Practical Tips for Breastfeeding in Public

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Breastfeeding is a wonderful journey. There’s many ups and downs, strides and setbacks. It really does require work and dedication. If you’re a breastfeeding mama, pat yourself on the back! Even when you’re out and about- shopping or dining out- when baby is hungry, you feed baby.

I’m a firm believer that a mother should never feel uncomfortable about feeding her baby- WHENEVER. WHEREVER! She should never feel forced to cover or move to a different place to feed her baby. However, some mothers would rather cover or move to feed her baby and that is her choice to make. Personally, I would always cover if I were feeding in public because often, my son would hear something that he wanted to look at and would pull off of my breast to look around. I would also choose to move to another room if there was one available because he would eat better if I were in a quiet environment.

Dressing for the occasion

You don’t have to buy specific clothes for breastfeeding unless you want to. I did buy a few items that made it easier for me and more easily accessible. Bras were the most important for me because I could just unsnap, unzip, or unhook with one hand. Nursing tanks came in second for the same reason. However, layering regular tank tops under any shirt can give you the same coverage. I liked to be able to lift my regular shirt up and pull the tank top down under one of my breasts so that was the only part of me exposed and my post-baby gut wasn’t hanging out, because it made me feel uncomfortable (and cold). I also wore button-down shirts often and eventually got some long-sleeve nursing tops. I loved them so much that I continued to wear them after I stopped nursing in public.

Pack it all in the diaper bag

I always kept my nursing items in the diaper bag, so I wasn’t caught without anything when the time came. Nipple shields, receiving blankets, my favorite nursing covers, and nursing pads all in the diaper bag. Additionally, I would bring a baby carrier in the car in case I needed it. Especially if he was awake while I needed to shop or do other things.

If you have to use nipple shields, having multiple of them is a good idea. I kept one by the bed for night time feedings and one in the diaper bag for daytime.

I’ve talked about the infinite uses of receiving blankets in my previous posts, and the main one is for breastfeeding. They always help with any milk leaks or spit-ups, but they can also be used as a nursing cover if you don’t have one. I got plenty of receiving blankets as baby shower gifts, so I stashed them everywhere.

Nursing covers were a must for me in public because of how much he would pull away and look around. My favorite ones go over your head so that you have both hands free. I also liked nursing scarves in the winter especially when I no longer had to have the nipple shields and my milk flow related to where there wasn’t as many leaks because a cover was all I had to have for breastfeeding in public.

Nursing pads went into my bra every single day. I had the heaviest milk flow at first and would leak constantly, especially, if my milk let down. Without nursing pads, wet spots developed on my shirt within seconds.

Baby carriers helped a lot when I had things to in public or around the house. My favorite ones were the ones that make it easy to breastfeed while the baby is in the carrier. They will save your arms in places where you have few places to sit down.

Breastfeeding in restaurants

Picking the place: It really depended on the mood of my baby when deciding where to eat. Eating at home was the most often choice but sometimes I just didn’t have the energy to cook. Or maybe we got invited by friends or family. I once made the mistake of taking him to Olive Garden to eat with my in-laws when he was about 3 months and we had a table that was directly in the middle of the restaurant. He was fussy that night and I ended up walking to the car with him in the middle of dinner because I felt like people were staring. It was okay though, my food still tasted just as good in a to-go container. My point is that, after that incident, we went to louder and more kid-friendly places so that if he did get fussy or loud, it wouldn’t be that big of a deal. I could feed him without being the center of attention or stand and bounce him, talk to him and be silly, whatever he wanted at that time. Places like Cici’s or Steak n’ Shake, anywhere with a lot of activity became more of our style if we did go out to eat, as well as opting for outside seating whenever possible. (We actually still do that last part.)

For whatever style of restaurant we went to, I always carried a receiving blanket and my favorite nursing cover.

I always put a receiving blanket on my lap to catch leaks and held him in my arm and since the nursing cover goes over my head, I had a hand free to eat my food. Mama’s got to eat too, ya know.

Breastfeeding in stores

I’ve found that in Walmart and Kroger, breastfeeding was very hard. Holding the baby while standing or using a baby carrier that’s breastfeeding accessible will be the best things to have on those trips. On the other hand, Target has breastfeeding rooms available. This made me shop there much more during the first year.

Breastfeeding at events

Graduations, birthday parties, or any other event that we went to, I would wear a breastfeeding dress or a skirt and shirt. Lifting all of my dress was not practical for me so for those times, I would consider the choice of clothing as a bigger deal than normal days. As usual, I would bring my diaper bag full of the breastfeeding necessities along for the ride.

Universal tips

If you know that you are going to a place and you would rather not breastfeed, bringing a bottle or bag of breastmilk with you and a thermos to heat the milk wherever you are, can be beneficial so that you do not have to worry about how to heat it. This can also help if you want someone else to be able to feed the baby and you still want to use breastmilk.

There’s so many places where you may end up breastfeeding. Bringing your necessities with you in the diaper bag will be all you need for most any occasion. Breastfeeding makes it easier for you to have milk ready and at the right temperature for your baby. Remember that it’s a natural thing that you should never feel ashamed or embarrassed of. You have laws to protect you. You are legally allowed to breastfeed anywhere in the United States except for in a moving vehicle where your baby should be secured in their car seat.

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