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Pregnancy and baby

Breastfeeding in public

Breastfeeding in public can mean breastfeeding in front of a relative or friend in your own home, or in a public place, such as a cafe or shopping centre.

During your baby's early days, you may prefer to breastfeed only where you feel most comfortable. But, as you get more used to doing it, you're likely to feel more confident about breastfeeding in front of other people when you're out and about.

A survey by Start4Life found that 72% of people support women breastfeeding in public. The more it's done, the more normal it will become.

Here are some ideas to help you get started:

Know your rights. You shouldn't ever be made to feel uncomfortable about breastfeeding in public. It is illegal for anyone to ask a breastfeeding woman to leave a public place, such as a cafe, shop or public transport.

Plan ahead. Before you go out, it can help to think about where you will feel comfortable breastfeeding when your baby gets hungry. Ask breastfeeding friends for recommendations.

Your midwife, health visitor or peer supporters at the local breastfeeding drop-ins will also know of good places in your area you can feed your baby.

Clothes and bra. What you wear when you're breastfeeding is a matter of personal taste and what you feel comfortable in. For example, some mums like to wear loose tops that can be lifted up.

Others, who prefer to keep their tummy covered, wear two stretchy tops, so that the top layer can be lifted up and the bottom layer can be pulled down. A soft non-underwired bra can be easily pulled up or down when you want to feed your baby.

Baby slings, scarves and cloths. Some baby slings are designed in such a way that you can breastfeed while your baby is still in the sling. Some mums feel more comfortable laying a scarf or muslin cloth over their chest while they're breastfeeding.

Take someone with you. It can help to go with a friend who has an older baby and can take you to places that she already knows. You could go with someone else, such as your mum, partner, sister or friend, so that there's always someone to talk to.

Avoid the loos. Don't feel that you should sit in a public toilet to breastfeed. You wouldn't eat in there, so don't feel that your baby should be fed there.

Mums talk about breastfeeding away from home

Two breastfeeding mums talk about their experiences of feeding in public:

Cara, from Banbury

"I thought I would need 'nursing tops', but once my baby finally arrived I realised that my normal clothes (and favourite maternity tops) all worked much better. I could pop my baby under my top to feed her, and she would be tucked up next to my skin.

"It took me a while to get the hang of attaching her easily without looking, but soon I felt confident feeding almost anywhere. I've never had any negative comments from other people. I don't think people realise I'm feeding a baby most of the time."

Claire, from Aberystwyth

"At first, I couldn't imagine how I would be able to feed the twins away from home. I was really nervous, as they each took half an hour to feed, and I would only be able to feed one at a time when I was out. But then I became so confident, that I hardly noticed I was feeding them." 

Page last reviewed: 28/02/2017

Next review due: 28/02/2020

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