Know your rights. Breastfeeding in public is legal and a very good thing. You are nourishing your baby with the most biologically appropriate food, and—as a great side benefit—you are educating any young men and women who might happen to see you. Breastfeeding in public is officially legal in all 50 states and breastfeeding your baby anywhere is protected by law.
Choose clothes you’ll feel comfortable in. You can buy (or sew) specially-made nursing clothes that have hidden openings to make breastfeeding easier, or you can put together nursing outfits from ordinary clothes. A loose-fitting T-shirt is often a good choice in casual situations, because you can simply lift up the shirt on one side to feed the baby. If it’s loose, the extra fabric will cover most of your belly and breast. A shirt that buttons down the front can be unbuttoned from the bottom to nurse, or unbuttoned from the top if your baby doesn’t like fabric touching his face while he’s breastfeeding.
Practice at home in front of a mirror. If you’ve been concerned about showing a lot of skin, this will probably reassure you that it’s not likely to be an issue. A nursing baby covers your breast rather efficiently. You can try nursing in different outfits to see which ones work for you and your baby. Some babies can’t stand any fabric touching their faces as they nurse, others are less bothered by it, so experiment to find your best options.
Choose an easy-access bra. Many mothers find a stretchy sports-type bra works well for them; rather than having to undo a snap or other fastening, they can simply pull the cup of the bra down under their breasts to feed the baby. If you are using a nursing bra where you need to lower the cup, it might help to practice undoing it one-handed at home.
Turn away to latch. The time when the most skin is likely to be shown is when the baby is first latching on. So let’s say you are sitting in a restaurant booth, next to the wall, but still visible to other diners. Before you latch the baby on, try turning so you are completely facing the wall. Latch your baby on in this position, then turn back to face the table and your dining companions. You can do the same if you need to unlatch the baby
Consider a cover-up. If you feel really uncomfortable breastfeeding in public, you may want to try covering your baby and breast with a blanket or a commercially available cover-up. Be sure to practice at home, because many babies dislike having a blanket over their heads while nursing and will pull it off or fuss.
Use a sling or wrap. With practice, you can breastfeed your baby in most slings or wraps and the fabric of the baby carrier will cover the baby and your breast. You can even walk around while breastfeeding! If you’ve pulled up your shirt from the bottom to make your breast accessible, you may want a belly band or tank top underneath, as your tummy may be exposed.
Plan your response. What if the worst happens, and a mall security guard or restaurant manager comes up to you and insists you go to the washroom to go breastfeed, or a stranger makes a negative comment? It can help to have planned a response in advance.
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