Breastfeeding In Public
Anytime Anywhere

Breastfeeding in Public

Breastfeeding in public is the most natural and regular thing in the world. However, it can still be challenging to a new mother or someone who doesn't have much support.

I spent more time nursing in public then doing that at home as I breastfed in quite few countries in Europe, Asia and North America.

In this article I will share with you all I know about nursing in public so it is enjoyable to you and your precious nursling. 

In This Article:

Nursing in public?
Who does that?

As I have seen a lot of women nursing in public in different countries through the years, I noticed that there are 3 main types of women who breastfeed in public:

1. Mothers, who nurse openly - they don’t cover.

2. Mothers who use breastfeeding covers, blankets, towels, their own clothing.

3. Breastfeeding mothers who nurse their children in public bathrooms, family restrooms, cars, changing rooms.

Personally, I support all 3 types of mothers, because they ARE breastfeeding. However, I really admire the mother who can pull out her breast in front of friends or total strangers to feed her baby, yet still keep a very cool, confident, caring and loving face.

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Simple tips for
Breastfeeding in Public

As every mother and child is different, it is hard to set firm rules for breastfeeding in public. Actually there are no rules. You have to learn your body and your mind, closely follow your child’s cues and develop your own breastfeeding in public journey accordingly.

The key to a successful nursing is breastfeeding on demand, whenever your child is hungry. Whether it is a supermarket or a mall, or an airplane.

However I will share few tips that helped me a lot through the years.

1. Always be confident when breastfeeding in public. When your eyes meet with other people - smile and keep nursing.  

2. Find good spots to breastfeed so you and your child would feel comfortable. Use your diaper bag to support your hand which is holding the baby. It should be as quiet as possible, in a shade, away from direct light and smoking areas.

3. Don’t wait till last minute to feed your child. Read his cues and feed him before he gets to that screaming point.

4. One of the best public nursing positions I have had with my children was in an ergo carrier. It is really convenient, especially if you travel and your flight can’t wait until your precious angel finishes his lunch. Feeding in a carrier is convenient when they are babies and it is extremely helpful when they get older and want to move around more while nursing.

5. Find the right clothing.

As said above, nursing is such a natural thing it should be done naturally too. Just pull out a breast and don’t worry about any covering or hiding it. After all, you just feed your child.

However, if you are uncomfortable doing that, there are options for you.

It made big difference in my public breastfeeding experience when I started wearing nursing bras and shirts, dresses with hidden opening for the breast. They are so discreet and convenient, you will never need a blanket or a nursing cover.

"I wear a regular or a nursing tank under a regular (more loose if possible) t-shirt, blouse, sweater. When I want to breastfeed I just pull the top shirt up so that shirt is up but kinda falling around the baby and the tank that I am wearing under is covering my tummy.

This could be done with a nursing bra with a regular stretchy or bigger tank top too. I unhook it from the top of my shirt, then I just pull it down from under my shirt. I lift up my shirt and start nursing the baby"

Nursing on the beach?

  • Pull out a breast and feed
  • Wear a thin t-shirt over
  • Wear a special nursing swimsuit

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How to breastfeed older child in public?

While it was quite easy to nurse my newborn in public, it can get really challenging to nurse my 15 months old son who is literally doing aerobics while nursing.

I think a lot of women can relate to the situation when your child changes 15 positions during 5 minutes of his nursing session.

There are 2 things that can help you to breastfeed older child in public:

1. My best tip to nurse an active child in public is to keep him in a sling or ergo carrier.

It is by far the best solution I had with both of my children.

When in a carrier the child won’t be able to move around so much, he would be more focused on the breast, he would feel calmer and most of the time will take a short nap.


2. Toddlers touch everything. They get busy with their hands while nursing too. Try to hold the busy hand playfully or wear a nursing necklace.

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Good spots to breastfeed
outside the home

When your child is screaming because he is hungry there is no time to find a good spot. You just start nursing there and then.

In fact, you can breastfeed anywhere you go. It is the matter of how you make yourself and your child comfortable in that particular location.

  • grocery store
  • shopping mall
  • post office
  • bookstore
  • cafe/restaurant
  • doctor’s office
  • church
  • park
  • airplane, train, car, bus
  • beach

Some babies are very sensitive to noise, so feeding your child on a bench in a crowded mall won’t work. Try to find a quiet store or a changing room in the mall where you could sit and feed your baby in peace.

Nursing a child in an airplane, especially while taking off and landing helps him with that awful ear pain. 

Why is the bathroom not the right place to breastfeed?

First, you should not feed your baby in the bathroom because it is not for eating. Nobody else goes there with the purpose to eat, neither should you take your child.

Second, it is unhygienic to feed your baby in the bathrooms.

  • Every time the toilet is flushed, feces and urine explode into the bathroom. It can land on the breast of the mother or on the lips of your baby.  

Take it seriously

Breastfeeding in the bathroom is not just gross, but it can harm your baby, because those microbes found in fecal cause 6.5 million cases of gastroenteritis and 9.000 deaths/year.

PUBLIC BATHROOM are extremely contaminated because of the amount of people using it. Add the dirty diapers, women’s tampons, pads and you have a perfect germ explosion there.

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Pros of breastfeeding in public
NO cons

Everybody knows that breastfeeding is very good for a child and for a mother.

However, not many people talk about public breastfeeding being very beneficial.

Well, it is.

1. Being able to breastfeed in public I was able to get out and do chores, live my social life, entertain my older child at the park, museum or library, go out and have lunch with my husband, even travel across the ocean few times. 

2. Breastfeeding on demand (anywhere and anytime your child wants) is not only healthy for a child, but it is also a way to keep your high flow of breast milk coming.

3. By breastfeeding in public we become so to say advocates of breastfeeding to other mothers or young teenagers. We send a message that breastfeeding is the best food for babies and young children, yet we don't have to hide it or be embarrassed of it. 

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How to deal with criticism
when breastfeeding in public?

While breastfeeding in public is becoming more and more normal and accepted, there still might be some people who think that your baby should not be fed wherever and whenever he wants to.

Some women had successfully breastfed in public few children and had never been harassed.

It depends where you live and what kind of people are around you.

So in case you need it, here are some great tips on how to avoid, deal and ignore comments, judgmental accusations or just uncomfortable situations when you breastfeed in public.

1. Ignore. If the person is very rude there is no point arguing or trying to change his mind. It will only upset you and of course your baby won’t be happy either. Walk away, turn around, change the subject or ask for help if that person still keeps bothering you.

2. Humor. Be creative with throwing a funny joke, try to make fun of the situation, not the other person. With a smile on your face you could say: “I am auditioning for “Victoria Secret” commercial.”

3. Educate. If it's family or friends, you could share some educative articles about the benefits of breastfeeding on demand. For some reason, people believe in things more when they see it printed. Therefore, explain that in order for you to live a healthy, happy, normal life you can’t sit at home and wait until your baby/toddler weans.

4. Empathize. “I understand it makes you uncomfortable, but my baby is hungry now and I have to feed him.”

Enjoy being proud and confident breastfeeding mother!

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Rights on breastfeeding in public

If anyone is doubting - breastfeeding in public is LEGAL.

In fact there are no state in US that would forbid breastfeeding in public. According to State laws women has right to breastfeed in public as long as they are legally allowed there. 

If you nurse in public and someone is bothering you, asking you to leave or stop nursing, you could remind them that breastfeeding in public is legal.

Breastfeeding in public laws state by state are available here.

Should you breastfeed in public? Absolutely YES.

Should you use a nursing cover or go to designated nursing area when breastfeeding in public? It depends. Find your comfort level and do as you wish. It is your body, your baby, your decision. Do what is best for you.

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