Confidence is the best outfit.
You've just spent so many months carrying bubs in your tummy, possibly spent hours in labour and gave birth to this lovely bundle of joy, whom you are now giving all this love to! You deserve to be proud so OWN IT!
It is such a privilege to be able to provide nourishment and care for your child, and regardless of whether you are doing that from the breast or the bottle, there is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. You go, mum!
When you are breastfeeding outside, you may come across people who feel uncomfortable about what you are doing, and who may confront you about it, or treat you unfavourably because of it. While we all hope this will never happen to us, it will really help your confidence to be prepared in the event it does. Read up on your breastfeeding rights and don't get bullied by those that may not understand. Plan your response and do it with a smile. Remember, it's usually not personal - people are just misinformed. Education is key. It is an offence under Australian law to discriminate against a breastfeeding mother or her baby. There are anti-discrimination bodies to protect the rights of a breastfeeding mother. You can find more information about this at the Australian Human Rights Commission website. It is worth knowing your rights just in case you need to gently remind anyone who might be treating you less favourably because you are breastfeeding.
You could in theory fry an egg in your toaster oven, but using a pan on the stove top is far less messy, and makes a heap more sense. Similarly, wearing well designed clothes made specifically for breastfeeding will make for a much better experience by removing much of the hassle, leaving you free to you focus on what is important - giving baby the attention and nutrition they need. Invest in a quality wardrobe of breastfeeding friendly tops and dresses that not only make you feel good about how you look, but also work well with you when you are feeding bubs. Everyone has different preferences - be it snap buttons, zip across, zip down, side access or pull aside. Find what works for best for you, with a mechanism you can operate easily with minimal fuss, just so you have one less thing to worry about when trying to feed a hungry baby.
Bonus tip: If modesty is a concern and baby does not like to use a breastfeeding cover, you might like those with discreet nursing access. These nifty designs cover your belly as well as the top of your chest, leaving a gap just big enough for baby to latch on. Wearing those, I've managed to pull off entire one to one conversations while feeding my kids, with the other person just a couple of feet away and completely unaware of what was going on.
Scarves are great for spicing up a basic outfit, but they also come in very handy for a breastfeeding mum, as we found out first hand during some logistical emergencies of our own. Forgotten to pack your breastfeeding cover? If you have a broad scarf handy, it doubles up as a breastfeeding cover just fine. And if baby prefers to look around while feeding, or simply doesn't like being covered up, you can just scrunch the scarf up and cover the top part of your chest.
Bonus tip #1: Underestimated the weather and baby's feeling a bit chilly? Scarves also make great blankets for little ones.
Bonus tip #2: Too warm and sunny for a scarf? A broad-brimmed sun hat over baby makes a great cover too, and might also help if baby hates having blankets over their face.
Nervous about heading out with bubs for the first time? Rehearsing at home beforehand can really boost your confidence in knowing what to do when you're out. It's a great chance to work out how to use that chic breastfeeding top you've just bought, how to get baby into position and so on, all in the comfort and safety of your own home. It's helpful to have a full-length mirror out so you can see what you look like while you feed. You might be pleasantly surprised to see that you're not actually exposing much of your chest - baby's head usually covers most of it!
Practiced at home and still not quite feeling up to heading out? Take it a step at a time. Find a quieter place such as a mother's group or cafe with another mother for your first few outings. Take your time to work your way to being confident in feeding in more crowded places, and before you know it, you'll be back enjoying your favourite Saturday afternoon hangout at the mall with bubs in tow.
Knowing that you have everything you need with you, frees you up to enjoy your time out. Pack your nappy bag with all that you need for breastfeeding - burp cloths, nursing cover (if you use one), face washers, breast pads, wet wipes, etc. Ensure that they are easy to find as you might be looking for them in the midst of baby's cries.
It's also worth thinking ahead about where you'll have your outing. Are there baby change facilities? Feeding rooms? Does the cafe have ample high chairs? If going outdoors, will there be adequate shelter from the elements? A little research can go a long way to having a great day out with bubs. Don't be shy to ask other breastfeeding mothers for recommendations for baby-friendly cafes, parks and shopping centres. Mums know what you're going through, as they've been there before, and most will gladly help you with tips on where to go.
Blunders happen. I've lost count of the times I've flashed a boob by accident, or the number of times my kids threw up all over me mid-feed. Things get out of control sometimes, and that's just part of it all. Take it in your stride, and try to see the funny side of it - one day you might look back at "that time when..." with fondness and a laugh. Whatever it is, don't be hard on yourself. Motherhood is a journey of new experiences so go slow and be patient with yourself in getting used to feeding in public. Remind yourself that it gets better and easier as you go along!
That's it for now! We really hope this helps you in your journey to getting back into the outside world with your precious one. Be confident, and celebrate the beautiful new relationship you have with baby. Also, remember you can inspire others too! When other mothers see you feeding in public, might just give them the confidence to give it a go themselves. Be confident and give them a smile as they walkpast - you never know who's life you might change for the better!
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