Breastfeeding is important for mums and babies, but it isn’t always easy, especially in the early days when feeding can take a bit of time and practice for both mum and baby. If you need support in those early days remember you can always ring the National Breastfeeding Helpline (0300 100 0212) or go along to your local support group if you have one nearby. Once you have both got the hang of things breastfeeding generally becomes much easier, but then comes the next big challenge, breastfeeding out and about!
Some mums don’t think about this at all, but for others it can be a big worry, if you are worried here are a few hints and tips.
1.Your right to breastfeeding in public is protected by law
- In Scotland there is also a specific law protecting the right of a mother to breastfeed in public. This is called the Breastfeeding etc (Scotland) Act 2005. This act makes it illegal to stop a mum feeding her child (breastfeeding or bottle feeding) in any premises where the public have general access. (including in licensed premises if the baby is lawfully permitted to be there)
- In England and Wales breastfeeding mothers are protected by the Equality Act 2010, a law which bans unfair treatment. The Equality Act states that it is sex discrimination to treat a woman less favourably because she is breastfeeding. This means it is illegal for anyone to ask a breastfeeding woman to leave a public place, such as a cafe, shop or public transport.
2. Your local breastfeeding group can be a good place to practice breastfeeding in public
- It will be full of mums in the same situation and you can chat to them about their experience or breastfeeding out and about and ask for suggestions about things to make it easier or places to go. You might also find a couple of mums are happy to join you at a local coffee shop after the group, to give you company the first time you feed outside the home!
3.Think about the clothes you will be most comfortable in, some mums find a vest top with a t-shirt over the top works well (you can pull the vest top down and the t-shirt up when you feed)
4.Take someone else with you, that way you will have a friendly face and someone to carry your coffee (or cake) if your baby can’t wait for their lunch!
5.Look out for information about Breastfeeding Friendly/Breastfeeding Welcome schemes in your area. Find out what your local logo/sticker looks like and then see if you can spot it in local shops, cafes and other venues.
If possible, try to relax and don’t worry about getting a negative reaction, most of the time no one will even know you are feeding, it just looks like you are cuddling your baby. It is important to remember that most mums never have a negative experience when breastfeeding out and about, in fact you are more likely to get positive comments than negative ones!
If you have visited a business or organisation that is signed up to the BfN Breastfeeding Friendly scheme and would like to share some feedback (positive or negative) or if you would just like to give general feedback about the scheme you can do so here (link)
You can search for businesses and organisations that are already signed up to the BfN Breastfeeding Friendly scheme here
If your favourite café or business isn’t signed up yet why not ask them if they would like to join?
It is free and all they need to do is download the pack (link to be updated shortly) and then return the sign up form (There is a small cost if they want to have a sticker or to be included in the online venue locator) You could even print out the information and drop it in next time you or in or send them a facebook message inviting them to join with a link to the scheme information. By encouraging businesses and organisations in your area to sign up you can help support other breastfeeding mums and make your community more welcoming and breastfeeding friendly!