What’s The Big Deal About Breastfeeding in Public

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Breastfeeding in public can be challenging and intimidating, especially for a new mother. The challenge can be heightened when a mom and baby are in the early stages of developing an easy routine of nursing. Unless you pump before you go out, breastfeeding in public is often necessary and can (and should) be a positive and rewarding experience for both you and your child.
Some mothers, unfortunately, have been made to feel uncomfortable or judged for breastfeeding in public. While mothers should be encouraged and supported, no matter how or where they feed their children, some modern cultures have unfairly proposed that breastfeeding should be reserved for a private place. Some mothers feel more comfortable nursing their babies in a quiet, more private area, but the opportunity for nursing babies in public is something that society should openly accept.
While the controversy surrounding it is perhaps the most discussed aspect of nursing in public, there are other challenges associated with feeding your baby in public that you may not experience in the comfort of your home. From how you dress to where you sit at a restaurant, public breastfeeding can require a little extra effort and practice to become comfortable.
Perhaps you do not prefer to expose your breasts in public, and that is ok. The choice is yours when and how to feed your baby. Using nursing covers is a good way to feed your baby discreetly in public if you prefer a little privacy. Try choosing a nursing cover made of light, breathable material to allow appropriate airflow so that you and your baby stay nice and cool. Some nursing tops also serve as a cover and allow for extra privacy.
Choosing really good quality nursing bras is an important task to consider. Be sure your nursing bras and nursing clothes are comfortable and easily-accessible. While beautiful, lacy or frilly nursing bras may not be the most practical choices. You want a bra that fastens and unfastens quickly and easily as you may possibly be holding your baby while preparing to nurse. Nothing is crazier than trying to juggle a wiggly baby and all of baby’s gear while struggling to unhook a bothersome bra strap! Pick a nursing bra that feels good and that is easily unhooked with one hand.
Remember to “dress for the occasion” when you will be nursing in public. Avoid wearing tops or dresses with tight or high necklines. This prohibits easy access to your breasts and can be a burden to wear while nursing. Instead, wear a button-up top or stretchy t-shirt or tank, if appropriate. A V-neck or scoop-neck shirt is also a good choice.
A seating area can also play a significant role in your public breastfeeding experience. If you are able to choose your seating location in a restaurant or function where you will sit at a table, request a table with enough room for you to nurse your baby comfortably. A small table or tight booth may not allow enough room for you and your baby. If possible, ask for a large table or a booth at a table that can be scooted back a bit.
Although breastfeeding your baby in public can be scary or unnerving, it is healthy and beneficial to feed your baby whenever he is hungry. With preparation and practice, you will, over time, become more and more comfortable and happy about nursing your child when you are out and about. While it is sometimes a controversial subject matter, public breastfeeding is important to many mothers and vital to some whose children cannot or will not take a bottle. The only way to normalize breastfeeding in public is to breastfeed in public! All mothers should be supported and encouraged, regardless of whether or not they nurse their babies in open areas.

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