Breastfeeding In Public With Confidence
Breastfeeding in public can be both one of the most embarrassing and empowering experiences a breastfeeding mother has to face.I never had much confidence nursing in public with Kip but my confidence soon grew when I had the girls and going to a breastfeeding group was a major step in the right direction for me.Not everyone likes the idea of mothers breastfeeding in public, either through ignorance or embarrassment but it SHOULDN’T be like that.
As part of Breast Mates guest posting this post is about those two very subjects.
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Kate from Life, Love and Living With Boys who is involved Breastfeeding Friendly Chester a breastfeeding welcome scheme is guest posting for Breast Mates about nursing in public.
The Zoo Boat in the Rain, a Lift in a Train Station and Pub I used to get sloshed in!
THE best piece of advice I can give breastfeeding mums (after ALWAYS ask for help and DON’T stress) is to get out and about and feed your baby in public.
I understand there will always be some ladies who will never feel completely comfortable feeding their little one in front of strangers but you will find your breastfeeding experience more enjoyable and longer lasting if you can conquer the awkwardness of feeding away from home.
The first step is to find out where your nearest support group is and go along as soon as possible. This could even be whilst you’re still pregnant. You will find that most women attend simply to have a good chat and to meet other like-minded mums and you don’t need to have a specific breastfeeding related problem to find the groups helpful.
I first went to my local group in October 2009 when Spud was 5 weeks old and I wish I had been brave enough to attend sooner. Like most, I bought in to the myth that breastfeeding is painful at first but once your nipples toughen up, everything’s rosy. This is misleading in so many ways but as I am focusing on breastfeeding in public for this post, I won’t digress anymore than to say –
“BREASTFEEDING SHOULD NEVER BE PAINFUL AND IF YOU EXPERIENCE ANY PAIN PLEASE DRAG YOURSELF ALONG TO YOUR NEAREST SUPPORT GROUP IMMEDIATELY!!!”
Anyway, I finally made it to the support group with healing nipples in tow and I haven’t left! I still attend with Pooh Bear now and also as a member of the Bosom Buddies to give support to the health professionals who run the group and fellow mums.
Being able to see other mums feeding and to build up your confidence feeding in front of others in the safety of a support group is an invaluable experience. You will also make friends and invariably end up meeting up outside the group for cake, coffee and a play.
I remember my first proper trip out with Spud. He was two weeks old and we met my Granddad out for lunch at a local pub. I think we were the only people in the pub and I wasn’t nervous feeding in front of family since they were all very supportive. After raising six of his own children and countless grandchildren, Granddad wouldn’t bat an eyelid to see me feeding. I’ve only ever had lovely positive comments from the older generation and they seem to find it enchanting almost and come over all nostalgic. I think it takes them back to a time where they had a bigger spring in their step and their whole lives ahead of them.
When Spud was newborn, I used to latch him on in the loo (not the cubicle) then walk out with him, not quite under a blanket but with a blanket obscuring the view somewhat.
I didn’t employ this tactic with Pooh Bear but found it fiddly getting Spud latched on at first and felt more comfortable doing it away from the public glare. I never actually gave him a whole feed in the toilet and it worked for me as a first time breastfeeder. As public awareness and my confidence has increased since Spud was born, if I was having problems latching on now, I would ask if there was somewhere quieter I could go rather than slope off to the loo. I think it was less about negative comments since my family always had my back but I felt less stressed being able to latch him on where I wouldn’t be on full show.
Once we got the hang of it, there was no stopping us and I have pretty much fed both boys anywhere and everywhere. I used to take a bottle of expressed breast milk out for Spud but never ended up using it as I always found boobs much more convenient. They are always present, warm milk to the optimum temperature, always has a supply ready and waiting and you always have the right amount. I’d say there is no waste but I do remember one incident at a soft play centre where the sofa next to me got a spray of breast milk when Pooh Bear was fussing!!!
As with most things in life, practice makes perfect and you’ll soon get the hang of juggling a baby and nursing bra. A brilliant tip is to anticipate when baby is due a feed and not wait until they are too hungry to settle. This way you will be less stressed out worrying what everyone else is thinking as you try to latch a screaming baby. You might also like to find a quiet corner. The key is to feel relaxed so if that means wearing some sort of cover or sitting in a more discreet, dark corner then that is what you must do. It is great if mums are able to raise awareness by feeding confidently in public but it is ultimately about feeding your baby and you must employ whatever methods feel right for you.
In the UK at the moment there is an army of organisations and volunteers (like me) beavering away setting up Breastfeeding Welcome Schemes. These schemes ask local businesses like café, restaurants, play centres, local attractions etc to display the scheme logo and ensure their staff are aware of the 2010 Equality Act which protects breastfeeding mums from discrimination.
Some would argue that if the law is there to protect mums and babies then why do we need such schemes but our local NCT conducted a survey which showed 60% of breastfeeding mums were nervous about feeding their baby in public in case they received negative comments and were asked to leave or stop feeding. Most schemes have Facebook pages and even hold meet ups so is another great way to build up your confidence and meet other mums.
The most important thing to remember is not to worry. The general public is not anti-breastfeeding and most of the people who do find it distasteful would never actually voice these opinions to a mother (they save that for Twitter).
Please excuse the football pundit cliché but…
At the end of the day, you have a baby, your baby needs to eat, you are simply feeding your baby. It is not a big deal and you should not be made to feel embarrassed or ashamed of meeting your baby’s needs so get out there and enjoy it!