Breasts are celebrated on red carpets, screens, billboards, magazines, and even on beaches — but ironically, something as natural as breastfeeding can become a tough sell when trying to do it in a public place.
While public nursing is becoming a more acceptable concept, not every mom is comfortable with the idea of unbuttoning her blouse in a crowded place to feed her hungry baby. It can be awkward, especially for new, inexperienced moms.
But always staying at home with your little one isn’t an option either. It may take a while to get used to nursing your baby in front of strangers, but with the right tips, it becomes easier. Fortunately, there are ways you can confidently nurse your baby without any hesitation.
So, stop feeling uneasy about something as natural as breastfeeding and read on.
Is it legal to nurse in public?
In the United States, breastfeeding is legal and protected by federal law. In most states, women have the right to breastfeed their little ones in public. But even in states that do not state such rights in the books clearly, women still have the right to feed their babies whenever and wherever they want.
Exposing your breast to nurse a baby is neither a criminal offense nor an indecent exposure. Do not believe if you are told otherwise. Some states may even have additional laws for protecting nursing moms.
Tips for breastfeeding in public places
The postpartum period can be very stressful for new moms. Managing the responsibilities of a baby who is entirely dependent on you and accepting the sudden hormonal changes after motherhood can be daunting. This is when they can even become susceptible to severe levels of postpartum depression.
Dementia statistics highlight stress and depression as the leading factors behind the condition. It could worsen their mental state if moms are forced to stay home because they have to breastfeed their little ones.
Thus, giving them the freedom to go out and unwind to take their mind off stressors is essential. This also gives them more confidence when they have to breastfeed in public. Here are the top tips that could make this even easier.
1. Practice makes perfect
Confidence can be the biggest struggle when nursing in public. Practicing in the comfort of your own home can make it easier for you. If you don’t know how to go about it without flashing too much skin, you can try out new breastfeeding positions and stick to the ones you and your baby are most comfortable with.
Try practicing it in front of guests so you can also make that system work in a public place.
2. Do it in front of a mirror
Do it in front of a mirror and adjust to a comfortable level of exposure while you are doing the breastfeeding deed. This will give you a good idea of the angles that suit you best.
3. Dress for nursing
Dressing appropriately for nursing in public will promise you better privacy and provide more comfortable access to your baby. The best idea is to wear a two-piece outfit, where you do not unnecessarily have to show more skin. A button-down shirt is ideal in such situations or shirts that can be pulled to the side or lifted up easily.
4. Use a cover
To avoid a nip-slip or any similar mishap, you can try a nursing cover too. Use a small blanket, a poncho, or shawl to cover your shoulders all the way to your baby’s head. You can now even find covers specifically designed for breastfeeding in public. It has the proper support and covers completely to make the practice easier for moms.
Whatever you plan to use, ensure it does not suffocate the baby and is well-ventilated.
5. Get a nursing-friendly carrier
This carrier is packed on the front, so your baby faces you. It’s a great and discreet way to breastfeed in public. People think your baby is sleeping while they are enjoying their meal. However, it is important to use this carrier only when your baby is old enough to keep their head up without your support.
6. Put on layers
Having multiple layers will also protect you from showing too much skin. Use a stretchable tank top that you can quickly pull down to cover your belly. The T-shirt on top can cover the top of your breast.
Button-down shirts and cardigans are also a great layering choice to keep you comfortable and covered while nursing in public.
7. Look for the right place
Finding a peaceful corner where you feed your little one can also make things much easier for you. Look for a comfortable bench or a grassy spot under a tree to nurse.
Your comfort is critical, so ensure you are in the correct posture. This will also help the baby with easy access and will make most people think you are just relaxing with your little one.
8. Learn how to deal with negative comments
While such incidences happen rarely, it’s best to be prepared. Most people tend to mind their own business, but some people are always prepared to deliver a sermon on public decency.
First, know there’s nothing wrong with breastfeeding your baby in a public place. If someone points it out, make sure you are ready with a polite yet straightforward answer. Just tell them you are feeding your hungry baby and you know it’s your right.
Straightforward statements like these will get your point across.
Confidence is the key. In the United States, feed your baby regardless of where you are because laws protect a mother’s right to nurse her baby despite the location.