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I’m not going to pretend like I’ve always been comfortable nursing in public. I remember taking Parks to the zoo to get some fresh air a few weeks after he was born. I found a bench tucked in a little cove near the elephants, and that’s where I breastfed P in public for the first time. Hidden and hoping nobody would notice. 🙄 I definitely had a fear of nursing in public.
In those early weeks, I was always desperate to find a private location because I didn’t feel comfortable in front of others. It didn’t take long before I realized that nobody was paying attention, and if someone did notice, they certainly didn’t care. The zoo turned out to be one of the best places for a breastfeeding mother. A lot of visitors have kids, so I couldn’t have picked a more accepting and family-friendly place to face my fear of nursing in public.
As loud and proud as I am about nursing in public spaces, I still feel a little anxious sometimes. I’m human, after all. However, it’s not enough to bring me pause. Instead, I focus on the fact that having the ability to nurse my baby is the most natural and amazing phenomenon. All 21 pounds of him is the result of the nourishment I’ve provided from my own body.
Since that first day at the zoo, I’ve nursed Parks all over a theme park, at restaurants, on airplanes, walking down the street, and even on a chair lift.
In six short months, I’ve become passionate about encouraging other first-time moms to face fears and quiet the voices in their head that cause anxiety. I want to help new mothers feel comfortable, empowered, and confident feeding their babies regardless of where they might find themselves with a hungry baby.
Tips To Overcoming A Fear Of Nursing In Public
If you have a fear of nursing in public, here are a few tips from someone who’s been there:
Go ahead and find a private space that makes you feel more comfortable. Finding a good place hidden from view might help you feel less rushed as you fuss with your shirt and try different positions to find the right position for your baby without the comforts of home like a Boppy pillow or comfortable chairs.
Practice in front of a mirror
By practicing in front of a mirror, you’ll be able to see what others see. You’ll realize that you’re not as exposed as you think you are, and it’ll help you overcome a lack of confidence you may feel as you’re just getting started in your breastfeeding journey.
Choose your outfits wisely
As you’re getting dressed in the morning, choose shirts that provide easy access. Dresses may be comfortable for your postpartum body, but they are a nightmare when it comes to public breastfeeding. I also highly recommend a nursing bra. You can also buy a nursing top or two. I prefer wearing a normal top because I realized while practicing that I wasn’t as exposed as I initially thought.
Try a cover-up.
If baring a little skin isn’t your jam, that’s OK! For me, a breastfeeding cover made it harder and hotter. I found the cover-up stifling and it was hard for me to re-latch him. I simply realized they weren’t for me and decided I’d have to find a way to become comfortable without it. Everyone’s journey is different.
Find a way to support your baby’s weight.
Find some additional support to place under your baby to save your arms and back. The easiest solution could be your baby’s bag, back pack, or purse. A great option is the Tushbaby Hip Carrier because it serves so many purposes and is easy to strap to the stroller when I’m not using it.
Know your rights about nursing in public!
The good news is that I’ve never had a negative experience or gotten so much as a funny look while nursing in public, but if someone ever does say something to me, I know the federal law is on my side and I’m ready to kindly educate people about it.
Just do it.
The best way for a new mom to get over the anxiety of nursing in public is to just go for it. It won’t take long before you realize that nobody cares! It’s important for new moms to remember that their mental health is important, too. Going outside and getting back to doing the things you enjoy is a good way to feel better in those postpartum months, even if it means getting out of your comfort zone.
In a world where nursing in public can still be stigmatized, it’s important to know that we have the right to feed our babies wherever and whenever we need to. It’s not always easy to shake off societal judgment to feel comfortable breastfeeding in public places, but with practice and persistence, it does get easier. Once you experience the bond that comes with nursing your baby, it’s hard to let anything stand in the way. To all the moms who might be feeling anxious or hesitant, take it from me – it’s worth it. You and your baby deserve to share that special moment, no matter where you are.
Public nursing is a personal choice and it’s not for everybody, but if this is your first child and overcoming a fear of nursing in public is one of your breastfeeding goals, I’m here to support you every step of the way. If you have any questions or need some encouragement, feel free to reach out!