Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Breastfeeding On The Go - Breastfeeding in Public

by Wendy Haldeman, MN, RN, IBCLC, Co-Founder of The Pump Station

A common concern among novice breastfeeding mothers is what to do when your nursing infant needs to be fed and you are away from the safety and comfort of your home, your favorite nursing chair and your breastfeeding pillow. The baby begins to whimper and show signs of hunger. Your palms grow sweaty. The baby starts to wail. Suddenly everyone is looking at you. What to do?

This is a dilemma faced by breastfeeding mothers every day. Sadly, some women decide not to breastfeed because they are so concerned about the possibility of exposing themselves in public. I can now laugh when I remember my first attempt at feeding my new baby. I parked my car in what I thought was a safe, quiet neighborhood, climbed into the back seat and "latched on". Just as I was feeling pretty darn good about my abilities, I was greeted with cat whistles, cheers and applause. I had chosen to park my car across the street from a high rise building under construction. Apparently, I was the entertainment for the morning coffee break. Oh well.

What expectant women need to know is that, unlike me, mothers are breastfeeding their babies in public frequently and the surrounding population are none the wiser. It does require some experience and knowledge before a mom can calmly and easily nurse her baby without anyone being aware that the baby is actually feeding.

Here are some simple tips to help you get started.


  1. To provide you with some sense of modesty, invest in a few articles of "nursing clothing". Our favorite is the Bebe au Lait Nursing Covers.

  2. Locate a breastfeeding mothers support group in your community. Many new mothers find great comfort in breastfeeding for the first time while among other nursing mothers and new babies in a closed room. Novice mothers can observe experienced mothers nursing without pillows in positions which allow for privacy and modesty.

  3. Once you network with other nursing mothers, you can arrange to go out for coffee with a group of experienced moms. Beginners find great comfort in being surrounded by women who breastfeed in any situation. Safety in numbers applies here. If the thought of all the other customers in Starbucks leaving in disgust worries you, stop! Think of yourself as a role model changing the culture for future mothers. And besides, you won't need to wait in line for your coffee.

  4. Next, park your car in an area where you feel safe. You are breastfeeding in public, but the car will provide a sense of privacy, unless of course you have chosen to park under a high rise building during construction.

  5. When ready, go to a park during a time when few people are around. This will enable you to feed in public, yet no one is really around to make you feel uncomfortable.

  6. Scout out department stores and restaurants that are baby friendly. These facilities will have family lounges, couches, etc. where you will be comfortable and undoubtedly encounter other nursing mothers. Nordstrom is a wonderful example of this.

  7. Find a restaurant where you can sit in the back, out of the way of most of the diners. A booth also gives a sense of privacy. Practice here.

The more you practice, the more comfortable you will become. Eventually the sweaty palms resolve and nursing your baby in any environment becomes second nature. If you would like in depth information regarding helpful tips, public breastfeeding and the law, pumping breastmilk at work and more see Our Breastfeeding Resources Page for videos and articles. Get access to thirty years of experience in guiding new mothers to breastfeed.

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5 comments:

Rhoda said...

Good Article! however, from where I live, people, especially men, tend to ogle and that is really annoying. at one point there is this old man who has this most unapproving look as if condemning me with a "righteous than thou" attitude. wow, that really push me over the edge. luckily, I was able to control myself or else i would be on the news lol. Anyway, I don't breastfeed out in the public nowadays, I discovered some pump magic that lets me breastfeed anytime at the privacy of my own home.

Anonymous said...

Hello, I am a Grand Valley State University student and I am doing some research on a product for my advertising class. I was hoping you could help me answer a few questions regarding the specific target audience of nursing mothers.
1. Have you ever heard of “Healthy Pantry Bars?”
2. I have research an additional 500 calories is needed for nursing mothers, is this something you consider to be very important?
3. While nursing, do you tend to have food more natural in ingredients with nutritional value?
4. What type of food can you NOT have while nursing? (Do you pay strict attention to this?)
5. Do you find as a nursing mother you are often short on time to make/have nutritional meals? Would something less time consuming appeal to you?
Thank you for completing these questions, your time and input is greatly appreciated!

The Pump Station & Nurtury™ said...

Hello Grand Valley State University student, I am forwarding this message to Wendy. Please allow a couple of days for a response as she will be answering between consults. Thanks!

The Pump Station & Nurtury™ said...

I have never heard of Healthy Pantry Bars. The current recommendation for nursing mothers is to consume 300-500 additional calories and this does appear to be important. Our population of mothers often choose organic foods and try to avoid heavily processed foods and preservatives. BTW, you can label anything as “natural”. This does not have much meaning. We recommend that nursing mothers eat a wide variety of healthy foods and really don’t advocate avoiding certain foods. Lastly, our mothers are always looking for time efficient meals that are healthy and nutritious.
~Wendy Haldeman, MN, RN, IBCLC

Maddie said...

I am all for breastfeeding in public. But there will be some who just can bring themselves to doing it, no matter what. Good thing there's ways to grab that breast milk and put in a bottle and keep the formula at bay! I know I am thankful for the breast pump I use at times, it has really helped when nursing in public would be impossible. Not every situation will welcome public nursing, unfortunately.