Top Tips for feeding in public:
- Practice: try feeding at home in front of a mirror so that you can see what others will see when you’re feeding – you’ll likely notice you’re not showing as much of your breast as you thought since babys head is covering it! You can also try practicing in front of someone else such as a partner, friend or close family member
- Clothing: there are many different options when it comes to what to wear to make breastfeeding in public (an in general!) easier. You could try wearing a vest top underneath a looser tshirt/jumper so the top layer goes up and the bottom layer goes down creating a space for baby to attach to the breast.
- Wear a loose scarf of cardigan to wrap around baby & breast
- Try wrap around style tops and dresses, clothes with zips or buttons (check out this Facebook page for tried and tested breastfeeding friendly clothes from other mamas in the UK!)
- Like-Minded peers: find a local group where there will be other breastfeeding women. This peer support and having the support of a qualified practitioner might increase your confidence in many areas of breastfeeding, not just feeding in public. Check out our local services under the “Breastfeeding Support” tab.
- Company: it can be handy to have someone with you that first time you head out with your baby for support. It can help to go with a friend who has an older baby and can take you to places that she already knows
- 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. Did you know: you can pop into any Children's Centre in Merton and they are more than happy to provide you a space where you can breastfeed. Have a look on the "Merton Children's Centres and Offerings" tab above to locate the nearest children's centre for where you will be on your outing.
- Responsive breastfeeding also means responding to your needs so you can offer baby a breastfeed to fit into your lifestyle - if you are planning to go out, have an appointment etc you can feed your baby before you go even if they are not showing hunger cues.
- Avoid the loos! Do not feel that you should sit in a public toilet to breastfeed. You would not eat in there, so do not feel that your baby should be fed there.
How to Law protects you:
It is illegal for anyone to ask a breastfeeding woman to leave a public place, such as a cafe, shop or public transport.
You are protected in public places such as parks, shops, restaurants, cinemas, theatres, hotels, sports and leisure facilities, public buildings and when using public transport such as buses, trains and planes.
The Equality Act 2010 says that it is discrimination to treat a woman unfavourably because she is breastfeeding. It applies to anyone providing services, benefits, facilities and premises to the public, public bodies, further and higher education bodies and association. Service providers must not discriminate, harass or victimise a woman because she is breastfeeding.
Discrimination includes refusing to provide a service, providing a lower standard of service or providing a service on different terms. Therefore, a cafe owner cannot ask you to stop breastfeeding, ask you to move or cover up or refuse to serve you.
For more information please visit the NHS guidance on breastfeeding in public and breastfeeding while out and about on the Maternity action website.