As well as containing all the vitamins and nutrients your baby needs in the first few months of life, breast milk is packed with disease-fighting substances that protect your baby from illness. This is the main reason why the World Health Organization as well as other similar bodies recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months (although any amount of breastfeeding is beneficial). In addition to all of this, breastfeeding has enormous benefits for the mother too – this is again supported by numerous scientific studies.
Now, besides this scientific evidence and countless awareness campaigns, certain barriers to breastfeeding still remain, and arguably the biggest of them all is breastfeeding in public. It is well known that a lot of women still feel shy about breastfeeding in public, or even when family and friends visit. But, with time and practice as well as some thoughtful preparation, you’ll develop your own technique and will become far more comfortable with feeding your baby in front of others. Here are some ideas to help you get started:
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1. Plan Ahead
Before you go out, try to think about where you will feel comfortable breastfeeding when your baby gets hungry. Ask breastfeeding friends for recommendations.
2. Clothes and Bra
What you wear when you’re breastfeeding is a matter of personal taste and what you feel comfortable in. For example, some mothers like to wear loose tops that can be lifted up. Others, who prefer to keep their tummy covered, wear two stretchy tops, so that the top layer can be lifted up and the bottom layer can be pulled down. A soft non-underwired bra can be easily pulled up or down when you want to feed your baby.
3. Take Someone With You
It can help to go with a friend who has an older baby and can take you to places that she already knows would be comfortable for you to sit and feed. You could go with someone else, such as your partner, sister or friend, so that there’s always someone to talk to.
4. Baby Slings, Scarves and Cloths
Some baby slings are designed in such a way that you can breastfeed while your baby is still in the sling. Ask your health visitor for more information. Some mums feel more comfortable laying a scarf or muslin cloth over their chest while they’re breastfeeding.
5. Avoid the Toilets
Don’t feel that you should sit in a public toilet to breastfeed. You wouldn’t eat in there, so don’t feel that your baby should.
6. Know Your Rights
You shouldn’t ever be made to feel uncomfortable about breastfeeding in public. In fact, in most parts of the world it is socially unacceptable or even illegal for anyone to ask a breastfeeding woman to leave a public place, such as a cafe, shop or public transport.
7. Always Remember
Breastfeeding your baby when she/he is hungry is your first priority. There’s no need to feel self-conscious about doing what’s best for him/her. In a few weeks, you won’t think twice about feeding your baby in public. After all, a baby that is breastfeeding quietly is far less likely to draw people’s attention than a hungry, crying baby.