When I was starting out on my breastfeeding journey, a key concern of mine was how I was going to breastfeed in public and build my confidence in feeding out and about. During the course of establishing Murrelli, I’ve spoken to many more women who shared this concern. While there is no question that breastfeeding is normal and that doing so in public should not be a source of concern, it is understandably something that each mum will wish to do in their own way and build confidence and experience in.
So, if you’re feeling a little nervous yourself, I’ve pulled together some quick tips and tricks to help you feel confident while breastfeeding in public. Remember, as with most things, it does get easier the more you do it!
1 – Bring your breast-pal
Why not bring your partner, a friend or fellow parent with you for the first few occasions (or all of them if you want!) who can offer some reassurance, help you find a comfortable spot and lend an extra pair of hands passing muslins and/or cups of tea. As with everything in life, the more you do something the easier it gets. If that’s not an excuse to treat yourself to a cuppa and cake regularly, I don’t know what is!
2 – Dress for confidence!
Heading out the door in clothes that you know will allow you to feed in the way you want (i.e. give you enough room to get latched comfortably, allow for discrete feeding if that’s important to you) will set you up with the confidence that you can stop and feed comfortably and easily whenever you need to.
(One of the reasons why I designed Murrelli access points in the way I did was to provide women with as much control as possible over their breastfeeding/pumping experience. Regardless of what you choose to wear, find something that works for you!)
You may also wish to give a nursing cover a go if you want extra space to get baby latched without feeling exposed. Nursing covers typically hang around your neck with a structured opening allowing you to see down to baby easily but keep well covered to everyone else. There are lots of lovely small businesses that make these in a variety of fabrics and colours!
3 – Pack strategically
If you have a couple of breastfeeding essentials you need for each feed (e.g. nipple shields, breast pads, muslins) pack the change bag ahead of time with those in easily accessible spots. This will allow you to fish them out one-handed when you need them!
I always found it helpful to also have a nappy bag or two stored nearby so that I could store any damp muslins, bibs or used breast pads back in the change bag without them getting other bits in the bag wet or dirty.
4 – Location, location, location
You may feel at ease knowing that you have a favourite cafe or shopping centre bench to head to if baby needs a feed. However, if you would feel more comfortable knowing that you also have the option to head to somewhere a bit quieter and a bit more private to feed or pump, keep in mind that most shopping centres, high street pharmacies and department stores have dedicated nursing rooms with comfy chairs and changing facilities. Always nice to know you have options!
In the early days of my breastfeeding journey, I would often plan my trips into town around my favourite breastfeeding rooms and could give you a detailed review of each!
5 – Whenever / Wherever
Finally, keep in mind that you are entitled to breastfeeding in public anywhere in the UK. Any unfavourable treatment of a breastfeeding woman is classed as discrimination under The Equality Act of 2010. As a result, businesses and service providers dealing with the public cannot ask you to stop breastfeeding or ask you to leave.
If you are in Scotland and looking for a little more reassurance that you’ll feel comfortable sitting feeding, you can look out for ‘Breastfeeding Friendly Scotland’ stickers in windows. These stickers signify that the business has signed up to be part of the national scheme and therefore understands the law and supports breastfeeding on its premises.
Have you developed your own strategies to help you feel confident to feed in public? What have I missed? Let me know, I’d love to hear your tips and tricks!