Breastfeeding in public is in most countries, by law, perfectly acceptable to do, although many mothers find that they are still made to feel inadequate when nursing their babies. There are many countries, such as New Zealand, where breastfeeding in public is more acceptable than bottle feeding (more information can be found here). Just remember, the more that women do this, the more it will become just another perfectly normal everyday act.
In the UK you are protected and are allowed to breastfeed in public places. These include public transport such as buses, planes and trains. You are also allowed to breastfeed in sporting and leisure centres, public buildings such as libraries and also restaurants, shops and hotels. You should also be aware that you are permitted to breastfeed in theatres, hospitals, cinemas. Another place, which might seem a bit strange, are petrol stations although I would advise against doing this on the forecourt due to the fumes.
In the meantime, if you, as mother, want to nurse your baby in public and want to lessen the possibility of getting weird looks or snide comments, there are many things that you can do to prepare. Below are a few tips to help you get started.
Use your social network such as friends with babies, family and your health visitor if they know where there are breastfeeding acceptable places that you can visit. Many stores and cafes are nursing-friendly and also have changing facilities where you can breastfeed in private if you wish. When your baby gets hungry, it is important for you to feel comfortable so planning ahead will make it easier.
What to Wear?
There are many purposely designed items of clothing and bras that will suite this purpose. It is all a matter of personal taste. Some mums might wear a stretchy top that can be lifted up or pulled down on one side easily; other mums might like to wear a looser top. There are many nursing bras available on the market, but many mums prefer to use a non-underwired bra that can easily be pulled down when they need to feed their baby.
If you want to, you could always use a baby sling which will support your baby. Your baby could be next to your body under your top whilst feeding.
Strength in Numbers
If you are a bit uncomfortable, don’t be afraid to ask someone you trust to accompany you. Having another mum who is breastfeeding in public is a good way of supporting each other. It will be more relaxing for both you and your baby.
One thing I would advise against is feeding your baby in a toilet. This is very unhygienic and after all, you wouldn’t eat your meals in a toilet so why should your baby do it. You should always be allowed to feed where you are comfortable and you should know your rights too. Please refer to the top of this article where I included a link to a site which has all the necessary information regarding breastfeeding in public in your country.
Below is a short video from a couple of mums about their experiences with breastfeeding in public.
If you have any experiences, good or bad, please feel free to comment. I welcome any comments from a male perspective too