As you may very well know by now, I LOVE breastfeeding. I’ve been doing it for 7 months now and although the number of feeds has decreased as Raife grows, I love it more than ever before.
However, the one thing that I know scares many breastfeeding mums is breastfeeding in public. All of a sudden, you’re expected to whip out your boobs in public to pacify a screaming baby and I feel you – it’s hard to get used to.
I still remember my first time. I believe Raife was around 12 days old and as Jon was still on paternity leave, we headed to the Pizza Hut buffet. Served only on weekdays, this is Jon’s favourite activity when he’s off work – I am a lucky lady! We had been out a few times, but we’d timed these outings with when Raife was due to sleep so that I didn’t need to breastfeed in public.
As we sat in the restaurant and Raife was getting a bit restless, I knew what I needed to do. To say I was petrified is an understatement. I got the muslin out, subtly unhooked my bra, put Raife into position and lifted my top. I braced myself for stares and insults. Comments that what I was doing was disgusting and that I should not be exposing myself in public. I needn’t have worried at all. Nobody batted an eyelid. I don’t even think anybody noticed.
I did keep looking around, thinking that it was way too good to be true. Somebody was bound to come up to me. But no. Raife finished his milk, did his burps and fell back to sleep. I’d done it! I felt really proud of myself and actually found the whole thing liberating!
The next few times I breastfed in public, I was still quite nervous and would wait for someone to come up to me and have a go. Nobody did and to this day, nobody has. In fact, I’ve had nothing but compliments. Surprisingly, I’ve had a lot of older women coming up to me, encouraging breastfeeding and saying that I’m doing a good job. This has done amazing things for my confidence – so much so that I don’t think twice about breastfeeding in public now. It makes both me and Raife happy, it’s food on the go that needs no preparation and when he’s being grizzly, it soothes and settles him immediately meaning everyone enjoys peace and quiet.
If you’re a new mum and a bit nervous about breastfeeding in public, here’s a few tips I can pass on.
Invest in some breastfeeding friendly clothes
You don’t need to full on whip your boobies out in public when breastfeeding. You can do it subtly as long as you have the right clothes. Admittedly, it does take some thought and planning beforehand to pick a suitable outfit which can be tough, especially in the summer when you’re wearing dresses. You can buy special breastfeeding tops, but these can be a bit pricey. A shirt is easy to manoeuvre, especially with a strappy top underneath or a simple t-shirt is fine. With practice, you’ll get used to getting the muslin in place before pulling your top up or down so don’t worry!
Know your rights
My husband insisted on reading through our breastfeeding rights in public before setting out. This made me sad that this is what we had to resort to, but in hindsight, I’m really glad he did. It really gave me the confidence boost I needed to breastfeed in public. The law is on your side – it’s actually illegal for staff in a restaurant or venue to ask you to leave for breastfeeding in public. Did you also know that if a member of public comes up to you to express their disgust, you can ask the manager to remove that person from the establishment? Yep, nobody can discriminate against you for feeding your child, wherever that may be.
Get some large muslin cloths
There’s a whole selection of muslin cloths out there on the market but I’d advise you to buy the biggest ones you can. Quite simply, babies wriggle and if you’re like me and don’t want the world to see your breasts, then a larger muslin will cover more of your body. Raife is currently going through a phase where he doesn’t want to be covered with a muslin and will attempt to pull it off and expose me, which I don’t enjoy so finding larger muslins can help alleviate this. I found a few on Amazon that were bigger than the ones found on the high street if this helps!
Wear a smile
Whatever you do, breastfeed with a smile. You are doing something amazing, feeding your baby – the most natural thing in the world.