The mere thought of breastfeeding in public can be intimidating to a new mother. Yet the cultural stigma to breastfeeding in public can cause even more anxiety. Here are some ways to overcome the challenge.
- Realize the benefits of breastfeeding. There are so many health advantages to breastfeeding: it boosts your baby's immune system and can prevent against certain diseases and the development of allergies. Aside from health reasons, it is more convenient than bottle feeding and can create a strong bond between mother and child.
- Follow your motherly instincts. A hungry baby is not a happy baby. Your baby needs to eat and the world does not stand still for a fussy, hungry baby. Without much effort you can feed and soothe your baby in an instant by breastfeeding. Your baby also needs consistency with breastfeeding. To break the habit by introducing a bottle for convenience can cause confusion for your child.
- Understand the issues. In our culture, exposing a breast is viewed as taboo and is mainly associated to something to be done privately. Breasts are seen as sexual objects and are used to sell. Yet as people become more aware of breastfeeding benefits, in today's world it is slowly becoming more accepted. Other cultures view breasts solely as a source for food and comfort for their babies. They don't think twice about public breastfeeding. As more mothers display breastfeeding confidence, public awareness will rise and it will eventually become more accepted.
- Know your rights. It is not illegal in any state to publicly breastfeed. You have the right to live a normal life and to not have to skip your daily activities because you chose the best nutritional option for your child.
- Gain confidence. Take pride in what you are doing. Be confident in your decision and do not hesitate out of fear of what others think. Confront your inhibitions and only worry about what is best for your baby, not what the stranger at the table next to you thinks.
- Prepare. Plan your breastfeeding strategy. Dress to allow for easy feeding access. There are several options for stylish breastfeeding clothing today with easy openings. Carry the baby in a sling to inconspicuously feed or even drape a shawl or blanket over baby if that makes you more comfortable.
- Practice! Master the art of breastfeeding in public. Spend time at home familiarizing yourself with how the clothing works or how to adjust the sling for breastfeeding. Try it a few times before heading out into the world.
- Plan ahead. Feed your baby before you leave to give yourself more time. If you plan to be out and about for an extended time, determine where you will be when it is time to feed. Certain situations may be more comfortable for you than others.
- Feed the baby. Evaluate your surroundings and find somewhere comfortable to feed. Act natural and if you want to be discreet, don't wait for your baby to become hungry since that will just draw more attention to the process. Ignore any negative looks and remember, be proud!
- Find local support. Look to family, friends and other breastfeeding mothers for support or attend a La Leche League meeting in your area for support and encouragement. Heading out to lunch or shopping with a supporter can even help alleviate some of your anxiety and you will have back-up at all times!
Following these steps will help you overcome your fears. Just think, the more mothers who do it, the faster it will become accepted!