Breastfeeding selfies, viral hashtags from celebrities and influentials all over the world, brave breastfeeding photoshoots in all sorts of public spaces…Mums all over the world are finding new ways to normalise breastfeeding in public. And they should! I’m one of them; for me, breastfeeding hasn’t quite been the smoothest ride when I became a new mum to my first born, yet after breastfeeding my son for 2 years and 4 months, here I am, sharing 5 tips after all the lessons I’ve learnt – sometimes the hard way.
My husband is a lawyer, therefore it may not be quite random that I know how in England and Wales, our right to breastfeed in public is covered by The Equality Act 2010, which states: ‘a business cannot discriminate against mothers who are breastfeeding a child of any age.’ (Tip! Find out what the law says in your country. See the fact box further down as well. Editor’s note.) * With this in mind, don’t ever stress over whether you’re ‘allowed’ to breastfeed your child of 2 months or 2 years in a museum or cafe – or even during high tea at the Ritz, enjoying a warm scone while feeding your baby as nature intended.
If you decide to go out and about, then it’s pretty essential to have the right clothing and best accessories in order to make breastfeeding easy as pie.
a. New bra
A nursing bramakes the process more discreet and it should be, in my opinion, the first buy tick on a new mum’s shopping list.
b. Breastfeeding fashion
Having tops designed especially for breastfeedingis ideal, but not mandatory, as you can wear any baggy tops to give you the extra space for handling the process. Make sure that you don’t go for delicate fabrics or plain colours, as baby vomit and milk spillage are real things that every mum will, at one point, experience on their shoulder. Opt instead for bold patterns and prints, and don’t feel that your wardrobe should be limited simply because now there’s a tiny human who needs inside access more often ;)
c. Breastfeeding covers
However, if you’re still a bit shy about breastfeeding your baby in public spaces, you can use a breastfeeding cover, there are so many cool prints you can go for. But don’t feel you really need to invest in one, you can easily go for a large muslin square or even an old scarf, and they would do the same job just as nicely.
This part is very important. A well-packed changing bag can save you from a lot of stress when breastfeeding in public. Make sure you have the gear that suits you and maybe a spare too; for example when it comes to breast pads, pack a few extra, especially during those early days of breastfeeding. Always have a couple of muslin squares ready, they would come in handy in case you forget your breastfeeding cover or the baby decides to spill some milk on your favourite top. Hair bands or elastics are always useful during breastfeeding if you have long hair. My baby loves pulling my hair during feeds.
If you’re still worried that people are staring (even when they’re not) and stressing over the feeding process itself, there are so many breastfeeding support groups where you could ask for advice, guidance and even make friends. It never hurts to have a breastfeeding mama friend to drink coffee with!
Whatever you do, DO NOT hide in loos like I did four years ago in those first few weeks after my son was born. I was a new and inexperienced mum in a city of all faiths, I didn’t want to take any risks and offend someone. That was the mindset which made me fearful and hide in public bathrooms to feed my newborn. Just ask yourself, would you accept having your lunch in a restaurant toilet? Then why would you do this to your child? If anyone gives you a mean comment or tells you to breastfeed somewhere else, just ask them nicely to look away.
Written by Aly, founder of AllMumsTalk; London mum of two. By Charlotte L.For Baby Bjorn's firstname.lastname@example.org