Are you feeling anxious about breastfeeding in public post lockdown?
Maybe you went into lockdown feeding a baby, and have come out of it feeding a toddler, and now it feels way different?
Or maybe you gave birth during lockdown and haven’t fed in front of anyone yet, and now you’re feeling panic!
It’s totally normal to feel anxieties around breastfeeding in public or around friends and family even. In fact, studies show* that approx. 80% of women stop breastfeeding before they want to, and often those women stated a fear of breastfeeding around others as one of the contributing factors to this. So you are not alone! Every mama I know has felt that clammy, flustered feeling of latching baby whilst desperately trying not to flash their father in law! But its ok! There are ways to grow in confidence, reduce the fear, and feed your baby comfortably no matter where you are. Just remember that it’s a journey, and take baby steps!
Here are a few things that have helped me along the way, give them a go the next time you’re presented with feeding in public, I rooting for you!
1. Practise! I’m such a fan of feel the fear & do it anyway when it comes to breastfeeding, because I promise you, that feeling of dread does go away with practise, and you’ll also get super handy at getting your little one on the boob discreetly too so that no one bats an eyelid! So keep going mama, take it one feed at a time, and your confidence will grow day by day. Remember you’ll be doing it without even thinking about it before long!
2. The germs! I think we are all feeling more than a little germ phobic at the moment, am I right?! Especially when babies/toddlers are constantly putting their hands/every object within reach in their mouth. But the good news is, when you breastfeed baby out and about, it means that whatever germs they have been picking up will be around their mouths – and when they feed, these germs are picked up through your super clever areola, which then signals to your brain which anti-bodies you need to produce in your milk! Within around 20 mins, your milk will contain the specific germ fighting white cells that are needed to help fight against any germs your baby has picked up. Amazing right!! So when you go to feed your baby in public….just keep thinking about that over and over, it will help take the focus away from worrying about what other people are thinking, or if they are going to catch a flash of your super clever areola!
3. Start off with an easy confidence win. If you haven’t fed in front of people yet….make sure that the first person you do feed in front of is someone supportive, maybe your mum, or your best friend…& tell them that you are feeling a bit nervous! It can really help to say, “Oh, they need a feed now. Right, I’m a bit nervous about feeding in front of people so can you look away to start with!” – “Or, I’m a bit nervous but I knew you’d be supportive so I don’t mind as much!”. Those close to you will most likely want to support you and make you feel comfortable, but they don’t know how…and then it can get awkward! So being really open about it like that can start the conversation, allow them to ask what you need, and make it way more comfortable! Just that alone will increase your confidence, as you’ll feel less like you’re in it alone, promise! Also, making sure your partner if you have one, is on board and knows how to help you feel comfortable will help. I used to make mine sit opposite me, or on the other side of the room, and carry on the convo while I fed, so that I knew everyone would be looking at him!
4. Beating the stigma around feeding an older child. Ifyou are saying….YESSS, but now they are a toddler, people have started looking, and I don’t want people to think I’m weird! Well! Just think - if an advert for a new drink came on the market, that said it contained the antibodies needed to help fight cornana virus…and the anti-bodies for every single germ that you could possibly pick up when you are about and about – which would help bolster your little ones immune system coming out of lockdown. Would those people who are looking at you feed your toddler buy it? YES! They bloody would – EVEN if it came in giant boob packaging!
The point is, remember that the reason you are feeding your toddler is way more important than anyone ‘s narrow minded views. Whilst there might be some stigma around feeding older children, the average joe bloggs in the street doesn’t realise that the immune factors in your milk do not diminish as baby gets older, in fact your milk becomes super concentrated with live, germ fighting cells. You have chosen to keep making that drink for them, and to keep feeding it to them it when they are out and about, because you know it will cover the germs they pick up when out and about then (& thats just one possible reason!). Its so logical! Remember this when it come to feeding and hopefully it will help drown out those ‘feeding an older child’ anxieties.
I recently asked breastfeeding mamas via our Instagram account how they are feeling about breastfeeding in public again, and this is what they said:
“Feeling the same about it really. I’ll literally feed anywhere. I’ve never come across any negativity, although I did receive a funny look recently but I’m not sure if that’s because my baby is older (14months),or if its because they just wanted a good look! Who knows, but it wont stop me feedin thoughg. 95% of the time it just looks like we are having a cuddle anyway” Kirsty
“We went for food for the first time this week and I was a tad bit nervous, as the only time Ive breastfed in public with her has been in a park on the odd occasion. But the restaurant was fine, I was looking around but no one even batted an eyelid! It was actually really lovely” Sophie
“BF in public for the first time yesterday J. I was conscious of not baring all for my own sake and my modesty tbh, but having confidence and having bfing established together with bubba just made it feel right and natural. Also, helpful to focus on what you are doing and carrying on as normal instead of looking to see if people have noticed etc” Jessica
“Originally I was really nervous. And then I visited a friend in Brighton on my own with my daughter, and our train got cancelled so we had to take a bus replacement….long story short, I had to feed her so I breastfed on the bus!!! Thrown in the deep end…I had no other choice and it went well. I think that gave me the confidence to feed in public. Now I can feed anywhere and I’m quite proud of it!” @myfrenchplate
“I’m feeling more awkward as I went into lockdown feeding a baby and now I’m suddenly feeding a toddler! You defeinitely get more looks as they get older!” Jessica