Pregnancy and baby

Breastfeeding in public

What's it like breastfeeding in public?

Media last reviewed: 20/04/2012

Next review due: 20/04/2014

Breastfeeding when you're out and about

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.

Here are some ideas to help you get started:

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 or your health visitor if they know of a spot, such as a cafe, that they’ve found to be breastfeeding-friendly.

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. Ask your health visitor for more information. Some mums feel more comfortable laying a scarf or muslin cloth over their chest while they’re breastfeeding.

Take someone with you. Sometimes, it helps to go with a friend who has an older baby and can take you to places that she already knows would be comfortable for you to sit and feed. Or 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.

Know your rights. You shouldn’t ever be made to feel uncomfortable about breastfeeding in public. In fact, the Equality Act 2010 has made it illegal for anyone to ask a breastfeeding woman to leave a public place such as a cafe, shop or public transport.

What do other women do when they go out with their baby?

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 so 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, and 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 that I was feeding them.”

For more ideas, go to our Real mums information pages. You can also hear the experiences of other mums at Healthtalk online

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


Breastfeeding out and about

In this video from Best Beginnings, four mums whose babies have been breastfeeding for a little while share their experiences of feeding in public.

Media last reviewed: 22/10/2014

Next review due: 22/10/2016

Page last reviewed: 25/04/2013

Next review due: 25/04/2015

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The 2 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

Mummybear37 said on 15 September 2014

I find wearing maternity leggings to cover my tummy helpful as I prefer to lift my top and put Thomas under it.

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Hannah Parker said on 09 May 2013

Ha! Breastfeeding in public is good fun - we did it a lot as I refused to be stuck in the house and in the early days I have to admit there was a lot of nipple waving. But honestly, stick with it, soon you'll be a pro and not even the slightest bit embarrassed!

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