9 Best Tips for Breastfeeding in Public: Guide for Every Momma
As a mom of two, I can boldly say that breastfeeding is one of the most beautiful and fulfilling parts of a momma’s journey. You shouldn’t feel ashamed to do it—yes, even in public!
This is easier said than done, of course, especially if you’re a first-time mom who’s new to learning the ropes (and the discomforts) of nursing a little human.
In this guide, I’ll be giving you some tips on how you can confidently nurse in public. But before that, let’s first make it clear that this isn’t just about nursing a baby in an open or common space.
Breastfeeding in public also involves nursing sessions that are a little less out there, such as breastfeeding or breast pumping in locations, such as:
- at home while your relatives or friends are around
- at nursing areas in your workplace
- at nursing rooms in shopping malls, cafes, or your child’s daycare
Now that this is clarified, let’s move on to this big question that many mommas have: is breastfeeding in public legal?
Is breastfeeding in public legal?
Breastfeeding is legal in all 50 states of the USA. There are federal and state laws that protect mothers’ right to breastfeed their children. Additionally, international bodies like the World Health Organization are also very keen on promoting breastfeeding.
Aside from the USA, plenty of other nations also have policies that are pro-moms, pro-infants, and pro-breastfeeding. The challenge for you is to research the laws in your location, as well as the laws of the places where you plan to go with your baby.
Tips for breastfeeding in public
It’s normal to feel uncomfortable with public breastfeeding, especially if you’ve never done it before. So, to help you take your breastfeeding confidence to the next level, here are some momma tips for you.
1. Know your legal rights
As mentioned, many countries give legal entitlement and protection for women to nurse in public. You should research your country’s or state’s breastfeeding laws and make sure to get info from official government websites. You can also ask your trusted doctor about your right to breastfeed.
It’s difficult to be bold about breastfeeding without knowing the laws that promote and support it. So, mom to mom, I encourage you to read up on these and let your knowledge sweep away your hesitations to breastfeed.
2. Pack the necessary stuff
The mom-essentials you need to have are mainly those that keep you and your baby clean and comfortable.
Nipple cream? Check. Nursing pads? Check. Diapers and burp cloths? Big check. And don’t forget about the wet wipes!
For extra measure, you might also want to pack a thin (or thick, depending on the temperature) blanket that you can use as a breastfeeding cover-up or as a trusty warmth and security giver.
Just to be clear, you don’t need to pack the whole house. One beauty of breastfeeding is that it’s convenient—no mixing of formula; no need to wait for the milk to get to the right temperature.One beauty of breastfeeding is that it’s convenient—no mixing of formula; no need to wait for the milk to get to the right temperature.CLICK TO TWEET
And if you feel like your body needs a little help with lactating, then caffeine-free Boobie Latte is your perfect drink on the go.
Mom- and baby-safe coffee?
BIG YES! Plus, it’s guilt- and jitters-free!
3. Wear something comfy
Your comfort matters too, so wear something that could make you feel at ease with your body. Don’t feel pressured to buy nursing wear—just pull something from your closet that suits you comfortably and gives way for uncomplicated nursing.
For one, a button-down shirt can do the trick. You can unbutton it from below to cover your breast or unbutton it from the top if you may want to cover up your tummy. Other options are loose shirts, or stretchy tops and a cardigan.Wear something that makes you feel at ease with your body—a piece of clothing that suits you comfortably and gives way for uncomplicated nursing.CLICK TO TWEET
You could also try using the 2-shirt nursing method: just wear a tank top under a blouse or t-shirt. Then, when it’s breastfeeding time, simply pull up your top shirt and pull down your bottom shirt just below your breasts. Not a lot of skin will be exposed here, and your nursing baby will also help cover your breast.
4. Practice at home
I get it, okay? The discomfort, the worry that you’re showing too much skin, the concern about what people are thinking as your baby sucks your breasts in public.
But you wouldn’t want to let your baby go hungry, right? So, my advice is that you let your discomfort push you to practice.
A good start is to try nursing indoors while wearing your chosen outfit for breastfeeding outdoors. This will help you know your groove, so you can easily pull it off once you’re in public.
You could also try on different nursing outfits and see for yourself which ones look and feel right—and which ones make you look and feel great.
5. Try using a sling or wrap
Feeding on the go? Slings are your breast-friend.
Using slings or wraps lets you respond quickly to your baby’s feeding cues while giving your body enough coverage. Imagine: skin-to-skin contact that still gives you the privacy you need!
And hey, don’t be discouraged if you don’t know how to use slings or wraps yet. There are how-to guides out there for you, and I promise that practice will make progress! Once you get the hang of it, you’d be surprised that you can breastfeed even while walking and with one (or two!) hand free.
6. Find breastfeeding spots in advance
Nothing beats a prepared momma. Finding last-minute feeding-friendly spots can be stressful, so plan and research your destination.
Do they have baby-feeding rooms or lounges? Do they have changing rooms or seats where you can comfortably sit?
Most malls and department stores have dedicated spaces for breastfeeding. You can even ask fellow mommas in your community about their experiences breastfeeding in public within your area.
And if your state or country laws protect you when breastfeeding in public, remember that it’s your right to do it unbothered.
7. Be boobie confident
No matter the shape and size of your boobies, you should stand proud in doing your momma mission of nurturing your baby. Our bodies are designed to sustain and give life, and that should give you more than enough reason to feel empowered in your own body.
Of course, I don’t mean that you should just pop your boobies out to breastfeed anywhere. Like I said, most places have designated rooms or corners for breastfeeding. So do check on that as well.
8. Talk to your employer about nursing rooms
Did you know that the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) includes provisions for breastfeeding moms? If not, well, you’d be glad to know that it does!
Among other things, the FLSA requires employers to:
- allow a reasonable break time for an employee who’s a mother to express breast milk for her child
- provide a private and intrusion-free area (other than the bathroom) where the employee can express breast milk
If your workplace already has these in place, then that’s awesome! If not, then it might be best to communicate with your employer. You could also share some implementation guidance to give them a bit of help in complying with the law.
Having this federal law in place is a big help for working moms. Having your workplace set up what is legally mandated isn’t just beneficial for you. These things will help you focus on your job better, which will bring positive results for the company.
You should know, however, that not all states have a lot of equivalent policies. A report by the Pregnancy Accommodation Working Group of the Center for WorkLife Law tried to pinpoint the states with the most and least number of protective laws, and this is what the report showed:
Screenshot taken from the “Discrimination Against Breastfeeding Workers” Report by the Center for WorkLife Law
9. Prepare your response
Sad to say, but not everyone is duly educated about breastfeeding. Some people out there will tell reasons why they disapprove of breastfeeding in public, which could affect your confidence if you don’t prepare for them in advance.
This is why it’s really helpful that you’re aware of your legal rights and that you have your well-informed spiel ready.
It would also help if you get at least a few insights on the different attitudes surrounding breastfeeding in public—it’s a good start to learning how to properly respond to them without losing your cool.
For example, if someone from an establishment tells you to breastfeed in the washroom, politely respond: “Thank you, but no human deserves to eat in the washroom.”
Normalize breastfeeding in public!
It’s okay to feel uncomfortable, awkward, or even embarrassed about having to breastfeed in public. Your feelings are valid. But breastfeeding shouldn’t be a shameful act—instead, it should be something that every momma should be proud of doing.
A lot of moms say that seeing other moms breastfeed their babies in public gives them the confidence to follow suit. Isn’t that inspiring?
And who knows? With the tips mentioned in this guide, you might just become another momma’s source of inspiration for persevering in breastfeeding and providing your baby with the best nourishment possible.