Expressiva Nursingwear brand, which she sold in 2007.