Pre-baby the idea of breastfeeding in public was horrific. I couldn’t believe that I’d ever be comfortable with the idea. I’d think, ‘What if somebody saw my boob?!’ Six months into my breastfeeding journey, and I can safely say I no longer give two hoots. And actually, I barely cared, even right at the start. I completely surprised myself in that regard.
I knew I wanted to breastfeed before Jacob was born, so I figured that it was likely I’d need to feed outside the house at some point. When I thought about it, I felt nervous that someone would say something to me. You hear scare stories of women being asked to cover up and/or leave when they breastfeed their babies in public, and I thought I would die of embarrassment if that happened to me. I also just couldn’t imagine sitting there talking to friends and family with my boob out. It all just seemed so awkward, and I’m quite shy!
The least of my worries
All the worries I had about breastfeeding in public went out the window almost instantly after Jacob was born. I was too focused on making sure my latch was correct—avoiding any further nipple shredding (ouch)—and making sure the baby was feeding enough to be concerned about whether I was exposing too much. In the end, breastfeeding seemed like such a natural thing. I think I forgot that boobs are seen in a sexual way too.
I have breastfed anywhere and everywhere. Restaurants, pubs, parks, coffee shops, a bus. Never once have I experienced any negativity at all. Actually, I don’t think anyone has ever really noticed. Or if they have, they’ve been polite and averted their eyes. I’ve certainly never had any staring or anything, which was one of my fears.
I am reasonably discrete. I use the ‘one up, one down’ top method (most of the time). And actually, your boob is only exposed for about 2 seconds while you latch the baby on, so if anyone gets an eyeful, it is only for an instant. Once the baby is feeding, their head hides pretty much everything.
I’ll sometimes hold a scarf or a large muslin to cover us if Jacob is fussing a lot and pulling off, but now that he’s bigger that doesn’t really work. He just pulls it down. To be honest, I don’t really care about strangers seeing my boob. I do feel slightly more awkward about older, male family friends etc. and I actually think that’s because I’m worried about making them feel uncomfortable. I have now decided though, that if anyone has a problem with me breastfeeding, it’s just that—their problem. Not mine. They can always avert their eyes or walk away.
My tips for mums worried about breastfeeding in public:
- Wear a vest top you can pull down, and another top you pull up over the top. This minimises the amount of flesh exposed at any time. It’s also cheaper than buying nursing tops.
- On the odd occasion when I felt self-conscious, I used a large muslin to try to cover up a bit. Cheaper than an expensive nursing cover and has multiple uses, so won’t be wasted.
- Above all, don’t worry. It’s highly unlikely anyone is even looking. You hear these horror stories in the press of women being told off, but I honestly have never met a single person in real life who has experienced it.
Overall, I’d say the most important thing to remember is that you are just feeding your baby. That’s what boobs are for. You are doing an amazing job and you don’t need to be ashamed of that.