Breastfeeding is a difficult task to master – breastfeeding in public is even more tricky, especially if you’re a rather shy first time mother. My first attempt didn’t go very well, it was in a busy M&S cafe – my son was very small and still could only feed using a nipple shield, I hadn’t practiced with the cover up scarf I’d bought, All in all I just felt awkward and uncomfortable and soon resorted to the back up bottle of expressed milk. In fact, I spent the next few weeks frantically expressing breastmilk for every trip out we would take. Putting undue pressure on myself. But things did get easier when my confidence grew and I discovered these few things.
Nursing rooms – sounds obvious but I didn’t realise most places have pretty decent nursing rooms, ranging from just a chair behind a curtain, to a proper room equipped with rocking chair, little table, hook on the door and art on the walls (Fenwicks!) All department stores will have a nursing room and some larger shopping centres do too. Not that you should lock yourself away to nurse, but these rooms are great for when you’re building confidence to feed in public, you fancy some time out and when you’re baby reaches that age where everything distracts them from feeding.
Coffee shops – lots of parents choose to feed their baby in a coffee shop where they can fuel up too, breastfeeding shouldn’t be a exception. Try choosing a not as popular time of the day if you’re feeling nervous, the between breakfast and lunch lull perhaps. Get a seat in a corner if possible, you’ll feel more comfortable if there’s only one side you need to cover up, and try to get a sofa seat rather than chair, sofas are great for feeding babies as you can slouch into them and most other customers won’t even notice what you’re doing.
Cover ups/smother ups! There are loads of expensive nursing tops and scarf type numbers online you can buy to aid more discreet feeding. They may work for you, and if so, great – but I’ve found they can be extremely fiddly, you’ll panic if you inevitably forget it one time and, in fact, they draw more attention if it looks like you’re wearing a huge lumpy cape. My advice would be to get some cheap baggy t-shirts, H&M do some fab feminine loose fitting tops with a little pocket in a variety of colours which I found perfect for feeding. Baby can simply go under to feed and they were baggy enough to fit around covering elsewhere, and lightweight enough to not over heat the little one. Because it’s just a normal everyday top most of the time no-one even noticed that I was breastfeeding.
I’m fortunate in that I’ve never had a bad experience breastfeeding in public where someone has looked or commented. In fact, whenever I’ve been out with my son in a restaurant or coffee shop staff have gone out of their way to make a fuss of my son and help me with my tray, cutlery etc. So, my advice would be if it is something that causes you anxiety just go for it – you’ll soon see it’s not that bad and wish you hadn’t hesitated in the first place!