When you make plans to finally get out and away from the house, nursing your baby in public should be the very last thing you should worry about next to – “Did I bring enough diapers? Did I pack enough changes of clothes? or – How do setup the stroller without getting into a fight with it in the parking lot?!!!”
It took me sometime to learn that my baby would not allow ANY form of blanket, burp cloth, or receiving blanket on or around his head/face. So as you can imagine I was actually forced into this whole “uncovered” breastfeeding in public thing, by my own baby!
Today I am sharing how to help normalize breastfeeding, every time you leave the house with your nursling, by simply breastfeeding uncovered in public in 5 easy steps! Some acceptable places to breastfeed, which differ by state, are in your car, at a park, at the grocery store in the Milk aisle, at the library in the children’s section, on the beach in the shade, during a family hike on a trail, under a tree when you go camping, on a farm next to a cow, when you go for a walk with your baby wrap or stroller and stop to stretch, pretty much anywhere and everywhere and anytime as long as the law protects you. Be sure to check out your state breastfeeding laws on BreastfeedingLaw.com.
1. Get Pumped!
A great way to bring your nursling to the breast is BEFORE they actually start showing signs of hunger! This way, your baby is (usually) quiet, and calm and maybe even still asleep. If you are nursing a toddler the same rules apply, but some times they may want to snuggle or play a bit before getting down to business. When you offer your breast, you are sharing your emotions as well, so often times your child will feel your tension if you are feeling nervous or scared about breastfeeding without a cover in public, and by all means if you prefer to use a cover, do so! The most important thing is that you don’t wait until your baby is screaming their head off because they may not respond very well to the breast when they are feeling anxious. Going forward, however, these are suggestions for moms looking to ditch the cover all together. 😉
Confidence is key! You decided to breastfeed you baby for a number of reasons that are natural, normal, and nutritious for your baby. Remind yourself of these things when you take your baby out and tell your baby about it! Although the conversation is one-way, there is nothing wrong with expressing yourself verbally to your baby in a calm and loving manner. Tell you child about how you know you are providing nutritious and delicious milk made specifically for them!
A little high-five, or fist pound (dap) is perfectly normal when your child gets a little older and begins to see the benefits of how your choice to nurture them make them feel.
2. Bring an Entourage
I sure hope you aren’t planning to go out all alone! If you aren’t past the 12 week mark, I suggest that you are accompanied by a family member or friend or support group to better help you to ease your way into public breastfeeding. It’s really important that we have the support of people who actually support breastfeeding in all aspects, even if they have never breastfed or have ever been exposed to it, there are many ways that they can show their support for you. They can hold the diaper bag while you soothe your baby, hold the baby or watch the stroller while you use the restroom, and even help you load shopping bags into your car while you are securing the baby’s car seat. Plus, it’s great to talk with other moms about breastfeeding while we are actually doing it! How many people do you know who would support you in this way? If you don’t know anyone, it’s definitely time to get involved in a local/online breastfeeding support group!
(just in case you’re wondering, Yes! We did adjust the the wrap for the mama in the middle of this picture)
3. Let your Baby or Toddler take the Lead
Since you child will not always come to the breast for nourishment (food/drink) it’s incredibly important to watch and listen to your child’s feeding cues. While they are newborns this is what they will usually be wanting. As they grow up, they may become more and more distracted with life and less interested in nursing for long periods of time. Some feeding cues are baby doing the breast crawl toward your right or left side, sucking on their fist, sticking out tounge while asleep, and bobbing head on your shoulder. If your child is completely uninterested in breastfeeding then there is a reason why and they really aren’t very hungry. Feel free to wear your baby to continue to stimulate milk production until they begin to show these signs again and be sure to address it immediately.
4. Show some skin
Yea, I said it! You are a mom who has breasts for the very purpose to feed her child. If you don’t share that skin with your child just know for sure that plenty of companies will share their view of the way skin should be portrayed to your child through advertisements, media, and especially in public at the mall! That’s exactly why this is specifically about normalizing uncovered breastfeeding. Jack Newman said, “…the more people see babies at the breast the more normal it will become.” If skin to skin stimulates milk production, then it is acceptable to to wear a low cut shirt that provides better access to the breast and also to give your child a soft warm place to lay their head.
5. Whip ’em out!
That’s right! Look around, no one is even watching you! Take out your breast while holding your child directly in front of your nipple and latch your baby on. Having problems latching your baby home? Follow this simple step. Once you stop moving, park the car, stop the stroller, go to the restroom; take a moment to pause and watch your baby. You will begin to see patterns that tell you your baby will be waking up soon. Instead of procrastinating, offer the breast right away. If your baby is calm, like I said before, there is a much better chance of them latch well if you catch and satisfy them during the earliest stage of hunger/thirst.
And just in case you need a little more encouragement check out this video:
I am not a doctor or even a lactation consultant, I’m just a mother offering you my thoughts.
If you think you or your baby are experiencing an emergency, or someone is hurt call 911 and consult your physician.