Breastfeeding in Public: Combating the Stigma while Keeping your Dignity
While it’s true that breastfeeding in public is legal in all fifty states, like it or not, there is still a stigma associated with it. If like most breastfeeding moms, the desire to give your child his much-needed and very natural sustenance is stronger that your concern about what other people think or say about you, then you’re going to need to equip yourself with a few strategies. When implemented, these tips will help you combat the stigma associated with breastfeeding in public while keeping your dignity firmly intact.
- Dress the part. If you’re a nursing mom today, count yourself as lucky. You’ve got it a lot better fashion-wise than your ancestral counterparts. It’s true; the nursing apparel available today—including bras, T-shirts, and even dressy blouses—are so cleverly designed that the untrained eye would never know you were a nursing mom (okay, except for the suckling baby in your lap). There are also nursing “capes” available today that can provide you with even more privacy.
- Work within your own comfort zone. You certainly don’t have to wear any special clothing to nurse in public if you don’t want to. If you prefer to go au natural, feel free. Your comfort—and your baby’s— is the priority here. You might consider draping a blanket over your shoulder or turning away from others around you as your baby latches on. If you’re extremely modest, you can always pump milk beforehand to carry with you when you venture out in public.
- Prepare your responses ahead of time. As long as the world continues to spin, there will always be rude and outspoken people in it. No matter what precautions you take or how discreet you are, if you’re nursing in public on a regular basis, you’re bound to be the recipient of some negative and misguided comments. If you prepare yourself for these situations beforehand, you’ll be better equipped to handle them in a calm and dignified manner. A simple, “Thank you, but I’m going to feed my baby” should be sufficient enough to deflect most of these unwanted remarks.
Whichever approach you choose, know that your choice to breastfeed your baby is one that will provide him with life-long health benefits. Any discomfort or embarrassment that you feel during this relatively short span of time is a small price to pay to ensure that your child is off to a good start, both physically and emotionally.