Breastfeeding can be difficult enough at home, but doing it in public can be particularly daunting. If you choose to try it out, make sure you are both mentally and physically prepared for it. There are a lot of things you can do to prepare to breastfeed in public, but most importantly make sure you are comfortable with it.
Know Your Rights
Currently, India has no laws specifically regarding breastfeeding in public. Prevalence and social acceptance vary from region to region. In rural India, public breastfeeding is completely acceptable – and no one bats an eye. Generally, breastfeeding in public places is common in lower economic sections, but less so in the higher economic sections. Still, nourishing your baby with the most biologically appropriate food is the best thing you can do – wherever you are. Nobody should prevent you from nursing your child, even if you’re in public. You are not bound to cover up either if that isn’t comfortable for you. However, if you do choose to be discreet, you can do a few things to make the entire process easier. Use a sling or a wrap to easily carry your baby around. Wear an easy access bra so that you don’t have to spend time fidgeting around when trying to get your breast out. Once your breast is out, you may choose to turn against the wall to latch your baby, as this is the time when your nipple is most likely to be seen. Sit somewhere you have enough back support and make sure you have a planned response should anyone choose to object to you breastfeeding.
How to prepare to go outside your home
Leaving the house with your new-born can feel like a huge undertaking. If you feel the need to hide away at home whenever your baby decides they’re hungry, you're likely to feel tied down or isolated.
This is a time when you could both benefit from trips out and socialising
The first thing to remember is that most new mothers have been through the same thing.
It’s perfectly acceptable to breastfeed your baby when you’re outside your home.
Many mothers find that often people are not even aware they’re breastfeeding and think you and your baby are just having a cuddle.
Breastfeeding away from home is essential
Breastfeeding when you’re out and about is convenient, hygienic and the most natural and healthy way for your baby to feed.
You should be proud of what you’re doing
You can be one of the growing number of mothers who help make breastfeeding more visible and acceptable. After all, it’s an essential part of your baby’s day.
Where should you breastfeed?
Today, it’s a lot easier to find somewhere a little more private to breastfeed in public. Many shopping centres, department stores, baby shops and supermarkets have special feeding rooms where you can breastfeed and change your baby’s nappy.
How to feel confident and comfortable
It may help you to feel more confident if you practice at home first, without pillows and in different chairs.
Experiment with different types of clothing that can be easily unbuttoned, or a nursing top.
When you’re ready to try breastfeeding in public, get yourself settled into a comfortable chair with good support.
If you think you’re going to feel self-conscious, sit with your back to the majority of people in the restaurant or café. A scarf or muslin cloth can help you feed more discreetly, too. Just slip it over any bare areas once your baby has latched on.
A good tip is to have a drink of water to hand – breastfeeding is thirsty work!
Try and avoid sitting too close to a heat source as breastfeeding increases your body temperature naturally and you may end up sweaty or dehydrated
Practice At Home
Breastfeeding in open places might feel like a daunting task – even though nobody should have a problem with a baby eating food when they’re hungry. You might be conscious about showing a lot of skin, but most of that is innate. You can build up to this by practicing at home.
Start off by practicing in front of a mirror. Hold your baby as you normally would to feed them, and sit comfortably in front of a mirror. Get used to looking at yourself in the mirror with your baby at the teat. You will realize that when the baby is feeding, most of the breast is, in fact, covered up. You can also try covering up, and seeing whether or not the baby is comfortable feeding while covered. Some babies cannot stand the feeling of fabric touching their faces, while others are not bothered by it at all. Now is the time to try on different outfits, and find out which ones are conducive to breastfeeding. Also try practicing the entire process. Breastfeeding in public is not something you should rush into. It is okay to not be comfortable with the idea of showing skin in public. Whatever decision you take, just remember that feeding your child is a natural process and nothing should ever come in between that – not even the general public.
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