The great thing about breastfeeding—aside from the usual ‘breast milk is best for babies’—is that the feeding equipment and supplies are pretty much pack-and-go, there’s no need for complex sterilization or preparation, and they only occupy the space in your nursing bra. But knowing that it’s the best source of nourishment and being able to feed your baby anywhere doesn’t make it easier to feed in public places. At least not at first.
Breastfeeding is the right of every mother and child. Nursing in public--NIP, for short--however, may admittedly make a lot of people uncomfortable, which is weird, considering that you see more cleavage and flesh on billboards, magazines and mall-going girls. I think, though, that people are more accommodating of breastfeeding mothers here in the Philippines than in other countries such as the United States. But don’t let your embarrassment or others’ disapproving looks or comments get in the way of NIP-ing. With some practice and a few tricks, you can nurse and people won’t even know what you’re doing.
- Get comfortable breastfeeding. Practice makes perfect—the more you breastfeed, the more at ease you’ll be doing the deed, and you’ll fumble less getting yourself unhooked and your baby latched on. If you’re comfortable, the more likely that the people around you will be also.
- Dress appropriately. Invest in good nursing bras. Not only do they give valuable support, it allows you to set up a feeding with minimal fuss, and with just one hand (important, especially if you’re holding a squirmy screamer in the other). While nursing tops are also ideal—and there are lots of fashionable ones now—you could also improvise. Wear a tube or bandeau under a low-necked top so you can easily pull down the neckline to feed. Or wear layers, so your midsection stays covered when you lift up the top layer (a tube worn over the belly could also work). You could also create two slits on an undershirt, and wear another shirt over it. Button-down tops also make feeding more accessible (some advise that you unbutton from the bottom, rather than the top, to make it more discreet). Avoid super tight, flimsy or complicated outfits.
- Be discreet. While you do have the right to NIP, do be considerate of others’ sensibilities as well. Try not to flash any more flesh than necessary, and don’t call attention to yourself or what you’re doing (which goes back to being comfortable with nursing in general).
- Pick a good location. Some malls have nursing stations. Try to look for a quiet spot with minimal distractions and passersby. The back tables or booths in restaurants could work also (don’t forget to order something!), just keep your back to the room. During slow hours, you could ask if you could feed in a fitting room.
- Watch your body language. With your back to the main flow of people, or at least turned away, you can convey that you aren’t up for any interaction. Don’t look like your making sneaky though—it may intrigue more people! Act normally—read a magazine or book; or if you are with someone, maintain eye contact and continue your conversation (it may also help distract them from looking at your chest, if they’re new to NIP).
- Train your baby. Acrobatic antics while feeding (usually older babies or toddlers) may be cute at home, but embarrassing in public. Same goes for your baby’s other home-feeding habits like pulling your shirt all the way up, or holding onto your other breast while feeding. So try to teach your baby appropriate nursing manners, and practice these at home as well as in public.
- Cover up. In a pinch, a cloth diaper thrown over your shoulder will work, as will a towel, a shawl, jacket or sling. You can also invest in fashionable nursing covers—there is a variety available out there. The newest styles come in all sorts of designs and they allow you to view your baby while feeding.
- Plan ahead. Try to feed your baby before you go out. And when you’re already out, preempt any major meltdowns by feeding at the first signs of hunger. If possible, know which places have NIP-friendly areas.
Got any NIP tips of your own? Share it with us by leaving a comment!
Rainy Days and Mom Days occasionally receives vendor/brand sponsorships for mentioning their products and services. However, I only accept sponsorships from brands and products that do not go against any of my beliefs. This post is a partnership with Nakturnal.