Tips For Breastfeeding in Public: Making Life Easier For Nursing Moms
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Tips For Breastfeeding in Public: Making Life Easier For Nursing Moms

Breastfeeding mothers might feel nervous about nursing their baby in public - but there's no need to worry or think you need to stop breastfeeding! Check out our list of the best tips for breastfeeding in public. 

If you're a new breastfeeding mom, chances are you might feel a little nervous when it comes to public breastfeeding. Thankfully, you have the right to breastfeed your hungry baby wherever and whenever you please (at the store, shopping malls, amusement parks, restaurants, or public parks, and more!), so check out these tips for breastfeeding to make the process easier for you and your infant.

Tips for nursing in public 

Young Woman Breastfeeding Baby

Public nursing is a right for all moms. Infants and toddlers need to eat, but if you're worried about covering up or getting unwanted attention from judgmental strangers, follow these tips to make breastfeeding a breeze. 

Practice at home first before public breastfeeding. 

If you're worried about showing too much of your breasts during breastfeeding sessions, here's some advice: Grab a mirror and practice how you would breastfeed while out and about. Chances are, all anyone around you can see is the back of your baby's head while they nurse, but if you still feel self-conscious, practice using a nursing shawl and pull it all the way around your baby's body for extra coverage. A little practice goes a long way when it comes to feeling comfortable breastfeeding in other places.

Keep a breastfeeding cover in the diaper bag for public outings. 

KeaBabies nursing cover and diaper bag

Nursing covers (like this one from KeaBabies) are soft, flexible, breathable covers that help keep your body private as you're feeding your baby. A good nursing cover is soft, stretchy, and thin enough that your baby can still get air when breastfeeding in public. If you don't have a nursing blanket, a ring sling type carrier or a receiving blanket can also double as nursing covers and protect a mother from unwanted stares.

The KeaBabies All-In-One Multi-Use Cover provides comfort, style, and protection. It is soft and breathable, and gives parents 360 degree protection, allowing them to nurse anytime, anywhere! An added bonus? It can also double as a car seat cover, shopping cart cover, or high chair cover - and it is easy to carry in the diaper bag!

Plan around your little one's breastfeeding schedule. 

KeaBabies Nursing Cover

If you want, you can completely avoid breastfeeding in public by scheduling outings around your child's feeding schedule. You can feed your baby right before you leave the house, and that will give you several hours where you can run errands, enjoy a meal out, or visit a friend without worrying about a hungry baby!

Not sure what your infant's nursing schedule will be? Consider their age. A newborn needs to eat every 1-3 hours, and older infants can typically go 3-4 hours between feedings. Children that have started solid foods might also go longer between feeding sessions.

Wear clothes that give your baby easy access. 

Woman Breastfeeding Her Little Baby at Home

If you want to breastfeed in public, be sure to wear clothing that supports it. Women can plan what they are wearing to be nursing-friendly, so their baby can get quick access to the breast when they need to eat.

Stretchy and flowy dresses, two piece outfits, nursing tank tops, and nursing shirts can make it easier to give baby access to the breast so they can nurse in public. Many shirts and dresses can be pulled to the side (breastfeeding specific clothing often has clips or snaps) so that your baby can eat.

Visit places that have designated breastfeeding areas. 

Woman Breastfeeding her Child at the Airport

Many shopping malls, zoos, stores, and amusement parks have designated areas that are family-friendly and support breastfeeding babies. If you're worried about breastfeeding in public, you can ask customer service if they have good places in the stores for families that have a quiet, private area for nursing parents to feed their babies.

Consider bottle feeding.

If you don't want to put baby at the breast in public, you don't have to stop breastfeeding! You can use a breast pump to express breast milk, and then carry a bottle of milk with you when you go to stores. Breast pumps come in many forms, and are often covered by a mother's insurance provider. There are manual breast pumps, wearable breast pumps, electric breast pumps, and silicone milk catchers. Choose what works for your life and your feeding goals.

Many breastfeeding moms choose to bottle feed in public - it's often more convenient than having a baby breastfeed, especially if you're nervous about public stares. Just make sure to store the milk at the right temperature for your little one to prevent contamination.

Ask a friend to help you breastfeed discreetly. 

One of the best tips for nursing in public is to grab a friend and have them spot you! If you're concerned about too much skin showing when breastfeeding in public, have a friend sit near you so that no one bothers you while you nurse.

The friend can also double-check that you stay covered if you choose to use a cover or blanket. A friend can pull or adjust a blanket to make sure you feel covered. Mamas have to encourage one another, especially when it comes to breastfeeding!

Know the rights for breastfeeding mamas

Did you know that nursing moms have certain rights that protect breastfeeding in public places? There are laws that enable women to meet their breastfeeding goals and pumping goals, including laws that protect nursing parents at work.

If you're curious, you can look up individual policies from state legislatures about infant feeding rights. The National Conference of State Legislatures website can give you more information about laws in your state.

Advice for public feeding: are there any laws?

If you're out and about, you have the right to nurse your baby. There are no federal legal guidelines for nursing, but individual states decide.

Federal guidelines guarantee that you can nurse your infant anytime on federal property. Employers must also allow you to nurse or pump during breaks.

Advice for pumping at work: what are the laws?

Related to public breastfeeding, most workplaces honor a woman's right to pump during the workday. There are currently several federal laws that protect employees who need to pump at work.

These legal guidelines require employers to provide nursing moms with normal time and a private room or space to pump. The law specifies that the room needs to be secluded and functional (not a bathroom), set up to be helpful for mothers.

The law also requires reasonable break time to pump, which should mimic the natural feeding schedule that the infant experiences at home.

These legal guidelines cover most hourly and salaried employees, and now includes teachers, nurses, farm workers, and more. The law covers mothers for one year after their child's birth.

Breastfeeding in public doesn't have to be scary

woman breastfeeding in the park

By following these tips, moms can feel confidence as they nurse their babies in public places. Whenever their infant is crying and hungry, they should be able to eat comfortably! Thankfully, several laws also protect a woman's right to feed her baby. With some patience, you'll be able to nurse your baby in public with confidence and ease. 

Meet Our KeaMommy Contributor: Kaitlyn Torrez

I’m Kaitlyn Torrez, from the San Francisco Bay Area. I live with my husband and two children, Roman and Logan. I’m a former preschool teacher, currently enjoying being a stay at home mom. I love all things writing, coffee, and chocolate. In my free time, I enjoy reading, blogging, and working out.

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