Breastfeeding in Public: Learning to Feed with Confidence

As I started my breastfeeding journey I was worried about two things: not physically being able to do it, and breastfeeding in public. Fortunately the first worry didn’t turn it to much. I had moments where it was a real struggle – like every mum probably does – but I never questioned whether I could physically do it once I started. Breastfeeding in public, on the other hand, was still something that worried me.

breastfeeding in public
Can you even tell that I’m breastfeeding here? I don’t think someone would think twice if they saw us like this

Breastfeeding in Public: the Early Days

The early days are pretty rough; it’s a bit like living in a fog. Boob, sleep, nappy, repeat. In the early days I only ever fed freely in front of Ross, my husband. I remember being completely overwhelmed and trying to cover myself up in front of the midwife and health visitor and being really self conscious of them telling me I was doing it wrong. Luckily they always praised my latch, but it still made me nervous.

It took two weeks before we finally went somewhere public with our baby. Prior to that we had either stayed in the house or visited family. Part of that was down to the fact that the last thing I wanted to do was to breastfeed in public. I was worried about getting my boob out and people being able to see. And I was worried about someone noticing and saying something negative. I knew that most people wouldn’t care, but you still hear stories of people being poorly treated whilst breastfeeding in public.

Using a Breastfeeding Cover

When we did go out I was paranoid the entire time and would just pray that our baby didn’t want to feed. When the inevitable happened I would resort to using a breastfeeding cover. Something I would never use again. I’d never been around people who had breastfed before and assumed that this is what I’d have to do so people didn’t see anything.

Whilst I thought using a breastfeeding cover would be a great idea, it wasn’t. I drew more attention to myself, it was hot for both myself and Isabelle and it was just a complete pain in the arse if I’m honest. I didn’t have the confidence to feed without it and I was using it for the benefit of other people so they didn’t feel uncomfortable.

Learning to Feed with Confidence

One of the biggest turning points for me was attending breastfeeding support groups. Watching other mums feed their babies without you barely noticing they were doing it made me grow in confidence to be able to do the same.

One day, when I was feeding Isabelle under my cover, someone said to me that they didn’t mind me breastfeeding as I always did it under a cover. “That’s how it should be done,” they said. And that’s when I thought to myself “No, it’s not. I shouldn’t be using this cover.” So I stopped. After that single comment I never used my cover again.

Breastfeeding in public on a bus to Amsterdam
Feeding in Amsterdam – It’s not like anyone would care if they saw us like this

I knew I didn’t really need to be using it, and I was doing others a disservice by even hiding away. I shouldn’t have to hide away when I want to feed my daughter. The mums at the breastfeeding group never did, and by hiding away I wasn’t helping to promote breastfeeding or even to normalise it.

Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t suddenly start whipping my boob out all the time. I’m still quite a discreet feeder. I know some people are a lot more carefree than I am. They have absolutely no problem getting a lot more out than you’ll ever see from me. But it’s personal choice. You shouldn’t be made to do it either way. You should choose what works best for you. If you struggle to do it discreetly, or simply don’t like wearing the clothes you need to wear in order to do so, then don’t do it. If you want to wear a strapless dress and have to actually pull a boob out, then go for it!

Feed With Confidence Awards with Lansinoh

Part of the reason I’m talking about how I started to feed with confidence is because of the Lansinoh Feed with Confidence awards. They’re celebrating venues, supporters and professionals that have made a difference to a persons breastfeeding journey.

Here are the nomination categories for this years awards:

  • Feed With Confidence Venue – a place where mums can breastfeed in comfort, feeling supported and respected. It might be a cafe or a museum, a department store or a pharmacy. It’s a place that goes the extra mile to make breastfeeding possible.
  • Feed With Confidence Supporter – a friend or family member who has helped you to overcome your breastfeeding hurdles.
  • Feed With Confidence Champion – a healthcare professional who champions the cause and has made you feel breastfeeding is worthwhile.

If I ever had to nominate anyone for this it would actually be my husband. He’s been with me every single step of the way throughout my breastfeeding journey. He’s tried to promote the fathers role in breastfeeding as much as he can, he never doubted me for a second and he gave me every chance to succeed. It’s surprising how limited you become when you sit down to feed, but he’s almost always been on hand to help me out. I could probably write an entire post about how he’s helped me to be able to breastfeed, but maybe I’ll save that for another time.

If you want to nominate someone, or a venue, then you can do so at the Feed with Confidence Awards page.

As of this writing I don’t know when this breastfeeding journey will come to an end. I’m currently 15 months in with no plan on stopping any time soon. We’ve basically made the decision to allow our daughter to self wean. For all I know I’ll be doing this for another two years. I guess we’ll just have to see what happens next. All I can say is that I’m past caring what people think, I have no problem breastfeeding in public and I do it with confidence.

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Breastfeeding in Public: Learning to Feed with Confidence - this is a post all about how my wife went from an anxious mother who didn't want to breastfeed in public, to someone who did it with confidence!

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Rachel

I’m the mum behind Isablog. You probably won’t read all that much from me as I’m not exactly a ‘blogger’. But I will do the odd post when I get around to writing.

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