Tips for the Shy Mom: Overcoming the Fear of Breastfeeding in Public

For the shy mom, the fear of breastfeeding in public is a huge hurdle to overcome. So much can go wrong! Baby can squirm and scream, causing people to stare or you could accidentally expose yourself. In the best circumstances, breastfeeding in public can be intimidating for a shy mom. Overcoming the fear of breastfeeding in public is a huge step in being able to take baby everywhere. Fear not mamas! Here are some tips to help overcome the fear of breastfeeding in public.

Tips for Breastfeeding in Public

Practice in a Comfortable Place

The first step to overcoming the fear of breastfeeding in public practice in a comfortable place. For the first time, try somewhere you feel comfortable and have been before. For instance, try to breastfeed in a mom-friendly location such as a library story time, breastfeeding group, or other mom meet up. The more practice breastfeeding in front of other people, the more confident you will be and more likely you can overcome the fear of breastfeeding in public.

Find a quiet place

Just because you need to breastfeed baby in public does not mean you need to breastfeed directly in in the center of the crowd. Particularly if you have a baby that does not want to miss a moment of the action, it will be easier for you and baby to find a quiet corner to breastfeed. If you are at a loud busy restaurant, try taking baby outside to breastfeed. Similarly, if you are in a busy store, walk outside to a bench. If there is not a quiet place, try your car.

Time it right

Recognize baby’s early hunger signs. If you are nervous about breastfeeding in public, do not delay or procrastinate. It is much easier to breastfeed a calm baby than a crying baby. If baby does become upset, it is okay. Calm baby down before attempting to breastfeed.

Wear Nursing-Friendly Clothes

Wear clothes that are loose and easy to breastfeed in. The last thing you want to be doing is struggling to breastfeed in public because of your clothes. It is worth investing money in clothes that are easy to breastfeed in. Along those lines, make sure your bra is breastfeeding-friendly. There are a variety of nursing bras that are both convenient and comfortable.

Use Barriers

For the mom that is fearful of exposing yourself in public, use the stroller as a barrier to block anyone from seeing you. For further coverage, use a nursing scarf or blanket to cover yourself and baby. Be sure to find a weather appropriate cover as you do not want baby to sweat and be uncomfortable under a heavy scarf or blanket.

Practice at home

However you are going to breastfeed baby in public, practice at home first. If you are going to use a nursing scarf, try it at home and see how baby reacts. Some babies, particularly older babies, refuse to be covered up when nursing. In that case, just cover part of baby or practice blocking yourself with the stroller. Invite people over to your home and practice breastfeeding in front of them. Some moms breastfeed baby while wearing baby in a carrier. This is another technique to practice at home before trying in public.

Use The Buddy System

There is always strength in numbers. Find another breastfeeding mother to hang out with. The buddy system can help you overcome shyness. A veteran mom offers emotional support. Watching another mother breastfeed in public can help you gain the confidence you need. The other mother can push you along to overcome your nerves.

Ignore the Rude People

There will be at some point, someone that is offended by a breastfeeding mother in public. Do not let that stop you from breastfeeding your baby in public. It is perfectly legal to breastfeed in public. Focus on baby and remember the purpose of why you are breastfeeding your baby in public, and that is to provide baby the proper nourishment! Most people would prefer a happy, content and fed baby than a screaming, hungry baby.

There will be bumps in the road but it will get easier over time. Overcoming the fear of breastfeeding is public is doable! Practice makes perfect!

Want more on breastfeeding? Check out The Surprising Benefits of Extended Breastfeeding.



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Lawyer, writer, and new mom with a weakness for compulsive planning, red wine, and reality TV. In her 30-something pre-baby life, she thought she had life somewhat figured out. Now, she is realizing how much she didn't know and rediscovering the world through a toddler's eyes. Jeri is passionate about writing and connecting with other moms about life in general, motherhood's many challenges, and motherhood's greatest blessings. She lives in Florida with her husband, toddler, and three dogs. In her free time, you can find Jeri lounging with family, on the tennis court, or at the movies.