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10 top tips for breastfeeding in public

WebMD Feature
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks

If you are a breastfeeding mum, unless you want to be stuck at home for months there comes a time when you'll have to venture outside and may need to breastfeed in public.

Breastfeeding is totally natural and there's a legal right to breastfeed in a public place but even so some women can feel awkward especially at first. It's not a case of baring your boobs to the world, you can be discreet and breastfeed with minimum fuss. It just takes practice and a bit of preparation.

Here are our 10 top tips that might make it a little easier and enjoyable!

1. Only when you feel comfortable

When some women first start breastfeeding it's like a military operation. You need to be sitting in a particular chair, have not one but two pillows to lay the baby on in a specific position before they'll latch on. How could you possibly do this subtly in a cafe? In the early days when you are both getting the hang of it, you may prefer to breastfeed at home where you feel more comfortable and secure. Give it a bit of time and it'll become much easier.

2. Make an action plan

Up until now you may have been timing your visits outside just after feeds so you know you can always come back home in time for the next feed. If you want to go out for longer, maybe a day trip with a friend or to attend a wedding, you can work out when your baby is going to need a feed and plan where to be at that time. You may feel less self-conscious feeding in a cafe in front of strangers than at a big family gathering, so just do what feels most comfortable for you.

3. Pick a good place

You can legally breastfeed in any shop or restaurant or public place but you may prefer to breastfeed at first in a local cafe that you know is baby-friendly. Ask your friends or your health visitor if they can recommend anywhere and scope it out beforehand.

"Chose a public place that you are familiar with, a baby friendly cafe or the local park, rather than a private members club or a board meeting," says mum of two Rebecca Maberly who runs the website Doctor and Daughter's guide to pregnancy.

4. Practise in front of a mirror

If you are worried about showing too much boob, practise in front of a mirror at home so you can reassure yourself that you can feed discreetly. If your baby has the habit of whipping their head round and unlatching themselves you'll be able to practise covering-up swiftly.

5. What bra to wear?

You can buy nursing bras that allow you to unhook a cup at a time to give your baby access to feed. You should be able to release a cup with one hand. You may prefer to wear a normal bra and pull it up or down. You may decide to go bra-less, but many women need the support of a bra as their breasts are heavy with milk. There's also the issue of milk leakage from the other breast during feeding, so often women prefer to wear breast pads in their bra cups to soak away surplus milk.

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