As a traveling mommy of three, I have breastfed in public many times in many different locations. The bottom line of traveling with a baby you breastfeed is that at some point you will have to breastfeed in public. Whether you are on an airplane, a bus, or at a train station, the time is coming. Babies have to eat, and when you are trying to get from point A to point B you might not be able to find a private place to nurse. So here is my guide to breastfeeding in public:
-Dress For The Occasion
Make sure you are wearing a comfortable, reliable nursing bra. My personal favorite brand is Bella Materna (right now their “Seamless Nursing Bra (Full Cup or Regular)” is on sale!! That is the one I actually use, it rocks). They make wonderful nursing bras in all sizes, and their full coverage bras for larger chested women are extremely supportive and easy to use. Do not waste money on a cheap nursing bra!! By the time you have worn though three cheap ones, you could have bought one amazing one that will last you nursing through two babies!
You can also make your own breastfeeding top, or dress in light layers like a cardigan and a tank top so you have your body covered if that makes you more comfortable. There is also the option to use a nursing cover like the one in the photo above. For older babies I recommend sitting on one corner of the cover to keep your little one from being distracted by a possible game of peek-a-boo. Hahaha. For more details on how to dress for breastfeeding in public you can check out this article I wrote a few years go.
Of course I am not suggesting you have to cover up completely. I feel more comfortable covered up, but that is just my personal preference. As a breastfeeding support person my number one priority for all nursing mothers is personal comfort. Do whatever makes you feel most comfortable!
-Feed Your Baby On Time
When you wait to feed your baby and they are starving, they get cranky and frantic, and you are more likely to have a hard time getting them to relax to eat. If you know you are not going to be able to feed them when they are going to be hungry because you will be running to another plane or something like that, feed them a few minutes early. It will be much better than trying to console a starving baby later.
-Be Confident and Smile!
You are doing something your body was naturally made to do. Whether breastfeeding makes people uncomfortable or not, they cannot deny the fact that after you give birth, your body automatically makes milk!! During those times I have had disapproving looks or comments I just smile. Like my mom always said, “Kill them with kindness.” For my international readers, that American idiom means that you can combat the meanness of some people by being extremely nice to them.
-Never Feed Your Baby in a Bathroom Stall
This is a solution that someone who is uncomfortable with breastfeeding will give you, so they don’t have to be bothered by the fact that you have breasts under you clothes that provide your infant with nourishment. But their problem is not your problem, and while I am all for accommodating people as much as possible, I will not go out of my way to put my baby in a dangerous situation. Bathroom stalls are a disgusting place for a meal! Would you ever let any older member of your family go sit in a public stall while eating their lunch? No. Please don’t give into public pressure to do this. It is against common sense, plain and simple. My response to someone who asks me to do this,
“Do you think it is reasonable for my baby to eat in a place where people go to relieve themselves? How would you feel about eating a sandwich on a toilet in a public restroom? I am covering my child and ask that if you still have a problem with me breastfeeding here that you leave the room until I am finished. Thanks.”
-Know Your Rights
Most countries have laws that will protect your right to breastfeed in public. I suggest doing some research, if at all possible, about what laws there are in the nation you are traveling to. In the U.S. you have the right to breastfeed wherever you are legally allowed to be and they do not have the right to ask you to use a cover (although many business try to do that). Each state has its own code for this. When I lived in CA I had the number and law memorized, just in case.
How have your experiences been traveling while breastfeeding? I would love to hear about it in a comment below!