As detailed in this article about public breastfeeding, Canada, along with many other places in the world, protects mothers’ rights to breastfeed in public. That said, discrimination does still exists, and not all women are comfortable breastfeeding in front of others.
For those women looking for a few hints or tips, I’ve got a few suggestions:
- If you are at all apprehensive about the idea of public breastfeeding, you might want to wait on doing it until you are good and comfortable with breastfeeding itself (i.e., you’ve got any major latch problems solved; breastfeeding is going smoothly for you and baby).
- Get your clothing situation worked out (i.e., wear a bra and shirt that works well for breastfeeding), so that when you are at the shopping center, restaurant or wherever it is that you will be feeding, you can get your baby to the breast with relative ease.
- If you are concerned about modesty, bring along a blanket or nursing cover for a bit of extra privacy. Also, find a place to feed that feels comfortable and is relatively quiet, perhaps a bit set off from the activity of your surroundings.
On a side note, I’ve noticed that in my hometown (Calgary, Canada), more and more shopping centres are putting in “mother’s rooms.” These rooms are usually located near/at the washroom area, but are a separate room equipped with rocking chairs, changing stations, a few toys, etc.
Rest assured that you never have to go into the bathroom to feed your baby — don’t let anyone let you think you do! Remember that wherever you live, your right to public breastfeeding may very well be protected by law.
- If you are apprehensive or unsure about how it will go the first few times, call on a friend or a family member to join you on your outing. They can be a great help — not only to assist with any logistics, but also to keep you entertained while you are feeding.
- When you are actually in the midst of feeding your baby, set your gaze in a way that feels comfortable for you.
Remember that it is still uncomfortable for a lot of people to see a woman breastfeeding — they are not sure where to look or how to direct their gaze.
Although it’s certainly not your responsibility to alter your behavior in any way to try to make them comfortable, it is my belief that most people do want to be supportive — it’s just that this whole “seeing a woman breastfeed” thing is new for them too. That’s where I find a smile can be nice for both parties — it’s a gesture that is both kind and disarming.
Equally as important, don’t feel like you have to breastfeed in public if you don’t want to. If you are opposed to the idea — either because you are uncomfortable or because you don’t believe in it — don’t force it. Pack a bottle of expressed milk (or formula) and feed baby that way when you are out in public.
To all the mothers who are working through the experience of public breastfeeding, please take a moment to share your thoughts, experiences, and tips with us.
Do you have a story to tell or some advice to give about your experiences with feeding in public? Please share!