One of the objectives of the hashtag #NormalizeBreastfeeding is to let other people know that there’s nothing wrong or malicious when a mom breastfeeds her child in public. In case you are not aware, we have the Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Act of 2009 that aims to support nursing moms –and that includes having lactation centers in public and private establishments or institutions nationwide.
Breastfeeding itself is challenging -- what more when you’re out and about. Yes, it has its own set of challenges that are not impossible to overcome. If you’re planning to go out with your breastfed baby in tow, let this list be a heads up to you on what you should expect when you breastfeed in public – plus, we also suggest some tips to address issues and generally make it more manageable and easier for you and your baby.
1. Finding the best place or area to nurse can be tricky. Do your research. More and more malls have designated breastfeeding rooms, but they can be hard to find, crowded, or might be far from where you're going to in the mall. If there's no designated nursing or pumping place in your area, plan where you'll breastfeed before heading out.
2. People will stare at you. Yes, they just can't help it sometimes that's why where you nurse is crucial. Try breastfeeding in front of the mirror first to see how exposed you are, and adjust your position or nursing cover accordingly. Some folks could still ogle nonetheless so just ignore them.
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3. Getting that perfect latch could take longer. As you're not in the comforts of your own home, it could be more challenging to get the perfect latch. Schedule feeding breaks ahead of time when you're out with baby. Anticipate your baby’s feeding schedules, because it's even harder to latch when he's already hungry and fussy, or crying.
4. There will be leaks and spills (or sprays!). Like we said, it's trickier to nurse in public, but it's not impossible. Leaks and spills are part of breastfeeding, so ready the breast pads or muslins. Invest in good nursing bras and breastfeeding-friendly outfits to make nursing in public easier and more manageable.
5. Lots of unsolicited advice might come your way. Other people, especially fellow moms or the elderly seem to think nursing in public is an invitation to give you advice. They may be well-meaning folks but you don't have to take everything they tell you, so just nod and smile.
6. You will be told to either cover up or move. Some breastfeeding moms do cover up when asked nicely, and that's okay, but then, there are babies who don't like feeding while covered up. Remember: You have every right to breastfeed your little one on demand, wherever: in the car, at the mall, in a restaurant. Firmly and calmly state your point and tell them to move along. There's no reason to make a scene if you can help it.
7. You will also get praises and be at the receiving end of kindness. Amidst the negative comments on the hot issue of breastfeeding in public, there are occasional rays of sunshine. Fellow moms who know exactly the benefits and the sacrifices it takes to breastfeed, and do so in public as well, can give you simple gestures, like a smile or a nod, to show their support. Some would even call out people who stare and even defend your right to nurse.