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Breast feeding in public - support and encouragement please

(53 Posts)
gertrudestein Fri 02-Aug-13 02:08:02

I have a 2 wk old ds and we are starting to venture outside. So far I've fed him (he is ebf) in the midwife's office and in a very private spot in a park. Have also done it in front of friends and relatives at home. But I am really scared of doing it 'properly' in public - ie in a cafe or a restaurant.

I'm doing the 2 vest thing so feel fairy covered up once he's latched on, but can't get the hang of using a scarf to cover the latching on moments - so basically j have to wave my nipple around a bit to begin with. I would have been fine with that but have had a couple of confidence destroying conversations with friends who think that's offensive/ outrageous/ funny. I know it's not of course, but I just want to be discreet and not draw attention to myself

(One - childless - friend helpfully suggested I should latch him on in the toilet then come back into public to finish feeding him. Another, who has a ds, screamed 'I can see a nipple!!!!' when I was tentatively practising in front of her at home ... There have been more. It makes me want to cry)

Does anyone have any tips for how to breastfeed discreetly in public, what kind of reactions I can expect, , and how to build your confidence?


RoadToTuapeka Fri 02-Aug-13 02:30:39

Well done you for wanting to make it work. And Shane on your friends who think it's funny to make comments as they have done.

The first time I bf in public I was terrified the whole cafe would turn around and gasp in horror. In fact despite fussing from DS1 no-one batted an eyelid. People generally try to look like they are not looking and you can be sure most people will be inwardly supporting you!

I generally have a muslin or cloth handy to fling over one side, often just the illusion of more privacy but makes me feel better - esp when babies get to the nosy stage and pull away noisily for a good kook around (sometimes un-noticed by you) ABC then latch back on usually with a snort or noise.

First few times I went out with other mums - comfort in company even if they are not feeding as same time as you. On your own, if cafe or something (i tried to pick department store cafes, m& etc as all bf friendly but most are fine about it. Pick a comfy spot - I usually aimed for a corner spot, angled myself away from most people, got a paper or phone out (so you can busy yourself if you feel more comfortable like that), and enjoy a cake and drink!

On occasion when DS1 and then 2 made a scene (reflux) so lots of wailing back arching etc - not always but invariably in busy places) people might glance but it will usually be sympathetic not mean glaring - just give them a cuddle, chat to them, remain outwardly calm, and try again in a few minutes.

And don't ever feel like you must go and latch on or feed in a toilet! No-one else is drinking their coffee I'm there and not should you or the baby. Plus, how odd would you feel walking a baby across from loos to your seat; mine would unlatch or I would trip over a chair or something even more scene creating than feeding a baby!

Best of luck with it. Really, don't worry about what other people think, and other people see less than you think! Even if a bit if boob is exposed you are hardly pole dancing & better a happy fed baby than offend anyone else's over-sensitivities.

gertrudestein Fri 02-Aug-13 04:26:40

Thank you! Those are all really good tips - I'm sure no one judges or thinks anything harsh, but it's so nerve wracking to begin with isn't it ?

MummyWeatherwax Fri 02-Aug-13 04:38:39

Congratulations on your lovely new baby!
Your friends sound distinctly unhelpful.
I was nervous about public feeding early on too. I found it really useful to be with other BFing mums the first couple of times, so maybe try a BFing cafe/group to help build your confidence.

The other thing I've noticed is that really, no-one cares! Most people are going about in their own bubble, and don't look twice at a baby apparently lying in mums lap. Others might look and go 'aww, snuggly cut baby'. Most though, if they notice at all, look away to give you privacy. Ten months in, and I've never had a negative look or comment. Rather I've had lots of people go out of their way to be helpful - an air steward bringing me extra water because he knew I'd be thirsty, a waiter taking my meal and popping it under the heater to keep it warm, I can think of lots of examples.

Also, although I prefer to avoid visible nipple, I kind of psyche myself up, ie I imagine how annoyed I'd be if anyone told a friend of mine to put it away, to remind myself it is always acceptable to feed a baby!

Good luck!

MummyWeatherwax Fri 02-Aug-13 04:39:31

Cute baby, not cut baby shock

Wishfulmakeupping Fri 02-Aug-13 04:40:10

Sounds like you are doing fab so far OP. honestly people don't notice very much. The 2 top system works well for me and my dd most people just think I'm cuddling her smile

gertrudestein Fri 02-Aug-13 05:10:04

Thanks everyone - I was quite shocked by my friends' reactions, as I would never have thought those things even before I had ds, so I was beginning to wonder if the world was a lot more judgmental than I'd imagined. It's really nice to reaad your words of encouragement.

weatherwax, how do you avoud a visible nipple? Is it by using a scarf? If so, do you have to learn how to get the baby to latch on without looking?

IsThatTrue Fri 02-Aug-13 05:10:25

Congratulations. I've never really had anybody notice me feeding DS in public and we've done it all over the place. Don't put too much emphasis on 'being discreet' while latching. I've never managed it, and he's 8mo now! Lol. The best way I've found is to just latch as quickly as I can.

Tbh I think you've already had the worst of it from your friends! shock nobody is going to shout 'I can see a nipple' at you and if they did everyone would think them batshitcrazy

LoveBeingItsABoy Fri 02-Aug-13 05:21:07

Friends really are worse than anyone in public - you can say things to friends you would never say to a stranger.

I have bf two for 18 mnths plus combined and never had a negative comment or look. I've also had a few friends who have bf and have never witnessed anything towards then either.

Is there a bf cafe/support group near you? That's a great place to build your confidence cause everyone else is doing/has the same concerns.

Advice for when out, if you want to cover up, before picking up the baby tuck the corner of a muslin into your top under your bra strap is good, on the side the baby will be laying. When you've picked baby up you can bring it around baby so the the cloth is over them and right around TGIF head, latch on and if you prefer you can tuck the end into the other side of your top. It's like a tent but you can see down.

If you latch baby on whilt looking in a mirror you will see there is very little to see. Once you start looking there are lots of discrete places to sit in cages etc

You will be fine, just have some confidence

MummyWeatherwax Fri 02-Aug-13 05:35:29

I'm rubbish at using scarves/ muslins, I find them a real gaff, that draw way more attention than a bit of boobage. I usually use DDs head as the nip cover! I get her into position, then get boob out, slip my pad off then her on. Then at the end, as she comes off, pad back on, into bra, done.

I could never see to get her latched under a scarf or such, and ended up flashing way more when she grabbed the scarf!

evelynj Fri 02-Aug-13 05:44:45


Just to echo what everyone else has said. Idiotfriend who could see nipple was obviously actively looking for it & anyone at any distance won't see much as you'll have your hand around nipple & baby's head in front of it.

I'm also nervous about this-2 week old myself & with DS was in a big city-no problem feeding there but now back home in small town mentality backward place so am sterling myself for unhelpful comments by thinking of retorts in advance of first time. IfI didn't have something scripted to say I'd probably just cry but if I'm semi prepRed for battle I'll feel stronger. Not actually got anything prepared yet so if anyone has Any witty comebacks I'd love to hear them.

If I saw anyone being less than supportive of a bf mum I'd be quite vocal about it-it's just harder to have the confidence when it's yourself but it's a really important thing to do. I have massive boobs which IMO makes it a lot harder to be discreet as I have to hoik them about to get baby feeding!

Good luck!

enjay0811 Fri 02-Aug-13 05:49:47

I do exactly the same as lovebeingitsaboy with a muslin. A scarf works really well too! If you're out and about with the pram/pushchair, that works wonders as a 'screen' to get baby latched on too. I've found if anyone is embarrassed by it, they look away and leave you to it or usually the little old ladies or Mums give a smile and 'aww'. Kids are the worst imo, esp my 3 yr old - pulling the muslin off to have a look or shouting out 'is F having booby milk mummy?!!!' ;-)

redcaryellowcar Fri 02-Aug-13 05:59:28

congratulations on your lovely baby, sorry that your friends aren't being terribly supportive!
I think as others say people really don't notice and if they do look they are really admiring a gorgeous little baby and often don't realise you are feeding them.
I used to have a few feeding/ nursing tops from h&m, they sort of have a flap you can open up to feed your baby, two top system works just as well. I would then unhook my bra and get boob out under top, then pick up ds and bring him towards boob then flap top down at last minute therefore minimising 'display' time!
I think you will find it takes a couple of weeks to get it and I distinctly remember by 4 weeks that I felt like a bf pro, I think your baby also learns the drill and will become super efficient about latching on and in two weeks this will be so smooth you will barely notice yourself!

Flossie82 Fri 02-Aug-13 06:09:52

Not much to add, but it is one of those things where the thinking abut it before doing it is worse than doing it. Once you've done it a couple of times you will be fine! Good luck

FadBook Fri 02-Aug-13 06:11:21

Lots of great advice so far.

Practice in front of a mirror at home. You really can't see a lot from a straight on angle smile but as you're looking down you think your massively on show.

Ditto on finding a breastfeeding group, that will boost confidence feeding in front of other mums feeding.

Then find a bf cafe / shop that encourage /support it. I always found m&s and costa were supportive. Take DP/DH or a very good friend to 'get your back' - you need to feel totally supported by the person with you.

A local peer supporter may meet you. If I was in your area, I'd meet you for coffee smile


Facelikeafriendlyapple Fri 02-Aug-13 06:36:33

I've become absurdly blase about flashing my nips getting my LO fed. Agree taking your partner or fellow bf mum friend with you the first few times is good for building confidence. But now I'm 6 months in I just think that there's lots worse than a brief glimpse of boob in the world and everyone else can just jog on if they are in some way offended. I've fed in cafes, on trains, on the bus, in front of my IL... Never had a comment yet.

Good luck! And enjoy your LO

justnapping Fri 02-Aug-13 06:53:52

I bought a breastfeeding apron, less than a tenner from eBay. It's sort of like a cooking apron but it has an opening at the top that is easy for you to look down and check baby is ok. I fed my DS constantly for 5 months and I used this when I was around grandads/DH's friends and it worked really well.
Rest of the time the vest and floaty top worked really well, honestly you'll get so practised and confident that no-one will see anything, plus you won't really care!
Good luck!!

leonardofquirm Fri 02-Aug-13 06:54:13

Congratulations. smile smile

I find that if I reach under and have the bra and vest down first, then just lift my top a wee bit with baby's head as close as possible to the boob already I feel comfiest.

You are doing great - I didn't feed my first in public till he was 10 weeks old. blush

GiraffesAndButterflies Fri 02-Aug-13 07:12:03

Lots of good advice here, I agree with all of it!

When you do go for it, stay focused on baby. Don't look up thinking 'omg people are looking' - they won't be. But if you start looking around then that will attract people's notice more (the way you look back/ make eye contact with someone who's looking at you iykwim?) and that will make you more nervous. Stay in your bubble till he's latched on and you're both happy.

Being a bit negative, but be aware that the environment may put baby off if he's not used to it- so have in mind what you'll do then (eg button up, stand up and soothe baby, then sit back and try again). Just to help you stay calm in case it does happen.

Notice how many of the tips here are about making you feel better rather than anyone around you- really the vast majority of the general public doesn't care. And the rest are admiring your baby smile congrats btw! flowers

Sizzlesthedog Fri 02-Aug-13 07:28:14

your friends are not being that supportive and that will really shake your confidence. I don't think people notice a baby feeding but notice a screaming one!

Have you got a bf group near you, great to practise in "public" in a group were everyone else is the same. Makes you feel more relaxed. I was at a baby cafe sitting next to a mother bf and I didn't even notice what she was doing.

I have never had any negative comments while bf in public and I have big boobs and was not v discreet! I did use my baby to cover what was going on.

Congratulations flowers

AidanTheRevengeNinja Fri 02-Aug-13 07:58:39

I have come to realise that nobody cares. Really, they don't. They do, however, care about noisy hungry screaming babies ruining their nice meal/coffee, so if they do happen to notice you breastfeeding they will just be grateful and carry on grin

gertrudestein Fri 02-Aug-13 08:15:00

Aw, thanks everyone - I feel more confident already. Good point about nobody noticing a quiet, feeding baby but everyone noticing a loud, hungry one! There's a breastfeeding group I've heard about so perhaps I will go there to ease myself in gently.

evelyn good luck with bfing in your new location - the only reply I can think of is 'its legal for me to breast feed my baby anywhere in public, and illegal for you to stop me' which is factually true but not very witty! Perhaps you could say 'would you rather I left him to scream through the rest of your meal?'

MonstersDontCry Fri 02-Aug-13 08:27:31

I've never worked out how to hide the nipple while latching on so I just try not to think about it. Not much help, I'm
Sorry! Maybe if you're with someone else, you could get them to block your view of anyone else just while you latch on. Or position your pram in front of you so no one can see?

I was always terrified of feeding DD in public but this time round, ive been feeding DS everywhere and anywhere. Our babies need to eat, it's nothing to be ashamed of. Your friends are the ones who should be ashamed! I can't believe they would be so immature to shout 'I can see a nipple!' at you.

Good luck and seriously try not to worry. One day you won't care about this I promise! smile

MonstersDontCry Fri 02-Aug-13 08:29:08

And definitely have a 'practice' at the bf'ing group if you can.

ChunkyPickle Fri 02-Aug-13 08:31:48

You know what, the very first time I fed DS out of the house (in a restaurant) I did latch on in the toilet (I'd taken him for a change) and then carry him out already feeding (in a mei tai). When the waitress saw what I was doing she just gave a little smile, and made sure she put my drinks/food over by my free hand.

That's the reaction you will generally get - a little smile (possibly recoil if they peer in, realise, and don't want to embarrass you!).

You just have to get over the first couple of times and you'll be OK, just take a deep breath, keep calm, and latch him on. Chances really are that no-one will notice anyhow (and if they're staring watching you then sod them - they're the rude ones!)

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