Getting out of the house with your baby for the first time can be scary enough… but when you factor in that first feed out in the big bad world, it can really get the adrenaline pumping. Not all of us are brimming with confidence when it comes to whipping out our boobs to feed, despite how well things are going at home. In fact, for some, this can be a time of real anxiety.
But, fear not. As nerve-wracking as it can be to venture out into the world with your new baby, breastfeeding in public is all about preparation and practice. After getting through your first couple of feeds out and about, your confidence will grow and you’ll handle any challenges with ease.
Here are seven tips to make that first feed in public as stress-free as possible.
Stay close to home
First of all, if feeding is still getting off the ground for you and bub, it makes sense to try to keep breastfeeding confined to the comfort of your home whenever possible in those early days. There’s no point pushing yourself to feed in public if you’re not quite yet comfortable with the feeding game in the first place. If this is the case for you, keep those initial outings short and sweet so you’re always home in time for the next breastfeed.
Be ready for a sudden demand
Newborns don’t tend to be regulated when it comes to feeding, so you might find your baby wanting a feed at an unexpected time. And the thing is, most newborns tend to want to be fed now, and couldn’t care less if you’re lining up at the supermarket with a full basket. Of course, if you’re in a position to stop and drop your top, then this is no problem. But for those other times … just keep a game-plan up your sleeve.
Plan where to breastfeed
It’s up to you where you breastfeed, but not all public places are designed to make mothers feel comfortable and not every place is safe to do so. If you’re unsure, a simple outing to a shopping mall with a dedicated parents room is a good bet; these places tend to be quieter and are designed to give you the comfort and privacy that you need to breastfeed in peace. Plus, anyone who’s in there with you is going to be a parent themselves, so you’ll at least feel less self-conscious.
If you’re modest … that’s cool
Not all of us are happy to feed in public in a really obvious way … although if you are, all the power to you. Breastfeeding is legal and a beautiful way to feed your baby, and if you’re happy to be loud and proud about it, good for you. However, some mums like a bit of modesty by using a breastfeeding cover or strategically placed muslin, and that’s totally fine too. This can come in handy if your baby wants to feed immediately and won’t let you get to a parents room or other place that offers privacy.
Bring what you need to make it comfortable
If you need your breastfeeding pillow to feed your baby comfortably, then squish it under the pram or in a big enviro bag and take it along with you. It’s important that you feel comfortable when you feed in public, where you might find yourself in a hard-backed chair or on a bench with no support. If you end up feeding in a funny position, your could damage your nipples, strain your back, or simply not feed as efficiently as you normally would if you had your creature comforts.
Make sure your nappy bag has your back
Be sure to pack spare clothes, nappies, breast pads and anything else that could help you cater for any spit-ups that often accompany a feed. You wouldn’t want to get to the end of a successful breastfeed, high-five yourself and then have your baby promptly refund half of it all over your top for you to walk around the shops in. Maybe pack a change of clothes for you too, just in case.
Make the most of your mother’s group
Your mother’s group is a perfect place to hone your ‘out and about’ feeding skills. Not only are you surrounded by other mums doing the same things with their babies, but you have support on tap and you’re in the right place if a feeding issue crops up. You can also swap stories and compare notes with mums experiencing the same issues as you – and enjoy some helpful advice if you’re looking for it.