Most women today, especially young mothers, are quite uneasy at the thought of nursing their babies in public, because they don’t want to expose their breasts and can’t find clothes that are well-designed for breastfeeding.
Have you ever felt uneasy at the idea of breastfeeding in public?
Together, let’s rewrite this story.
Too many women deal with apprehension and anxieties related to the opinions of others (and assumed perceptions of the opinion of others) when it comes to breastfeeding in public.
Fortunately, there are also many mamas already perfectly comfortable breastfeeding in public, and we would love to witness more of that. It’s not only amazing for you and your baby, but that could also help set a normalizing trend for those women and girls who are not yet moms.
If you’ve been hesitant about breastfeeding in public (and you have a desire to do so), I hope these simple tips will help you find the confidence you need.
- Know your rights and feel good about exercising them. Breastfeeding in public is legal in Hong Kong. Breastfeeding is part of the fundamental human rights for both the mother and the baby. You are nourishing your baby with the best source of nutrients and—as a great side-benefit—you are helping normalize breastfeeding in public for any young men and women who might happen to see you.
- Pick a familiar place to practice nursing in public. Nursing rooms in a shop or a mall, mom-and-baby yoga classes are great places to start if you feel like you need to first implement a routine that will help you feel more confident nursing in public.
- Smile! Smile and go about your business. You are doing something very important for your child, and that’s an amazing thing. Don’t assume they are glancing in disapproval as you breastfeed your baby and even if they are frowning or looking embarrassed, smile at them! Remind yourself that it’s their problem, not yours. If you show confidence with a friendly smile, you just might help them change their mind.
- Turn away to latch.The time that might be the most sensitive is when the baby is first latching on as it is when the most skin is likely to be shown. If that makes you feel uncomfortable, you can try turning if you are in a restaurant for instance, so that you are facing a wall before you latch your baby on. You can do the same when unlatching your baby.
- You might consider a cover-up.If you really feel uncomfortable breastfeeding in public, you may want to try covering your baby and breasts with a cover-up. Whether or not you use a nursing cover is a personal choice. Not all babies like them – they might pull it off or fuss. If you do decide to use one, make sure it’s well-ventilated, your baby doesn’t get overheated and has room for easy feeding and breathing. You may still need to do the “turn away to latch” routine if your baby is still very young because you may need to see what you’re doing to latch your baby on. Many breastfeeding advocates are not fans of these cover-ups for the message it can convey. However, for some women, a cover-up can make all the difference in their breastfeeding journey. You feeling comfortable is what matters the most.
- Carriers can be tremendously helpful. By nursing in your baby carrier, you won’t need to stay in a room and can just walk around. You will feel like you are well covered and don’t need to bring anything extra. Pro Tip: Loosen the carrier so that your baby’s head is at the same height as your breast, upright, and then open up your shirt to let baby latch on. Here is a great selection of summer carriers
- Dress for nursing success. Trying to discreetly get your top undone while holding a starving, restless, probably screaming baby is not easy. Especially when you are in a public space. Give your baby easier access to his or her meal with nursing tops or shirts. There are specially-made stylish nursing clothes that have hidden lateral openings to make breastfeeding or pumping easier. Here is a selection of stylish and hassle-free organic nursing tops
- Have a sense of humor about accidental flashing and trust that you’ll feel more confident over time.
Written by Joséphine Tran, Founder of Milki Train, a new organic breastfeeding and baby clothing brand on a mission to empower nursing moms through sustainable and stylish fashion.