Being a new mom is stressful enough, fresh air can do the body good, even for babies. No one wants to stay cooped up in their house if they are breastfeeding every two hours on demand. The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding is for children up to 6 months of age, with continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods for up to two years of age or beyond.
If someone told you while pregnant that you needed to stay in your home for two years, how would you react? You shouldn’t feel obligated to stay at home and not enjoy activities like everyone else just because you have had a baby. Get out there and help make breastfeeding something “normal”, show the next generation of young men and women that it can be done!
Some women feel confident enough to breastfeed in public right of the start – you may not be one of these moms so I will share with you some tips and tricks.
Proper clothing is key to breastfeeding discreetly in public. Many maternity and baby stores offer a wide variety of nursing bras, tank tops and shirts. If you are on a budget, just having an extra layer like a stretchy tank top underneath a shirt is just as effective. A flowy cardigan can double as a cozy blanket for your little one while staying covered as well.
You might be surprised to see some moms wear their babies while breastfeeding at the same time, well it is easy and convenient plus you have two hands free! Whether you are out shopping, at a family member’s house or going for a walk around the block, being hands free and discrete can be easy.
This can take some practice in finding the right carrier for your needs, many cities have local baby wearing groups and lending libraries for advice and support.
If you are still unsure about heading out in your new breastfeeding ensemble in public you can always have a cover-up handy! Nowadays these can be very stylish and can double as scarves, blankets and even car seat covers!
Practice latching your baby in front of the mirror in different tops and covers, you might be surprised what you can learn by viewing this from a different perspective. Latching is the time where you would ever expose yourself completely, a baby’s head does a great job of covering the nipple area!
Another great tip is to turn your body towards a wall or a friend or family member who is out with you to prevent full exposure. Remember, never feel bad for asking for help from a seasoned friend or even a breastfeeding support group.
Also, you can practice what you would say to someone if you were ever confronted. It may never happen but it’s better to be prepared and confident rather than stumbling or feeling shame for feeding your baby.
Know your Rights
Breastfeeding in public is legal and a very good thing. You are nourishing your baby with the most biologically appropriate food, and at the same time you are educating any young men and women who might happen to see you. The Ontario Human Rights Commission specifically states:
No one should prevent you from nursing your child simply because you are in a public area. They should not ask you to “cover up,” disturb you, or ask you to move to another area that is more “discreet.”
Find your Tribe
If you have any reservations about breastfeeding in public make sure that someone is with you that supports your decisions to breastfeed. Whether it is your partner, friend or family member have someone on your excursion there to help you out.
Joining a local mom group is also a great way to make new friends who understand our daily mom struggles, many of which can give you a boost in confidence to help you feel empowered!
Enjoy the moment, smile at your baby, don’t over think and act like you are doing something wrong. Breastfeeding can be a hard journey for some women, feeling ashamed, shunned or even bad for exposing a small amount of skin in public. Follow these tips and gain confidence!
And don’t forget to smile back when you see a mom breastfeeding at the mall or the park… she may need some encouragement