Being the provider of nourishment for your child is one of, if not the most, fulfilling experiences in the journey of motherhood. Not only does breastfeeding give sustenance to a growing child, it is also an effective bonding experience. The entire process has a calming and steadying effect for both mother and child. I remember that nursing my daughter was the highlight of my day, especially when I already had to go back to work from maternity leave. After several hours of being preoccupied with occupational stuff, I always looked forward to holding my baby and kissing her head, while she latches until she fell asleep sated.
But what if the breastfeeding experience becomes awkward or “challenging”? This bonding between a mom and her baby usually happens in the comforts of a bedroom or inside the house. However, there will be instances during those several months that you and your baby need to go outside for more than 2 hours and nursing may be necessary. So, breastfeeding in public is inevitable and it need not be a grueling experience.
Always remember that as a mother, you have the right to feed your child when necessary. This means that you can breastfeed anywhere, without embarrassment and discrimination. It is never scandalous or indecent to feed one’s child with the best source of nutrition when he or she needs it. It takes a bit of time before a woman gets the hang of nursing in public, and the period varies from one person to another. I myself took several weeks. I initially used a nursing cover or the baby sling to be more at ease; but after several excursions, my daughter and I did not look for breastfeeding stations anymore just to nurse in peace. I was nursing her on demand, even while at mass or while waiting at a station for public transport. Here are several tips to help you do it like a pro:
1. Make a decision. It helps to have the right mindset before beginning any endeavor. So when it comes to breastfeeding, especially even when stepping out of the house, firmly hold on to the fact that you are committed to giving the best nourishment for your child at this period of his or her life. In between sore nipples and backaches, the conscious choice will see you through.
2. Prepare. Before any trip, pack all the stuff you need (without overdoing it!). Aside from a cover that you think may be needed, bring water to replenish your stores and a small pillow to rest your arm on or to anchor your baby’s head for a better latch. A book that you can read may also be handy to break the monotony while waiting for your baby to be satisfied. Also try practicing in front of a mirror first to see how the nursing process will seem to an onlooker, especially if you still feel self-conscious to nurse in public. You may actually realize that once your baby is latched, there will only be a little part of your skin that may be visible.
3. Dress for the part. Wear comfortable clothing, which may allow easy access for your baby to your breast. Nursing clothes may not be the only option. Layering a tank top with a shirt or cardigan or having a scarf are some viable choices that provide access and enough cloth that covers body parts.
4. Savor the moment. You can make good memories by appreciating the bonding time that nursing allows you and your child to have. Choose a spot outdoors that you think will give both of you some peace. After all, no one relishes disturbances while eating. As for me, the quiet times I had when feeding my baby then gave me opportunities to be introspective and also recall fond childhood memories that I had (with my parents).
5. Smile and stand your ground. After choosing a spot, remain there until your baby is sated. For people who may send icy stares or those who ask you to leave, show them your smile. But also be prepared to convey that nursing is the best and most natural option to feed a baby. Know your rights and do not be bullied to transfer to another area or cover up more.
These days, not only are moms supported by laws and advocacy groups to provide liquid gold for their infants or toddlers. Breast milk is recommended by experts to be given exclusively to babies for the first 6 months of life and may be continued with complimentary feeding up to 2 years of age. There is also numerous merchandise that was created for every conceivable need that may arise while breastfeeding, even outside the home. Moreover, public establishments and institutions are already complying with the government’s directive of having lactation stations. I daresay, now is the best time to breastfeed in public more than ever!