It’s hard enough learning how to breastfeed in the first few weeks without the thought of having to then do it outside.
At home you have the comfort of being able to whip your boob out without wandering eyes. You don’t have to worry about what clothes to wear, where to sit, or even about putting it away after feeding.
So when S suggested going out within the first week, my first thoughts were feeding T. Would the place be breastfeeding friendly? Would I have to go outside? What would people say? I certainly wasn’t resorting to sitting in the toilet but at the same time this was completely alien to me.
At first I was nervous. Would I be skilled enough to whip it out without people noticing? What should I wear? Would T feed outside comfortably? Turns out it was easier than I realised. We still took an emergency bottle of formula, but we didn’t need it.
The first time I did it I was in a mothercare feeding room so not too daunting, but it was still an experience doing it in front of other women as well as doing it without the comforts of my cushions and pregnancy pillow. It took me a while to get comfortable, but in no time T was latched and I was sat chatting to three other ladies who were also feeding their babies. It was actually really enjoyable.
The next time I did it I was in a country pub, sat outside. This one was a little more trickier. Although I had a nursing top on, I still had to manage unhooking my nursing bra and being discreet at the same time. Thankfully, the table we were sat at was in the perfect position and I was well hidden, so well hidden in fact that the waitress didn’t notice I was feeding when she came to clear our plates.
I’ve since fed T a few times now whilst out and about. I’ve fed T in parks and cafés, as well as on a dog walk. I still sometimes prefer to feed him in the backseat of my car before we start our day out if there is literally nowhere to go but it’s not the worst place in the world.
Saying that, I do still get frustrated with myself at times when I don’t find the courage or feel comfortable feeding outside, I guess I worry there’ll be confrontation. But as someone recently said; “…every feed completed outside is a step forward. Take baby steps” and they’re right. I need to stop beating myself up.
Here are a few of my tips to feeding outside:-
Wear a suitable top. I’ve done it already, I’ve gone out in my favourite t-shirt (I haven’t worn it in 9 months!) and realised I need to feed T. Out comes the gut and spare tyre. It’s not so bad in the car or a feeding room but it’s not something I want to put on show in a café or restaurant. Try and wear a button down shirt or nursing top. A zip up hoody had also come in handy as I can zip myself up with T inside once I remove my arm from the sleeve.
Pack an extra muslin. If you’re still not confident or quick enough to whip it out before anyone notices then an extra muslin is a good way to hide everything discreetly but also send a message as to what you’re doing. A separate one to one you probably already have will mean you don’t have to have a milky/messy one sat near your nostrils.
Expect people to stare. It shouldn’t be the case but it still is, unfortunately. As long as people don’t say anything you’ll soon get used to people giving you a quick double take as you start feeding. With this in mind, it’ll help if you perhaps don’t choose to feed in somewhere like The Ritz – we all know that’ll definitely attract attention.
Power in numbers. Leading on from the above, feeding in numbers means people are unlikely to say anything anyway. You’ll also feel more confident if you’re just starting out as you can see how other mums feed.
Don’t rush. You take your time with your meal, why shouldn’t your baby? If you know a feed is due, find somewhere you’ll both be happy to stay for a while. Likewise, if you find yourself in a café make sure you take your time drinking that coffee otherwise it’ll cost you a fortune!
Get comfy. Similar to the above, find somewhere with comfy seating or a view – you’re going to be there a while. Likewise, if you’re not sure about the weather don’t plonk yourself outside!
Accessorise. No. I don’t mean putting a boob shaped hat on your baby, I’m talking about your accessories. Make the most out of the time in between feeds and whack that nipple cream on. Take extra nipple pads with you or even a spare top or bra in case spillage happens from you or baby.
Remember:- Breastfeeding is not indecent or illegal.
What are your breastfeeding-on-the-go tips?