Breastfeeding in Public

Megan - posted on 11/30/2009 ( 22 moms have responded )

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I dont know whether its just me or not but I feel so dirty while breastfeeding in public. I feel like Im doing something wrong, I know its the most natural thing in the world but when Im feeding him I feel like there are all these eyes on me. Does anyone else feel this way?? Or have any Ideas on how to over come this??

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Petra - posted on 02/18/2011

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First I felt the same way and actually before I got pregnant and BF, I was one of those people who couldn't understand BF in public. Now I would BF anywhere and somebody has a problem, he doesn't have to stare at me. For me it was about getting experienced with BF and babies (my twins) becoming confident feeders.

Kathi - posted on 02/09/2011

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I used to breastfeed anywhere in public and nobody knew. I just draped a receiving blanket over my shoulder and over the baby. If someone came along and wanted to see the baby I would just say, later, I 'm just getting him to sleep.

Amber - posted on 02/04/2011

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My son is 2.5 months old and I still feel like I need to hide and or ask the friends I'm with if it's ok or not. It's a shame that society has made breastfeeding such a shameful feeling thing when it shouldn't be. I struggle to breastfeed partly from the negativity surrounding it. Honestly the only thing you can do is say "f%*( you" and give your child the natural nourishment he/she needs whenever and wherever you are.

Sarah - posted on 12/06/2010

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I use one of those nursing covers, its light weight so the babies not hot, and the neckline is bendable so u can still see your baby. At first I felt like I was wearing an apron but its make it so easy and stays in place while you get situated.
Personally I would nurse anywhere at anytime without the cover. But I use it so other people (like my brother-in-law) dont feel akward.

Chelsea - posted on 11/29/2010

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my husband who supported me breastfeeding thought it was wrong that i do it in public and when it was hot he was even more upset if i did it "uncovered" i didnt see any problem with it but it is natural. if you feel uncomfortable then dont do it out. i am pretty modest and it took a while for me to be comfortable doing it, I really only started to bf in public uncovered when it got hot and i was more uncomfortable covered or sitting in the car rather then bf in the store. alot of superstores that have changing rooms will let you go into a changing stall to BF if you don't want to be out in the open which i was much more comfortable with in the beginning

Annie - posted on 11/25/2010

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I've never been in the least bothered about bf'ing in public, in fact I'm quite proud of it & I'll stare right back at anyone who dares to have a problem with it! I have walked through the mall/shopping centre with my child in a sling & been bf'ing him. He is now 1 & I'm still not bothered about doing it in public (admittedly he is a small baby).

Saying that, I've never been bothered about sunbathing topless either. In my mind, breasts are just part of the female figure, they are no more a sexual object than an exposed neck or midriff, or a short skirt. But when put into the context of a NURSING mother, I'm sure most men would find that a turn off! Breast automatically loose their sexual attraction at that point as they are fulfilling a higher purpose.

There have recently been a few publicised incidences in the UK of bf'ing mothers who have been turfed off of public transport for feeding their child. The company has then responded saying that they actively encourage women to breastfeed & the staff member in question has been spoken to. The Law now says a women can breastfeed her child wherever she wants. If it had been me, I'd have told them where to go, but then I know where mothers stand on the subject.

This is one of my favourite quotes, it squashes any feelings in me that may surface that I am doing anything wrong. I hope it empowers you:
"I will nurse my child anytime, anywhere, no matter who is present or what I am wearing.
I will bare my breast with pride and confidence.
I will not apologize for nourishing and nurturing my child.
I will not smother my child with a napkin or blanket.
I will smile at everyone around me and ignore rude stares.
I will know that I am giving my child the perfect infant food from the most efficient, ecological, and economical delivery system.
I will know that I am giving my child the healthy start that is his or her birthright.
I will set an example for women and girls, educate the public, dispel breastfeeding myths, desexualize the breast, and make the world a better place, all through the simple act of feeding my child."

Minnie - posted on 10/28/2010

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You may be stressing more than necessary. When you look down at your self nursing you see more than the person looking across at you.

Yes, consult The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, it is a great guide by La Leche League. View your self in a mirror. Unless you are a big breasted woman, you will find very little is exposed.

Also, think more about your baby rather than what others think. Isn't he or she the most precious thing in the world? Don't they have the right to eat their food in peace? I think that it is lewd of mothers to bottle feed their babies in public. The bottle is a symbol of the woman's nipple and they flaunt it everywhere and there is no discreetness in a bottle; yet, it is what we have come to accept. We should get angry that this is the norm and the "norm" has become unacceptable.

You are giving you baby the best nutrition. You should be proud of what you are doing rather than feeling ashamed. Evaluate where these feelings are coming from. If this is your first child it is very reasonable to have these feelings. As you nurse more babies, it will become 2nd nature to you.

Like I said earlier, you may be worrying needlessly. I have had people come right up to me and want to kiss the baby before they realized the baby was nursing. We think they see more than they do. Either way, it always pays to be discreet, but not at the sacrifice of reasoning.

It is federal law that you have the right to feed your baby anywhere! The right to feed your precious child is guaranteed. You should feel PROUD not ashamed. You are performing a valuable service. Don't let anyone take this moment from you, not even yourself!

Elena - posted on 10/03/2010

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Hi Megan. I think a breastfeeding mom is a beautiful sight to admire, and so far from being dirty. It's one of the most archetypal images of all times. I believe we all have it deep inside of us, women and men. However, I understand that taking the breast out and expose it to the public might look weird if you think of it as a sexual attraction. But in this circumstance, the breast is something more, something that has a higher value for all humankind. I mean, it's not as if you were flashing your tits at the concert (though that also has a strong symbolic value...:) I think people around you are more shy then you, they don't dare to watch. The ones that look at you are probably deeply moved by the beauty of your gesture. Personally, I have the feeling my tit doesn't really belong to me, but to my daughter. It loses all sexual value in public, it's, you know, feeding. Grown ups feed on maccaroni, babies on their mother's milk. Since Koko was six months old, though, she refused to breastfeed in public - it was too much fun to watch what's going on around her, that she simply had to participate. And she started to steal my maccaronies!

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Some days are better than others. I am a very modest person, but when it comes to feeding my son, the way I see it, adults will know what your doing (most of the time) and if they look and see a boob, oh well. Maybe they won't look anymore. I use a ring sling that my mother made for me, which is fantastic for nursing. I had him in it one day and a lady who was prego was asking about it, and asked me if I could nurse him in it, and when I told her I was nursing him right when she couldn't believe it! It's not so easy when it's hot but now that he's almost a year, it's a little easier for me. But get a good sling, wear a tank top under your shirt so that it won't be so obvious at first glance, or wear a low cut shirt that you can pull down and pop the boob out. There are a lot of ways that you can be discreet. And just remember, it IS the most natural thing in the world. And if anyone has an issue, let them know you are protected by LAW to be able to feed your child in public. Good luck!

Brandi - posted on 04/28/2010

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I was very uncomfortable feeding my little boy in public and I would use a "hooter hider" to begin with...then I started going to La Leche league meetings and started getting comfortable feeding him without the hooter hider...whenever I go out now, I don't use the hooter hider - when I start to feel uncomfortable or like people are staring, I just look down at my little boy and concentrate on the joys of breastfeeding him...also, now that he's a year old, he won't stay covered up anyways (hasn't since around 6 months).

Brittani - posted on 04/24/2010

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I breastfed for a little while, and trust me I know how u feel. When I was at home feeding, it seemed like there was always someone around. Cover him up with a blanket, and just let your self think that he's sleeping, or go into the bathroom. If you need to be alone there's no shame in that.

Catherine - posted on 04/12/2010

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Hahaha yes! But then I ask my husband if people are looking at me and he says no. I think it's all in our heads and we just need to realise that. The other aspect to this is, we do it so we notice other women doing it and therefore get the idea that everyone notices. But when you think about it, how many people do you actually pay so close attention to when out and about that you can tell what they're doing? Probably not many! Also, there are things like hooter hiders (awesome name I know) if you want to hide even more. I find that the baby gets hot in it though.

Allison - posted on 03/12/2010

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I definitely felt uncomfortable nursing in public at first, so I used a "hooter hider" which worked great. Maybe like you, I was embarassed to use my "Hooter Hider" in front of my other earthy, homebirth mom friends. But with my family and in-laws, I was extremely modest and covered up because they felt uncomfortable and so did I. Mostly I was embarassed about my new flabby tummy hanging out, but was never organized enough to buy special nursing tops, etc. Anyway, the "hooter hider" is lightweight and open on the top, so you can see baby and he can see you.



After 6 months or so he really didn't want to be covered up, and so little by little I got used to nursing in public without covering up. After a year of nursing, I felt fine feeding uncovered everywhere; the immodesty bugged my mom, lol :) Anyway, after about 2 years he wasn't nursing during the day or on outings, anyway, and then I kind of missed it!

Tessa - posted on 03/11/2010

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I feel that it's the people with issues towards breast feeding that will stare or look inappropriatley. To which I'm quite happy to glare or give an ear bashing. Hell hath no fury like a mother scorned.
I am of the mind that it is not a sexual display so I have no reason to feel ashamed, but rather am proud that I can feed my daughter as soon as I need to. Modesty and my slightly larger breasts do not accompany each other unfortunately.

The other day I was waiting in the supermarket checkout aisle when our new bub decided she wanted a feed right there and then. I hesitated for a minute because I had no one to hold the items in my hand. Luckily my aunty appeared by my side magically and was able to hold my shopping for me while I breastfed our lil girl right there :D

I have had a couple male friends ask if they're allowed to look at the baby when I'm feeding to which I had a laugh because being mates and I'm like "one of the boys", I know that my boobs would turn them off anyways :p

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there probably are eyes on you - but you have to focus and not care! i breastfed my babies anywhere i was, literally. restaurants, malls, playground, you name it. i never shunned myself and my baby to the bathroom to nurse. with practice you'll become a pro at doing it very quickly and without showing skin. when i got looks i just gave them the biggest smile back! i wanted people to know i was ashamed to feed my child.

Kelly - posted on 12/28/2009

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The more I breastfeed in public, the more comfortable I feel. I just got back from air travel over the holidays and listened to mom's struggle with bottles on the plane trying to soothe their babies while mine sat quite content on the breast. I think you would be hard pressed to find someone that prefers a screaming baby to a quiet baby on the breast!

Chelsea - posted on 12/06/2009

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for the first month or two i would go to dressing rooms, or my car to nurse my daughter but i got tired of sitting by myself for a hakf hourso i started continueing what i was doing and covering with a receiving blanket, my husband was unconfortabke with it so i was too but then i got use to it and didnt care so much

Anna - posted on 12/05/2009

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I would try EFT about feeling dirty and drawing attention to yourself. Its an emotion clearing/freeing tequnique using the underlying pricipals of accupressure. I've used it TONS on all kinds of different emotions. Check out emofree.com to learn more, its absolutely free.
MarthaLynn,
I like what you said!
My view on being in publilc is probably in influenced by my mom, who breastfed all of us...my youngest bros well into 2nd or 3rd year.
I say tough (in my mind, I'm not a confrontational person). I go to churches, one very formal one where practically ALL the women go back in the room with the window...I 'm sorry, but most the time I don't like to miss the service by getting caught up talking back there. Other fellowships have this nursing shawl thing, kind of an extention of the draped blanket...well each to his(her) own...I had already descided that the draped blanket thing wasn't for me. If you don't do it from the beginning, as in train them to be ok with it and do it 100% of the time..it DON'T work! I felt it makes them sweat needlessly, and was a big hassel to me.
I usually just make sure I wear a shirt that is loose enough to cover up with.
[The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding had a good point of nursing in front of a mirror so you get an idea of how modest you are. I know I have fallen short on a few occasions because of a cranky, squirmy baby, but I do try to be modest. There have been a couple times I was asked if someone (male) could look at the baby, and I had to inform them that I was feeding at the moment...they couldn't tell.]
It makes me really smile to see a mother feeding her baby in public!

MarthaLynn - posted on 12/02/2009

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Feed him in the bathroom. Sorry, just kidding. Actually, I got into it with the manager at a restaurant in Savannah, GA, because he said some folks were complaining that I was breastfeeding. I went through the roof when he asked me to feed my son in the bathroom. I asked him if he fed his kids in the bathroom, and was he aware that it is a federal law that allows me to breastfeed my child anywhere I allowed to be with him...? He backed off. Actually, arming yourself with the knowledge of your rights is very empowering. My husband was also a great help. He stood up and gave the guy a firm talking-to. Support is vital. The guy was almost crying when we left (and I got our food for free!). As far as coverage goes, in the winter it's nice to wear knit tops with a camisole underneath. This way you can pull the top up and the cami down and you're covered all the time. Check out some nursing tops online, too. Hope this helps!

Megan - posted on 12/01/2009

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Ive used like a think muslin wrap to drape over him but he hates being hidden he likes to look around while Im feeding him so he rips it down and always pulls off. So its kind of hard .

Chloe - posted on 11/30/2009

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Hey Megan :) i used to feel like this when Summer was born but 2yrs later i just got over it because i just thought if my children need feeding im going to feed them whenever & wherever i am because thats just 1 of the great things about breastfeeding. I do agree that some people are looking bcos they think its nice - if i see it i look and think 'aww how beautiful' but there are also some people who don't agree with doing it in public so its horrible people have to feel this way about something so natural.
Slings & wraps are great, if u wantt any information on them ive got loads.

Anna - posted on 11/30/2009

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Use a sling for your baby carrier. It is quite discreet and you feel more covered. There are the ring sling types which have some extra fabric you can drape over yourself, or the moby wrap style that you can use in a lot of different ways. Otherwise you can get in the habit of wearing a nice scarf that you can drape.

Personally, I am fully in favour of women breastfeeding wherever they like but it can feel weird getting your breast out in public. We are taught to think of breasts as sexual objects designed to get men's attention but as a mother, you have to retrain your mind to think of your breast as a loving nurturing thing for your child. If people stare, I stare back at them. I'm not going to let rude people get in the way of me taking care of my baby.

But also, sometimes people are looking because they think it's beautiful, not because they are being pervy or disapproving. Hope you work it out :)

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