FAQ: How can I breastfeed my baby when out in public?
As we famously call it NIP (Nursing In Public) at BSIM, it is a very important part of any breastfeeding journey. NIP is not just convenient, but also incredibly empowering.
Nursing in public is a right of a breastfeeding mother and her baby alike. Just how the grown-ups can eat in public places, a baby has the right to eat her food too.
An argument often made by people who don’t support breastfeeding against nursing in public is that - it is indecent. This argument stems from a mindset that accepts and promotes the over-sexualisation of human breasts. All mammals have breasts; its function being providing nourishment to its young. Humans are mammals too. And women’s breasts to serve the same function. It is sad that the over-sexualization of breasts coupled with centuries of patriarchy has left ‘breastfeeding’ - the most natural and normal process a taboo.
Some techniques to nurse in public :
1. Using a cover
A woman may choose to use a cover. There are nursing covers available that can be purchased in order to use them while nursing the baby. A lot of these covers also cover the baby. And many babies don't like to be covered while nursing. Some babies may feel uncomfortable or get irritated when covered and become fussy or refuse to nurse as a result. Older infants may even pull the cover off if they are feeling hot, or restricted or otherwise uncomfortable. A cover might even attract more attention as they can be pretty conspicuous.
2. Two - t-shirt method
This is a very discreet method in which a camisole (a slip/inner) is worn under the t-shirt. While latching the baby, the camisole can be pulled down (along with the bra) and the t-shirt can be pulled up. This only makes way for the nipple (and little part of the breast) long enough for the baby to latch. Once the baby is latched on, the nipple and the breast are blocked entirely by the baby’s head. Also, the t-shirt can be left to fall on the baby. When looked at from any direction, the breast is barely visible. With practice, this method becomes so discreet that even the latching becomes a matter of a tiny moment. This method is almost as effective as using a cover in the sense of avoiding any exposure.
3. Nursing in a carrier
A lot of women nurse their babies while carrying their baby in their baby carrier. Slings, SSCs and even saree or dupatta wraps can accommodate nursing pretty easily. This gives a lot of freedom to the mother as she can nurse the baby handsfree while walking, talking and pretty much-doing anything she wants.
4. Not using any technique
Covering up, keeping it discreet, using nursing rooms to breastfeed the baby etc. are all individual choices. But not using any of the above techniques is a choice too. If a woman is comfortable enough, she may choose to nurse the baby, not so discreetly, without any cover! And that’s fine. Breastfeeding at any place and time is a right of both the baby and the mother. In fact, it is against the law to discriminate against a breastfeeding mother. If a mother wishes to breastfeed in a public space, a cafe, shop, park, anywhere, with or without cover, it is her lawful right and she cannot be asked to stop. In many places, there may not be a nursing room. That cannot keep a baby from having her food. Toilet is not a place to nurse a baby. It is extremely unhygienic. And when grown-ups don’t eat their food in a toilet, why should a baby?
Some tips for nursing in public
Breastfeeding friendly clothing :
Apart from the 2 t-shirt method described above which usually supports most western casual clothing, there can be other hacks that can be tried to make any kind of clothing breastfeeding friendly. Here are a few examples -
Benefits of Breastfeeding in Public
Travelling with a Breastfed Baby :
Travelling with a baby becomes a lot easier when the baby is breastfed. It takes care of the baby’s hunger and thirst without having to make any kind of preparations and also works as a fantastic tool to soothe the baby, put the baby to sleep and to keep the baby comfortable in general. Here are some tips to follow while travelling with a breastfed baby.
Travelling by personal vehicle -
Travelling by public transport
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DISCLAIMER: THE FAQ ARTICLES ARE INTENDED AS A SOURCE OF BASIC INFORMATION AND AN EXTENSION OF SUPPORT FROM BREASTFEEDING PARENTS TO BREASTFEEDING PARENTS. IT DOES NOT CLAIM TO REPLACE ANY MEDICAL ADVICE.
* MEDICAL DISCLAIMER: THE ADVICE SUGGESTED BY THE LACTATION CONSULTANTS/STANPAN SAATHIS/WEBINAR HOSTS ARE THEIR OWN. TO ACCEPT AND TO ACT ON THOSE IS AT THE SOLE DISCRETION OF THE INDIVIDUAL WHO IS SEEKING SUPPORT. IN NO WAY SHOULD THE ADVICE GIVEN REPLACE A MEDICAL DIAGNOSIS OR ADVICE FROM A QUALIFIED PROFESSIONAL. IF THAT HAPPENS, IT'S AT THE SOLE DISCRETION OF THE INDIVIDUAL WHO CHOOSES TO DO THAT. BSIM WILL NOT BE HELD RESPONSIBLE OR LIABLE FOR ANY CONSEQUENCES.
WE UNDERSTAND AND ACKNOWLEDGE THAT PARENTS AND BABIES CAN BE OF VARIOUS GENDERS ON A SPECTRUM OF THE LGBTIQA+. FAMILIES COME IN DIVERSE FLAVOURS. HOWEVER, IN OUR ARTICLES, FOR THE SAKE OF SIMPLICITY AND CONVENIENCE, WE WILL BE REFERRING TO THE BREASTFEEDING PARENT AS THE MOTHER AND USING THE FEMALE PRONOUNS- 'SHE' AND 'HER' FOR BABIES. BABIES CAN BE NOURISHED AND NURTURED IN DIFFERENT WAYS AND WHILE WE HAVE USED THE TERMS BREASTFEEDING AND NURSING, WE RECOGNIZE THAT PARENTS CAN OPT TO CHEST FEED OR FINGER FEED.
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