Moms breastfeeding in public is considered to be a taboo by some. Mothers exposing their breasts is considered a shameful thing by others. Some mothers feel embarrassed to expose their breasts in a public place. When I used to breastfeed my children, I realised that there are so many places which do not have a lactation room or a nursing area !
Even though medical professionals encourage breastfeeding our society doesn’t accept mothers breastfeeding in the public fully. Does that mean that the society thinks that breastfeeding mothers should stay at home the whole time the baby is breastfeeding ? Many a times mothers breastfeeding in public have been asked to cover up!
A bottle-fed baby can drink their milk in the public but a breastfed baby cannot. The way around this is cover yourself with a blanket, so your breasts aren’t exposed. I have breastfed my kids in the car and used the muslin to cover myself. My husband also stood in front of the car to prevent people from peeping inside!
But that didn’t deter people from looking – and it wasn’t a glance. They knew I was nursing my baby- all the more reason to look- women included -which I think was quite disgusting ! Breastfeeding is a very natural thing yet people keep staring at the mother and the baby and make them feel uncomfortable!
UK Laws on Breastfeeding in public
Breastfeeding in public is supported by the government in the UK. Have a look at a snapshot taken from the website https://www.theukrules.co.uk
Some women find it embarrassing to breastfeed in public
Some women find it embarrassing to breastfeed in public. It could be because they are not sure if, by law they are allowed to breastfeed in public or they feel that people will look if they breastfeed in public. I have noticed that though people feel that breastfeeding is a natural thing and that a baby should be breastfed, they feel uncomfortable if a woman is breastfeeding in a public place!
According to the website, www.gov.uk, more than third of the women shy away from breastfeeding in public and 1 in 5 feels that other people do not want them to breastfeed in public.
Some women might think that breastfeeding is a private thing
Some women, might feel that breastfeeding should only be done in private as it is a bonding time between mum and the baby or they might feel embarrassed to breastfeed their baby in the presence of their male relatives for example fathers or father-in-law or brother in laws.
Breastfeeding for working Women
Employers do not have to provide time off for breastfeeding. So some employers might feels that a woman is wasting Company time breastfeeding ! Unless the women express the milk earlier and store it in a fridge- and then the baby is bottle-fed by the nanny or whoever is looking after the baby.
Therefore, working women might feel discouraged to breastfeed if their employer doesn’t provide them with flexible hours.
There are special covers available for breastfeeding and nursing tops
There are special breastfeeding covers available for breastfeeding with a nice floral print with which you can cover yourself. Have a look at these covers here. But some people would still figure out that you are breastfeeding. Also, there are nursing tops available which might make it easier for you to breastfeed in private or public. You won’t have to remove your top and bra every time you breastfeed you baby. In case, you use a breastfeeding cover,make sure you take it with you every time you go out with your baby.
“Do not stop breastfeeding just so you can go out more often. Breastfeeding in public is your right as a mother”
If you haven’t breastfed before
If you are expecting your first child or have never breastfed before, there are drop-in breastfeeding clinics available (in the UK) , this will give you a good practice to breastfeed outside of your home. Even if you are experiencing difficulties breastfeeding your child, you can get help from the midwives and health visitors in the clinic.
When I had my babies, I always used to try to go out between feed times to avoid breastfeeding in public(as I used to feel embarrassed to do so) . Also, if it wasn’t possible to go in between feed times and my baby was awake, I would put her/him on my breast in case they wanted to be fed. It is best to plan ahead whenever you want to go out.
The first few trips
After the birth of you baby, when you go out of the house for the first few times, take someone with you like your partner or your mother while you are still learning how to handle your baby as well as breastfeed him/her. It will take practice if you live in a cold country and have a winter baby like I did. Then you would have to peel of all the layers over yourself and your baby before the baby can be put on the breast.
With practice it will become very easy for both of you,you and your baby.
What are you views on breastfeeding in public? Have you ever breastfed in public? What has you experience been ? Please share via comment box below.