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Breastfeeding in PublicBreastfed Baby

Most mothers know that breastfeeding is the most natural and healthy option for their baby. The problem is that nowadays mothers need to work, shop, take their other children places, and do a thousand other things; it’s hard to always be in a private area when your baby is hungry. Social norms make many women feel uncomfortable feeding their children in public areas, but don’t let this stop you. You just don't have to put up with people telling you that you must feed your baby in a dirty bathroom stall or put a blanket over your baby's face. Would YOU want to eat like that? You should not let people stop you from doing what’s best for your child.

Feeding a baby is not shocking, but necessary. Unfortunately in some cultures, particularly in the Western world, feeding a baby at the breast IS seen as something shocking, even vulgar by some. To be fair, many people are simply unaccustomed to seeing a woman breastfeeding and so feel some discomfort around a nursing mother. For others, breastfeeding is an activity that belongs behind closed doors.

One the one hand, some proponents of breastfeeding feel that the only way to normalize the activity and affect a change in the collective consciousness is to proceed normally, and not behave as if nursing is something that needs to be hidden away.

Others feel that they can't do much to change the opinions of uninformed individuals. They may decide to avoid offending others by using some sort of nursing cover up when feeding their baby. No approach is right, it depends on the situation and the feelings of the mother.

The fact of the matter is you have every right to breast feed in public. In fact, many areas have laws protecting the rights of breastfeeding mothers. However, you should always take steps to respect the wishes of others and be as discrete as you can. Since many places haven’t yet set aside areas for private breast feeding, you may have to be creative. Here are some tips for discrete feeding:

• Wear clothing designed for breast feeding. They make special clothing just for this purpose, or you can improvise or modify clothes yourself.

• If possible, find a secluded area. If you can find a spare chair, that’s great. A spare dressing room or hidden corner is even better. If you are in a restaurant, you can ask to be seated in a confined area or simply be seated near a wall and face your back to the crowd.

• Use a nursing cover. While many women use a baby blanket, you can be even more discrete by wearing a jacket or large shawl to cover your baby.

• Practice. While it may seem silly, the best way to learn to breastfeed your child in public is to practice in front of a mirror while feeding at home. Try different positions and different coverings. This will help you know which positions are the best for feeding without showing too much.

• Ask for somewhere private. If you need to breastfeed at work, it’s not unreasonable to ask for somewhere to do it. Many employers would rather you feed in a break room or secluded area rather than in the middle of the office. You can also look into laws in your area related to workplace breastfeeding.

While it’s normal to want to be respectful of other people, you do have rights. There are certain things you should never do.

• Never feed your baby in a restroom stall. Outer sitting areas in restrooms are fine. They are generally more comfortable for you and your baby; however, the actual restroom is not. Bathrooms are dirty and usually have an unpleasant smell. Adults don’t have to eat in restroom stalls; neither should your child.

• Don’t let people intimidate you. No matter how discrete you are, it’s inevitable that someone will still be offended that you choose to breastfeed. Inform people politely that you have a legal right to feed your baby in public. If you feel inclined, you can also add some of the damaging effects bottle feeding has on children. If you feel uncomfortable saying things to strangers, there are breastfeeding rights groups that can provide you with cards to hand out to people who object.

Breastfeeding may be difficult, especially when you need to be in public, but keep in mind that it’s the best option for having a happy, healthy baby. And if it feels right for you and your baby then trust your instincts.

If you bottle feed check out natural glass bottles!

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