Breastfeeding in Public for the first time. What to expect and how to get over your fears.
Breastfeeding is hard… like REALLY hard. It’s one of those things that you don’t put much thought into, until you actually have to do it. No one really talks about it. You have the baby and you breastfeed… the rest is history, right? The answer is no.
From the sore nipples, to the ‘am I doing it right’ moments, to the constant feedings (will I ever get a break?), to worrying if your little one is getting enough. It’s a tough job and it doesn’t always come easy to mothers.
And then all the sudden you’re faced with breastfeeding somewhere other than the comfort of your own home. It’s time to breastfeed in public for the first time. Something you never really put much thought into, until you actually had to. But no worries, today I’m talking all about breastfeeding in public for the first time. What to expect and how to get over your fears.
(PS I’m giving you some FREE downloadable ‘Thank You For Breastfeeding In Public” cards. You can snatch them HERE)
Let’s talk about this specific moment. Whether breastfeeding in public for the first time happens on accident, or it is something you’ve been anticipating...
Let me start by sharing MY personal story.
My husband and I decided to get out of the house with the new babe for the first time. We went to dinner at Cheesecake Factory. I remember walking in and waiting to be seated by the hostess. Allie started crying (about 4 weeks old). I instantly started to panic, my palms got super sweaty and I started to get antsy… it was time to eat, she was hungry.
I’ll never forget this moment as a mother. I turned over to Pete (my husband) and said “can I feed her here?”. I didn’t know if it was a thing. Can I feed her in a restaurant… in public for everyone to see?
I didn’t have any friends that were breastfeeding and honestly had no clue about feeding in public. After all the preparation and classes we took at the hospital on breastfeeding, never once did they discuss feeding in public.
The hostess sat us down in our booth and for a split second I considered going to the bathroom to feed her. And then realized, where would I sit? I’m starving, when would I eat? So I reached in my diaper bag and pulled out a nursing cover I got at my baby shower a few months back.
I draped it over the both of us and started feeding her. I looked around and no one seemed to care at all, even though I felt like everyone was staring at me. In reality, no one even blinked an eye. Except Allie, she hated the cover and kept trying to pull it down. She wanted to see mom (but that dreaded cover is a whole other story).
That was a moment that I’ll never forget. That sense of panic and not knowing what to do. Simply because I wasn’t educated in the subject. No one ever talked to me about it.
So here goes. Today I’m passing down the torch and talking to YOU about this moment so that hopefully, you never have to feel how I felt that day.
Below are a few tips for breastfeeding in public for the first time:
It’s your legal right.
It is your legal right to breastfeed your baby in all 50 states with or without a cover. Just knowing this little piece of information can make a world of difference. Sometimes it’s scary just not knowing if you actually are allowed to breastfeed in public. Well here’s your answer. Yes you are!
Yes women do it.
I was the youngest of 3 kids so I never really grew up around breastfeeding. And my friends either weren’t having kids yet, or weren't breastfeeding. So I wasn’t ever around it. I never really saw other women feeding in public.
My sister in law was breastfeeding my nieces, but I always remember her going into a private room at events or around friends and family. So I always just thought it was “good etiquette” to remove yourself and go somewhere else to feed.
But once I started to pay attention, I realized there were TONS of mothers feeding in public. I just never noticed them until I started to started to take notice.
Start practicing at home.
I know, sounds kind of strange right? How do you practice feeding in public at home? Well, next time you have friends coming over to visit, or family coming over for dinner, instead of going to your room or the baby’s room to feed, feed right there in front of them. You’re in the comfort of your own home and will be around people you feel a little more comfortable with. Rather than complete strangers.
It’s a good way to ease you into it.
Use a nursing cover… at first.
As the owner of The Little Milk Bar, I’m all about #dropthecover… but I also feel that every mother should feed their baby however they feel most comfortable. If a nursing cover makes you feel more comfortable and your baby doesn’t seem to mind it, then use one.
Covers can be great training wheels for mothers who don’t quite feel comfortable feeding in public yet. I’ve found that most mothers who do use a cover to help them ease into public feeding, eventually gain enough confidence to #dropthecover somewhere down the road after a few feedings.
Find a place to sit and relax.
Find a nice quiet spot to feed. If you’re in a crowded room, find a chair off in the corner where you can be more comfortable and focus on your baby.
Talk to your partner
I cannot stress this one enough. There’s nothing like feeling like you’re alone when feeding in public for the first time. You already feel like the odd man out, the girl who didn’t get asked to eat with the other girls at the lunch table, the one who still has toothpaste on her chin from this morning and has no idea.
So making sure that your partner is there and by your side the entire time is a MUST. It can relieve a lot of unnecessary stress. Let your partner know how worried you are about feeding in a public place and how much it means to you to have their support.
Knowing they’re right there next to you in case someone DOES have the audacity to come say something to you, they’ll stand up and have your back, so you don’t have to.
This one is KEY. You might be thinking… how in the world do I empower myself? I don’t feel empowered to feed in public Lindsay, that’s why I’m reading this post.
You know the saying ‘fake it ‘till you make it?’... this totally applies.
Wear things, bring things with you, look at photos on your phone that make you feel like Superwoman. That give you all the confidence in the world to feed your baby whenever and wherever you need to. Wear that Milk Maker tee, pull out that Boobs Baby Blanket, wear that Mind Your Own Tits button, etc. Whatever it is that makes you feel powerful, use it.
Even if it’s just following a few Instagram accounts that show you the beauty of breastfeeding and scroll through that while feeding your babe. Trust me, it makes a WORLD of difference.
Praise other breastfeeding moms.
There’s nothing like building your own confidence like being able to build up others. Any time you see a mother breastfeeding in public, tell her thank you… give her a wink… give up your seat and tell her she’s doing an amazing job. Because chances are, she’s just as scared as you are and probably needs to hear it.
Even better, you can download THESE cards, print them off, keep them in your bag and every time you see another breastfeeding mom while you’re out and about, give her one. I promise you, you’ll make her day. While at the same time, building your confidence to do it to.
They say the more you see of something, the more normal it becomes. So to all you mothers out there… thank you for breastfeeding in public. #normalizebreastfeeding.
I’d love to hear your stories. What was it that helped you feed in public for the first time? Comment below.
P.S. We added a little promo code (see below) to all you Oat Mama readers. For anyone who’s ready to proudly wear Milk Maker across the tatas, just use the code OATMAMA at thelittlemilkbar.com ;)
-Lindsay | Owner of The Little Milk Bar | www.thelittlemilkbar.com