7 ways to make breastfeeding in public a smooth experience

Gain confidence to feed your little one whenever and wherever.
Written by
Alexandra McCarthy
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Last updated on
June 3, 2024
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Breastfeeding in Public: Tips for a Smooth Experience | Kin Fertility
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Breastfeeding in public can feel intimidating. For starters, you're out of your comfortable home bubble and two, things can feel far more pressurised with members of the public watching on.

But, you shouldn't feel self-conscious about feeding in public; it's normal and necessary. We understand that this is easier said than done, especially when you have a young baby and this is a new experience.

We've compiled 7 easy tips that can help make public breastfeeding a little less daunting and allow you to gain confidence to feed your little one whenever and wherever you may be at the time.

Practice makes perfect

Breastfeeding is a skill that you learn and as with any new skill, practice makes perfect (well, it makes it easier, at least). So, while this might seem obvious, it's good to keep in mind that the more comfortable you become with breastfeeding in general, the more comfortable you'll feel breastfeeding your baby in public.

In preparation for beginning to breastfeed in public, you might also like to practice nursing in different locations around your house. While your usual feeding spot at home is comfy and cosy, feeding in other chairs or areas can help make you feel more at ease in different scenarios before you move on to public situations.

Feeding in front of a mirror can also prove helpful — it might sound strange but it gives you an idea of what other people can see when you're feeding, which may be useful if you're worried about showing skin in public.

It's common to use a nursing pillow to support your baby when breastfeeding at home but chances are you won't be carrying this around when out and about. As part of your practice, you might like to start doing some feeds without the pillow, so you feel more comfortable when it comes to public feeds.

Choose your outfit carefully

You'll want to dress in something easy for public breastfeeding — a dress, for example, isn't the best for breastfeeding access — as this will help make the whole situation more straightforward. There are many breastfeeding-friendly clothing options on the market, which offer discreet openings and are perfect for feeding on the go.  

You can also try layering up tops for easy access. For example, wear a stretchy singlet underneath a loose top, that way, you can pull the singlet down for access but it's still covering your stomach, while the looser top covers your chest.

Try a breastfeeding cover

While you're not required to use a cover while breastfeeding in public, it might make the experience feel a little less daunting. A lightweight shawl or muslin cloth placed over your shoulder and across your baby can offer some privacy but is still breathable.

Know that you don't have to use a nursing cover if you don't want to — but, if you prefer a little more coverage, that's great too!

We should also note that not all babies like to be covered while feeding, while others do, so this will play a role in your decision-making too.

Plan where to feed

It won't always be possible to plan where you'll be feeding your baby when you're out, but if you're new to public breastfeeding, you might find it helpful to plan where you'll conduct your feeds.

You might like to time feeds for when you're in a cafe or restaurant, or when you know you'll have access to a bench, chair or baby room. It won't always be possible — a hungry baby can strike at any time! — but, for the first few ventures out, this might prove helpful.

Bring a friend

For your first few trips out of the house, it can be helpful to have your partner or a friend with you to help lend a hand. Dealing with a crying baby is no mean feat and things can go from peaceful to stressful pretty quickly.

Try to plan to have a pal with you for your first public nursing session — they can hold baby while you get yourself ready and be there for moral support. It's normal to feel nervous when breastfeeding in public and having a friendly face with you can make it a little easier.

Find a comfortable breastfeeding position

There are a number of breastfeeding positions that you might employ at home but not all of these will translate when you're out in public.

The easiest position to use in this scenario is the cross-cradle hold, which involves bringing your baby across the front of your body, so you're tummy to tummy. Then, hold baby in the crook of the arm opposite to the breast you're feeding from [2].

Try getting used to this position when you're home, so both you and your bub can comfortably do it when in a public setting.

Know your rights

While all of the above tips can help make breastfeeding in public feel a bit more straightforward, the most important thing to know is that you're allowed to breastfeed anywhere and everywhere and you shouldn't be made to feel uncomfortable for doing so.

In Australia, breastfeeding is protected by the federal Sex Discrimination Act 1984. According to the Act, it's illegal to discriminate against a person either directly or indirectly on the ground of breastfeeding. This also includes parents who need to express breast milk by hand or using a pump [1].

Despite this legislation, breastfeeding in public doesn't always feel accessible or comfortable. Kin Fertility led a survey to better understand how nursing mothers feel about this issue and many are experiencing the same thing.

In fact, 2 in 3 women said they feel uncomfortable breastfeeding or pumping in public, with 72% saying that fear of social commentary was the biggest barrier they faced.

The message is clear: Australian women need more BFF spaces. More BreastFeeding Friendly spaces that protect a mum's right to breastfeed or breast pump and welcome their choice to do so whenever they need to.

94% of respondents said they would use designated safe spaces to feed if they existed and, with this in mind, we're calling upon you to pledge your BFF business! Display a window decal to welcome breastfeeding or pumping mums into your judgement-free space. Let your community know you're a BFF space with our downloadable social media templates.

We're on a mission to make the experience of breastfeeding in public as easy as possible. And, if we can do that through the creation of more BFF spaces across the country, parents might feel more empowered to feed their babies in public without fear or judgement.

Want more information? Learn all about Kin's BFF campaign here. And, if you're after more breastfeeding-related content, we've got you covered with Kin The Know — explore everything from how to treat a blocked milk duct to the benefits of breast massage and ways to relieve cracked and bleeding nipples.

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