Most nursing mothers are usually nervous about unbuttoning their blouses or tops in public. Some find it almost a taboo and would rather have a crying, restless baby than breastfeed when surrounded by people. Breastfeeding in public can pose an awkward moment to a nursing mother because of fear of ridicule by others; and also the fact that many women are not comfortable exposing their breasts in public and particularly at such a time when the breasts are a bit bigger in size.

But it is important to note that you are feeding your baby and are not doing anything inappropriate. Some of the benefits of breastfeeding your child include giving him the perfect amount of feed which is easier to digest than formula milk; he also gets antibodies from breast milk which will help him fight off infections; and the milk is always available, free and comes at the right temperature.

Breastfeeding is also a bonding time for the mother and her child. It is sometimes inevitable to breastfeed your child in public. The following tips will help you nurse your baby confidently and confidentially even when in public.

Dress for nursing success. Do not put on dresses unless they have a wrap style or are open from the front. Instead, wear a two fit outfit comprising of a blouse that has buttons from top to bottom which you can easily open, or a top that has hidden flaps which will give your baby easier access to his feed and grant you more privacy.

Cover yourself. Put a light blanket or a shawl over your shoulders so that it drapes over your baby’s head. If you are comfortable wearing a sling, let the baby nurse from there and the excess material can be used to cover yourself up.

Prepare before leaving the house. For confidence purposes, have your baby latch on while you watch before leaving the house. That way you will see how much exposure you are getting. You could even ask your partner to observe you. If you are not comfortable with a full front vie, you can turn to the side until you find what angle works best.

Check out for the best places to nurse. In a restaurant, for example, an out-of-the-way table is better than sitting where every one else is passing. You could also choose a quiet corner or a dressing room if there is provision for that. Most churches nowadays have a mother’s room where you can join other mothers to nurse your children as you follow the service.

Do not let your baby go so hungry that he starts to fuss and cry. It helps to breastfeed your baby before he becomes fussy so that you have time to get into a comfortable place or position to feed. Over time, you will learn your baby’s early hunger cues. Most of all, it is important to remember that you are meeting your baby’s needs and you should not be shy about breastfeeding in public. It isn’t possible to stay home all the time and you should feel free to feed your baby while out and about. You should be proud of your commitment to give the best care for your child and letting him breastfeed for at least six months of his life sets him up for a healthy future.

When it comes to breastfeeding, confidence is key — the more you do it, the less self-conscious you become.

Published in July 2013