The baby is crying. You look around anxiously for somewhere to sit down and feed him. Shunning the bench at the bus stop (but don’t tell me you haven’t done it at least once!), you dash into the closest café, order some random drink you don’t really want, hike up your top, fiddle one-handed with your new nursing bra, and try desperately to remember everything they told you about correct positioning. Yay! Got it on the first try! you think to yourself. Except with all the commotion and anxiety your milk flow just stops dead, the baby is getting frustrated, and is now flailing around yelling and attracting quite a bit of attention.
To the crumpled used breastpad which has somehow unstuck itself from your bra and is now lying stuck to the floor.
To the not-so-little roll of extra skin on your post-baby tummy.
To parts of your body you normally keep artfully clothed until the third date.
Feeding a new baby while you’re out and about can be tricky at the best of times, and for women who breastfeed, it can be incredibly stressful. That’s not to say that bottle feeding is much easier, it just that most of us aren’t (yet) comfortable with exposing our breasts to random strangers without alcohol being involved.
I had chat with Clare Byam-Cook at the recent Baby Show and asked her what new mums can do to make breastfeeding in public a more positive and private experience, and to feel confident feeding the baby (with breast or bottle) anywhere, and here’s what she had to say:
Clare Byam-Cook’s Top 5 Tips on Successfully Feeding the Baby in Public
1. If you’re breastfeeding, practice in front of the mirror at home first. You’ll quickly see how various positions, a muslin draped over the shoulder, or even just a different style of top can make all the difference. Work out an arrangement that allows you to breastfeed discreetly and comfortably, even while sitting on a hard-backed chair like you might find in a restaurant, and practice until you’re confident.
2. Choose a calm place without too many distractions or sudden noises that may distract the baby from his or her feed.
3. Find a comfortable seat in the corner, out of the way, and where your belongings will be secure while your attention is elsewhere. Make sure the baby will be as comfortable as possible as well.
4. Have a contingency plan. If you’re breastfeeding, bring a bottle just in case it goes disastrously wrong. If you’re bottle-feeding, bring a spare bottle.
5. Time your outings so that you can feed that baby at home or where you and the baby will feel most comfortable. This is easier if you have a routine in place, but even if you don’t, you can feed the baby at home and then go out immediately afterwards.
There you have it. If you’ve got any other tips to pass on to new mums, please post them below! Oh yes, and please do have a read about my experience of breastfeeding in public, our list of breastfeeding-friendly places, and remember to add your favourites to our site.
Clare Byam-Cook has over 20 years of experience as a breastfeeding specialist, and is the author of “What to expect when you’re breastfeeding… and what if you can’t”.