Hi- and in case we haven’t met before- I am Ellie. A mother, a labor doula, and massage therapist professional. I have two boys who I was able to breastfeed. There can be mishaps and there definitely is a learning curve but when you get over that curve it can be smooth sailing. I want to share any tips I have learned and pass it on to you so your curve isn’t so steep.
And yes, women have been known to breastfeed in a bathroom before. In fact, I was told that the nursing nook was the handicap stall in one old building. I refused to nurse my baby (who would have been way too distracted by the flushing of the toilets and chatter) because of the unseen germs and smells!
So with a little research and my own experience- I present to you my 7 tips for breastfeeding in public!
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#1 Know your rightsYou have the right to breastfeed ANYWHERE. ALL 50 STATES HAVE LAWS that PROTECT you and federal laws as well.. HOW does this help you?
Knowing you have the law to back you up will give you the extra confidence to breastfeed your baby when baby is hungry, WHENever & WHERE ever!
This includes your workplace mamas. Your employers must provide you with a place to pump on your breaks. During this Covid-19 epidemic, wouldn’t that mean that during your time working at home you would be able to nurse or pump at your selected break times even during zoom meetings and phone calls? So set your schedule (your body/baby/ milk supply like schedules) and make sure you tell your boss when your breaks are and that zoom camera/ or phone will be off at these stated times! (working from home surprisingly makes you forget your breaks!)
- DID YOU KNOW? Nursing moms are exempt from Jury duty. Funny story about that one. I was on jury duty when I was about 38 weeks pregnant and was worried about going into labor on jury duty and so I called up the courthouse. The lady was super nice. It seemed there were no exemptions about being close to your due date but I could postpone it and she told me if I plan on breastfeeding that then I would be exempt. A little bonus gift to you as a breastfeeding mom- not having to worry about jury duty. I do think it is weird that being 9 months preggers didn’t count as caring for another (which is untrue since that is what you’re body is doing). However, breastfeeding is viewed that way and is the main reason you get exempted. I mean at that point in pregnancy you are just a ticking time bomb without an accurate timer and being on a jury wouldn’t be helpful as well as the swollen feet.
#2 Plan ahead
Bring water, snacking nuts/bar (easy food), nipple shields, lanolin (or other nipple creams), 70% alcohol sanitizing spray and baby wipes. Those snacks may seem trivial but boy do you get hungry when breastfeeding. At least with me. It was like I had a dinosaur living in my stomach. But that water is more important than you would think. Every time your baby drinks you need to drink. This can lower your milk supply and cause some unnecessary crying the next day (believe me, I know- what an awful day that was)
Now with Covid-19, we want to be extra careful. Spray your hands with sanitizer and wipe off with baby wipes before breastfeeding when in public. Just an extra caution.
Bring burp cloths and an extra change of clothes. Newborns especially are notorious for spitting up, and of course, there is always that chance of a blow-up diaper. (Wet bags are great for these kinds of messy clothes. Completely washable. Find some here.) It’s amazing how your bundle of joy full of coos and soft skin can produce so much yuck. Good thing they are cute, right??
Breastfeed right before you leave. So prep the diaper bag and pack the car. Go pee and then feed your baby. Then off you go with the most time possible before having to stop to feed. Remember when babies are newborn they feed so often so when you gather all your crap and buckle everyone in and drive to your first store it is about time to feed again. This way you have a little more time to get a few things in. Remember it gets easier and feedings get longer and longer apart.
Plan out some familiar spots that are along your way and errands. When you are out and about find benches and spots that are off the beaten path. When in a mall or store you can ask if there are any nursing nooks. Sometimes the spot for me was a corner of the store where I hooked my baby up while wearing him in a front baby carrier. Other times I would find a bench behind the main street where there were fewer people. Keep an eye out for out of the way spots and before you know it you will have your groove.
#3 Dress for it
THE KIND OF SUCCESS THAT WILL MAKE IT EASY AND AVAILABLE TO NURSE YOUR BABY IN
GOOD NURSING BRASupportive without wires (wires can press on breast tissue related to breastmilk).
This gives you easy access which is essential.
2 PIECE OUTFITS
T-shirts and jeans/pants; skirt and blouse; leggings with a tunic
BUTTON-UP or ZIP-UP DRESSES
NURSING DRESSES (they make dresses designed for breastfeeding)
WEAR YOUR BABY
Ring-sling, wrap, or front baby carrier such as an Ergo which makes it convenient to nurse in
BRING A NURSING COVER OR BLANKET
*WEAR THE BREAST VEST WITH YOUR OUTFIT*
It looks fashionable with your everyday attire and you are ready to breastfeed on the go. It is equipped with pockets for your essentials and with one snap you have a cover for breastfeeding in a modest way. This works over a front baby carrier (which doesn’t cover the sides of your stomach) or just on its own. For the baby that doesn’t like a cover, you have the option to snap under your chest and lift up your shirt to keep your stomach covered and your shirt can cover your breast. It is also great for full coverage which can make a little tent for your baby and protect against airborne illnesses such as Covid-19 (the coronavirus), kind of like a mask that gives some protection.
#4 State your needs
DON’T BE AFRAID TO SPEAK UP
If you are with a noisy group of people at a restaurant or other facility, ask a manager if there is a quiet spot you can breastfeed. Babies can get easily distracted and not latch when too much is going on.
I think with the power of hormones speaking up becomes easier as a mom. It definitely helped me. I felt I had a mama bear inside me ready to pounce when provoked. Yes I kept her tame for the most part.
- Did you know? My first training was for being assertive/speaking up for myself was in massage school. They made us devote six hours a week to “Skills and Dynamics of Therapeutic Relationships” where we learned boundaries and practiced being assertive. I always would get caught in something I would call being “trapped by kindness” where you feel suffocated by the duty of being kind to others, yet, at your own detriment. You know when you get talked into doing something and you feel like if you said no then you would end up being the jerk? This and I had the past where I would pass out before telling someone I needed something if it meant I would interrupt their conversation. (Yes it happened twice when I was a teenager - I know a little extreme.) I had a long way to go. The biggest epiphany that I had during that class was that I was actually being prejudice - the problem was me. Mine blown! I was so non-judgy and easy going. Me judgemental? Yes, I was judging that the other person wouldn’t be able to take it or would respond negatively to my needs which prevented me from speaking up. So I needed to give them the benefit of the doubt that they would be positive. We did role-playing in class with different scenarios that helped us out of our shells. Hey, it took a lot of practice for me, and its always a work in progress for me. So, my advice is if you are anything like me tell your loved one you need to have a practice session.
#5 Sit with a friend
SIT WITH A FRIEND OR PARTNER FOR SUPPORT
Remember to speak up from the last tip. Start with your partner and tell him you need his support to sit next to you when you nurse. If it is your friend, mother, or sister with you that day - speak up and tell them you need help. That person can create that extra barrier with you and the rest of the world creating a safe space. Tell him/her that you need their back literally! You are the only one that can feed the baby right now but there is plenty that loved ones can do to support you and by being part of this breastfeeding bit they will benefit by bonding too. Your husband would love to be part of the bonding experience and by sitting next to you he gets oxytocin during your feeding. Strange- I know. (but also so cool!) But let him know he benefits by being involved.
#6 You’re not alone
REMEMBER THAT YOUR BRAVENESS IS NORMALIZING BREASTFEEDING FOR OTHERS.
Moms everywhere are doing and have been doing it for thousands of years. You are helping the next mom have the same courage. I have done it and so has many others. What helped me is seeing breastfeeding mothers before me do it like it was no big deal. You never know what mom next you will encourage when someone sees you breastfeed. There are also groups like “La Leche League” where meetings and support are free. It helps to see and talk to an active community that supports you.
#7 Keep a positive attitude & sense of humor
To be relaxed & have a positive attitude in public may seem challenging at times. So I present to you- My Mom Hack #1 :Surrounding my ears with peaceful music can help me relax, take deeper breaths, and change my perspective. So put in your earbuds or pods and check out some relaxing music.
Why does this work? Remember that breast milk flows with oxytocin and relaxation. Having a calm heart will also help your baby to respond. It wasn’t that long ago that you and baby were in one body working together. Your good vibes will be felt to your baby.
Most people will support you. There may be a few uncomfortable people but 99% of the people out there are on your side. So focus on them. The one rude person is just uncomfortable with themselves and is a reflection of their own issues. So just remember the ones that have your back. I have your back and millions of other mamas just like you are supporting you. Remember us when you are out there doing your thing.
Laugh it off. When the tough gets going just keep on rolling in laughter. As a mom, you got to keep a sense of humor. Because things will eventually go wrong. You never know when a nipple slip will happen, or milk gets sprayed somewhere. Just roll with it. It is part of the joy of motherhood. So just on keep laughing. I can’t count how many times I have had milk leaked on my shirt. We understand. and life is just easier when you can laugh at the silly things that happen.
As another spin on focusing on the positive. Looking at your baby and no one else. Remember it is about you and your little love bug. Pretend it’s just you two (or three if you have twins) in that bubble. Letting all else fade into the background. Let that oxytocin flow.
MORE GREAT TIPS ARE WAITING FOR YOU
All tips are from a Doula/mother/massage therapist that either has used it in her experience as a professional or has studied it extensively. Evidence based birth/ breastfeeding/ mothering is her foundation for knowledge shared.
If your like me and want this blog sent to you so you can read it later or refer to it when you need it
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