Breast Feeding Away from Home
Even though breastfeeding your baby is one of the most natural functions possible, when it comes to breast feeding in public there is constant debate and everyone has their own opinion about this subject. If you were a mother in Africa or Asia, no one would give a second thought to the fact that you were breastfeeding your baby in public. The problem arises in the Western world where even though mothers are actively encouraged to breast feed their babies as long as possible, they are often made to feel uncomfortable when they have to do so away from their homes.
Some interesting facts
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies be exclusively breast fed (with no added water, juice or other foods) for the first six months of life. It supports breast feeding for the first year and beyond as long as mother and child are willing. The good news is that in the US, breast feeding has reached its highest level in 20 years as approximately 77% of new mothers breast feed, at least briefly.
Several high profile news stories, where nursing mothers have been asked to refrain from breast feeding in public by over zealous officials, may also have contributed to a changing culture that is now beginning to accommodate nursing mothers. In recent times, many protests have been mounted by breast feeding moms. “Our society still does not recognize the functional use of breasts,” says Karen Peters, executive director of the Breast Feeding Task Force of Greater Los Angels. “It only recognizes the sexual aspect”. In a 2003 survey, 43% of those questioned said they were comfortable with moms nursing in public, 30% were not while the rest were undecided. 5 years later, it is hoped that the 30% figure “against” has decreased even further.
Tips for breast feeding your baby in public
But while the debate rages on, you still have a hungry baby that needs to be fed wherever you happen to be and that may take some planning on your part if you are to feel comfortable about breast feeding in public. If you are going to be out for a few hours, consider how and where you will be able to nurse. And in terms of breast feeding length - breast feed your baby right before you leave home to give yourself as long as possible before he gets hungry again.
o Wear easy access clothing. You can even purchase specialized nursing garments with slits and openings hidden in a shirt or dress. You could try wearing an old T-shirt underneath your normal clothing in which you have previously cut openings. This means that when you unbutton or pull up your normal clothing, your body remains covered below. Use breast pads if you are likely to have milk leakage.
o You may be able to temporarily distract your baby from the urge to nurse by slipping your little finger into his mouth to suck on while you find a quite place to use for nursing.
o Find a comfortable corner if you are in a store or mall. A good place to use is a fitting room but of course ask first. If you are outside and you have a stroller with you, then lock the wheels and use it as a footrest. This will make you more comfortable and will help to block you from public view.
o Try to breast feed your baby even before he gets very hungry as crying babies attract attention to both mother and baby. It also means that he will nurse more calmly without pulling at your clothes. Have a small soft toy with you that your baby can use to occupy his hands while he nurses. There is even a special nursing necklace available which is a string of large, colorful and non toxic beads that your baby can play with while breast feeding.
o Drape a light shirt or jacket over your shoulders rather than using a blanket to cover yourself. Apart from making you both hot, a blanket just draws attention to you.
o Another way is to nurse your baby in a sling. If you turn your baby’s body towards you and bring up the padded rail to cover both of you, then it could not be easier to feed your baby.
o Public restrooms are not always the best option particularly if they are small. If you find one that has a separate seating area, then it is fine. Large department stores often have a ladies’ room with a sitting area. Some restaurants have booths rather than tables which makes it much easier for a nursing mom and her baby. Staff are usually very helpful in accommodating such requests.
Nursing in front of others can be intimidating and even embarrassing to a new mom but with a little confidence, some planning ahead, the right place and appropriate clothing, it soon becomes an easy exercise.
A nursing mom’s rights
Please remember that if you are ever given a hard time by anyone about nursing in public, stand up for your rights. Legislation that helps breast feeding mothers is spreading rapidly and in many states it is now the law that women can nurse their babies anywhere they want to. Your baby comes first and if he is hungry, you need to keep him calm, quiet, happy and fed. If you suffer from engorgment, then Healing Natural Oils offers an all natural breast engorgement treatment.
Breast feeding is the best gift that a mother can give her baby. Don’t let anyone try to take that gift away from your baby.