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So, new mama, you’re breastfeeding… fantastic! You are very aware that this “mommy-nectar” is the best way to feed your baby while establishing early bonding, but unfortunately breast milk comes out of breasts!
Ahhh breastfeeding in public… The age-old debate between a peep show and one of nature’s most natural instincts are still, in 2017 (believe it or not!), a current topic. It seems as if modern society, unless of course you’re baring it all as a magazine cover girl, is offended by a woman using her breasts like they were intended.
Did you know that the rate of exclusive breastfeeding up to six months of age for babies in South Africa is only 8%? According to an international study published in the online journal Maternal and Child Nutrition, mothers are made to feel marginalised and ashamed when they breastfeed in public. Research also indicates that new moms are put off by breastfeeding because of negative comments and fear of public disapproval. The sad truth is that there is more emphasis on the where of breastfeeding than the why.
Perhaps one of the main reasons why people are offended by breastfeeding in public is because of their own comfort level. Many feel uncomfortable seeing a woman’s breast with a baby latched on to it; they might feel uncertain as to how to react to it. Truth is that not everyone is quite ready to accept that breastfeeding is perfectly natural and beautiful, but for the nursing mom who feels at ease with breastfeeding in public – you are fulfilling your maternal duties and feeding your baby in the most natural way possible, well done!
However, we have a few tips for more reserved moms:
- Know your rights. Breastfeeding in public is legal. Pick a spot comfortable for you.
- Wear something easy to breastfeed in. Try nursing tank-tops (with built-in bra’s) under your clothes. This turns almost any top into a breastfeeding top. The undershirt will stay tucked in so that you don’t have to expose your breast or your belly, while just enough breast is free for baby to latch on to.
- Consider a cover-up. If you feel really uncomfortable breastfeeding in public, cover your breast and baby with a blanket or towel. Breastfeeding supporters are not fans of cover-ups, however for some women a cover-up can make all the difference between feeling comfortable nursing in public and not wanting to do it at all.
- Use a sling or a wrap. You can breastfeed on-the-go and no-one will be the wiser. Once you get the hang of it, it’s much easier than you think!
- If you notice someone frowning or looking horrified, smile confidently. You are feeding your baby.
- Plan your response. If the worst happens and someone suggests that you use the washroom, politely say: “No thanks, we don’t eat in washrooms.” Or, if a manager at a restaurant has a complaint from a customer, again politely, suggest that the customer who complained be moved to a different table where they can’t see you.
- If you’re still nervous, look at your baby. You’re both doing what you’re designed to do.
Remember moms, even when practised discreetly, there will always be raised eyebrows and disapproving glances towards those who dare to breastfeed in public. Consider them as one of the bullies on the playground that you and your child will face on your journey.
DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is for educational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms or need health advice, please consult a healthcare professional.