Nursing in public can be daunting for a mother. Motherhood is a wildly emotional rollercoaster to begin with and now we are faced with the decision to do something that might make us a bit (or a lot!) uncomfortable. Even if you planned to breastfeed since you hovered over that pee stick in your bathroom you might not have thought about doing it in public. If you need a boost of confidence then follow these steps!
- Be realistic– Oftentimes nursing in public is nerve-wracking because we hear about other mothers who are being harassed. The reality is that this is very rare. It happens and it’s important to speak up, but it is unlikely to happen to you. The thing that is most likely to happen to you is a feeling of empowerment like you have never felt before and it will spread to other people who see you, including other moms.
- Babywear– Breastfeeding while babywearing provides many conveniences to a mother. When we are out and about it can be difficult to find a place to sit down and get comfortable. Babywearing provides mobility and gives you control over the situation. Breastfeeding while babywearing also provides some discretion if nursing in public makes you a bit queasy. If you find this difficult you are not alone. Keep practicing and remember; loosen, lower and latch.
- Know your rights– Breastfeeding in public is legal everywhere in this country, but each state has different laws about your level of protection from harassment. But don’t let these laws fool you; you are allowed. Breastfeeding wherever you are is a basic human right of you and your child. Get to know your state laws here and consider carrying them with you (print them out or take a screenshot.) If someone gives you a problem (which they probably won’t) kindly tell them you are within your rights as a human and to move along.
- Focus on your baby– When we are doing something that makes us a bit nervous we tend to read into things. We might think that people are staring when maybe they really aren’t. Or maybe they think you are pretty or that baby is really cute. Or maybe they think you are rockin’ it from head to toe with your badass nursing in public skills. Focus your attention and energy on your new relationship (the only one that matters). People might be looking at you, but it’s only because you are a magnificent breastfeeding mother who caught their eye.
- Bring a friend– Most of our tensions about nursing in public can be erased when we have a sympathetic friend with us. It doesn’t matter who it is, it can be your mom, sister, cousin, neighbor, who cares. A friendly face, someone to talk to and sit by will be a great comfort. The most empowering thing in my early breastfeeding journey was meeting like-minded moms. Breastfeeding with another breastfeeding mom or group of moms is life changing. Be sure to join this group to find if there is a Mam Tribe in your area. If not, please consider starting one so that you can get connected.
You really are starting to get the hang of this now, aren’t you? Shoulders straight, chin up and march!