Breastfeeding in public

Breastfeeding in public - Transcript

One of the most common reasons why a lot of breastfeeding women give up breastfeeding is because they feel uncomfortable feeding out in public. It’s true that if your culture is not accommodating of breastfeeding, and there’s actually a taboo in society, then this can make it even harder.

So whilst I know that some mothers are quite happy to get out and feed in public even a few days after the birth, for instance, the majority of people do take that little bit of time to build up confidence. So if you are just getting to grips with breastfeeding at the moment, build up your confidence at home first – and then it can be a lot easier when you’re feeding out in public.

As soon as you do feel confident to get out and about it can be a great thing to take somebody with you, maybe a friend or relative who can just help to boost your confidence. Of course there are different laws in different countries relating to breastfeeding, but certainly here 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.

So this means in practice 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. It’s also good to know that within this law you’re protected when it comes to breastfeeding out and about on public transport, for instance, and in parks and other open public spaces.

So although the law does allow breastfeeding practically anywhere, there are some caveats to that. One of those caveats is if there was considered to be a health and safety risk because of breastfeeding, and another such caveat is an area which is providing a service solely for men, as long as that is done within the law itself.

So I would just like to talk you through a few hints and tips that can help feeding out in public go a little more smoothly. So first of all it’s a good idea to look at the kind of clothing that you’re going to wear when you’re out and about, to make things as easy as possible for yourself – wearing separates for instance, so jumpers or t- shirts that can just be hitched up a little bit- and your baby can then feed discreetly with those items of clothing, and you might want to consider wearing layers as well – so for instance a cardigan over a blouse or a shirt. These things can really help to make a difference.

If you’re really feeling quite nervous about feeding out in public for the first time it’s a good rule of thumb to practice in front of the mirror, maybe even get a friend or partner to sit with you for reassurance. And I think it’s really encouraging to know that there are many cafes and restaurants all over the country that are taking on board breastfeeding friendly awards – so they’re really promoting breastfeeding in their areas, even although you are still protected to breastfeed anyway.

So it’s good if you can find out where these places are, and usually your health professional should be able to point you to those places. There’s also a lot of shopping malls, for instance that have mother and baby feeding areas where they are actually in private. So seek out those places if you feel more comfortable initially before you venture into the cafes.

So whilst there are certain pieces of equipment and clothing that can be bought to help you to feed out in public discreetly, it shouldn’t really be necessary. The more breastfeeding mothers feed out in public and gain confidence doing so, the more the culture will start to change positively.

Review dates, references & further resources

Review Dates

V1 published June 2017. Next review date: April 2020


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