Breastfeeding in public

One of the most common reasons for women giving up breastfeeding is because they feel uncomfortable when feeding out in public.

If your culture is not accommodating of breastfeeding and breastfeeding in public is seen as taboo in your society, then this can make it even harder.

So while some mothers are quite happy to feed in public very soon after giving birth, the majority may take extra time to build up confidence.

Some prefer to build up confidence at home first before feeding in public.

However, as soon as you DO feel confident about getting out and about, take somebody with you, maybe a friend or relative who can support you. 

All countries have slightly different laws relating to breastfeeding in public, so learn about the laws pertaining to your country.

In England and Wales, the Equality Act 2010 protects breastfeeding in public, and that law states that a business cannot discriminate against mothers who are breastfeeding a child of any age. 

In practice, this means that there should be no reason for you to be asked to leave the premises or have someone refuse to serve you because you are breastfeeding. 

Also, know that within this law, you are protected when it comes to breastfeeding out and about on public transport, in parks, and other open public spaces.

Although this law does allow breastfeeding in MOST places, there are some caveats to that.

One of those caveats is if breastfeeding might be a health and safety risk. Another such caveat is if a venue only provides a service solely for men. 

There are many hints and tips for feeding out in public.

First of all, you may want to consider wearing clothing that will make things as easy as possible for yourself.

Wear jumpers or t-shirts that are easy to lift, so your baby can then feed discreetly or wear layers e.g., wearing a cardigan over a blouse or a shirt.

These things can really help to boost your confidence when out and about.

If you are feeling quite nervous about feeding out in public for the first time, it’s a good idea to practice in front of a mirror while at home or encourage a friend or partner to sit with you in public for reassurance.

It’s encouraging to know that many cafes and restaurants are supportive of breastfeeding, and some even have breastfeeding-friendly awards.

Still, irrespective of this, it’s essential to understand that the law states that you can breastfeed anywhere.

However, it can be useful to find out where these specific breastfeeding-friendly places are.

Your health professional may be able to point you to those places. 

Many shopping malls have mother and baby feeding areas, where you can also feed in private if you wish. 

Seek out those places if that makes you feel more comfortable initially.

Many women find, once their confidence has increased that feeding out in public areas becomes more comfortable and normal. 

So while you can buy specific pieces of equipment and clothing to help you to feed out in public discreetly, it shouldn’t be necessary. 

The more breastfeeding mothers feed out in public and gain confidence, the more the culture will start to change positively.

Review dates, references & further resources

Review Dates

Version 1.1 published in March 2019. Next review date: Jan 2022

References

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