Tips for Breastfeeding In Public

April 10, 2012

Breastfeeding is one of the most natural connections between you and your baby, so it’s no wonder many moms choose to breastfeed in public. However, breastfeeding moms sometimes experience criticism for making that decision. It’s important to stay confident and know your rights about breastfeeding in public.

Laws About Breastfeeding In Public

45 states have specific laws supporting breastfeeding in public, some of which offer additional protection. Feel free to review the laws for your specific state, as it may bring added comfort in knowing the government supports your baby’s needs.

Responding to Breastfeeding Criticism

Unfortunately, public breastfeeding criticism does still exist in our culture, but don’t let that stop you. Here are some ways to respond if someone criticizes you or simply has a question about what you’re doing:

  • Explain the benefits of breastfeeding and your commitment to providing the best nutrition for your little one (pssst – we have a long list of breastfeeding benefits).
  • If someone is being rude or disrespectful to your baby’s needs, it’s ok to entirely ignore them. You know you’re doing what’s best for your baby, so don’t feel obligated to explain yourself.
  • Calmly discuss differences in opinion, without accepting their criticism. Disagreements happen, so don’t be afraid to defend your values.
  • Explain the demands of breastfeeding and how often you need to breastfeed in order to provide for your little one.
  • Tell them that every family is different and this is what works best for your family.

Tips for Breastfeeding In Public

Some moms have questions about how to discreetly breastfeed in a public place. Here are some suggestions to try:

  • Experiment with different loose-fitting shirts that allow for easy access to your breast.
  • Try a breastfeeding blanket if it makes you more comfortable. Many wrap around your shoulders and cover your breasts while feeding.
  • Keep your baby close with a baby sling. Many slings keep your baby in a natural breastfeeding position making it extremely easy to start breastfeeding on-the-go.
  • Practice how you would breastfeed in public in the comfort of your home. Once you feel familiar, you can begin breastfeeding in other places outside of the home.

Moms, do you have any tips to add about breastfeeding in public? How do you manage breastfeeding criticism? Share your tips in the comments below.

16 thoughts on “Tips for Breastfeeding In Public

  1. Changing rooms are a great place to breastfeed. They usually have a stool or bench, and for babies who like to try and play peek-a-boo with the nursing cover(like my daughter, lol) this is a great alternative to Breastfeeding in public.

  2. Carie Austin says:

    I purchased a few tank tops that are nursing friendly and I wear them underneath my shirts. It allows me to pull up my shirt to breastfeed while still covering my sides and back from exposure. This is especially nice when breastfeeding in a public place! Before I discovered the tank tops, I was trying to breastfeed my oldest daughter in a restaurant while sitting in a chair that had a big opening in the back. I was too worried about my shirt not covering my back and sides, that I went into the family restroom and squatted on my feet to feed my newborn. Now I don’t have to worry! I am comfortable, covered, and giving my baby the best possible nutrition available!

    When my firstborn was just starting to nurse, I was having issues with her latching on correctly. A friend and his girlfriend came to my house to see her. She was getting hungry so I got my nursing cover and tried getting her to latch. She was making sucking sounds until she got a good latch. After my friend had left, his girlfriend sent a text telling me that he was very offended that I was feeding my baby in front of him. I told my husband what the text said and he got very upset. After we talked about it more, we decided to ask our friend what made him so offended. I was feeding my baby in the comfort of my own home, there is nothing wrong with that. Our friend wouldn’t answer us, so I sent his girlfriend a text asking what exactly made him offended. “The sucking sound. He didn’t like that a girl was sucking on your nipples.” I was outraged. Completely outraged. My daughter was born at 35 weeks, she couldn’t even latch onto me until she was about 14 days old, so I was having a super hard time with all my emotions and breastfeeding for the first time. I cried and cried. The next day, we confronted our friend and explained to him that our preemie needed the best chance we could give her since she was born early, and that chance was providing her with the best possible nourishment we could give her. That meant breastfeeding. We told him that I’m allowed to breastfeed my baby in my home. He then asked that when he came over and my baby got hungry, that I move into a different room so he wouldn’t be around the breastfeeding. My husband then told him that if he has a problem with it, he could excuse himself from our house and not come back.

    I feel incredibly blessed to have a husband who supports what I do for our children. We have three daughters who are 3, 1, and 6 months. I’ve breastfed each of my daughters! I am still breastfeeding my baby! I plan on breastfeeding as long as she wants to! I am not ashamed of breastfeeding. It’s what’s natural!

    • Thanks for sharing your story and supporting other breastfeeding moms. We are so proud of you for being that devoted to breastfeeding.

  3. I found that I felt better about breastfeeding in public if I was with people who helped me to feel really relaxed. My husband and I often have dinner with my sister and brother-in-law who support breastfeeding and felt comfortable with me doing it while we were out. I felt more relaxed and it seemed natural to feed baby while we were waiting on dinner ourselves. Being relaxed and having a good time helped me to forget that I was in public and that it might be a “big deal” to breastfeed. It just seemed like the four of us were hanging out like always, so I fed the baby like always! Likewise, eating with baby can be a challenge, so I had lots of people around to help me eat once dinner did arrive!

  4. I usually end up breastfeeding in my car, for a few reasons: I’m more comfortable with my air conditioning/heat, my radio or audio book, my cushioned seats with supportive backs, and fewer distractions for my curious and friendly little girl. There are too few public places that can offer more comfortable arrangements, and although I’ve gotten a few odd looks, I’ve never had anyone knock on my window to tell me they don’t approve! 🙂

  5. “If a bottle feeding baby can have a peaceful dinner in public then why can’t a breastfeeding baby have the same rights?” More criticizing people need to hear that quote so that they can have a better understanding on the situation.

    I don’t have a child, the time being. But I am pregnant and 17 so im sure ill be getting quite a bit of criticism, but I will proudly breastfeed my hungry child in public if she’s hungry regardless of what any people have to say. I’m glad I came across this article, it has very good information and suggestions in the comments as well 🙂

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