When Mom makes the decision to feed the baby via the most natural source of nutrition, she'll have two choices. She can stay at home 24/7, or she can have a life and breastfeed on the go.
Breastfeeding comes with its set of challenges. Shakira once said, “lucky that my breasts are small and humble, so you don't confuse them with mountains.” Well unlike Shakira, milk-filled breasts are not small or humble, but they do resemble mountains... and by mountains I mean active volcanoes that could erupt at any moment. If you didn’t get the memo, being a mom is the hardest job in the world and learning all the ins and outs that comes with breastfeeding is just another part of the ride.
Homebody or not, when a baby takes over your life, sometimes you HAVE TO get out of the house...because if you don't, you might turn into a crazy person. Whether you’re running errands, meeting up with friends or tackling a family road trip, breastfeeding on the go simply refers to feeding your baby whenever and wherever you are.
The thought of nursing with an audience can be nerve wrecking, but with time, practice and helpful tips from fellow moms, you can learn to get the job done with ease. From your car seat to your restaurant seat, a private room or out in the open, there are many ways to breastfeed and it is your right to do whatever makes you feel comfortable.
I recently stopped breastfeeding, but for nine months I breastfed my bottle-refusing baby wherever I went and popping out a boob became my new normal.
From handling stupidity from others, to clothes, planning ahead and so much more, here are 15 tips for breastfeeding on the go.
15 Own It
Along with a kazillion people (and animals), you have chosen to breastfeed your baby. It’s the most natural and basic nurturing act, so if you’re going to do it, OWN IT. Regardless of where you are or who’s watching, be confident, be proud and put your boobs up in the air like you just don’t care. You can be as discrete as you choose, but the ultimate goal is that YOU feel comfortable.
Whether you are intentionally standing up for your rights or not, by nursing anywhere you want to, you are joining the movement to normalize breastfeeding. The best way to make a change is to be the change. The more women who breastfeed openly, the more it encourages other moms to do the same, while educating the public to accept it.
You get to decide if, when, where and how you breastfeed. Be proud of yourself for being awesome and own the way you choose to feed your baby.
14 Handle Ignorance Like A Boss
In Canada and almost all states in the US, the law protects a woman's right to breastfeed anywhere. Laws are different around the world, but it’s important to know your rights.
These days, it seems like everyone has an opinion about breastfeeding. From how long a mom should nurse for, to when and where it is socially accepted, some people seem to forget that breastfeeding is simply the healthiest and most recommended nutrition opinion for babies and mothers.
Everyone has heard of at least one story of a woman who was told to put her boobs away when breastfeeding in public, but there's comfort in knowing that the majority of people mind their own business. In the nine months that I breastfed for, I never received a stupid comment or dirty look. However, if you do encounter a slice of ignorance, here are some comebacks that you're welcome to use:
Polite response: "My baby is hungry and I am feeding her. Thank you for your understanding."
Witty response: "It appears that you have a neck. If you have a problem, use it to turn your head and look away."
There are also many I'm-running-on-no-sleep-and-don't-have-the-time-for-your-shenanigans responses that I am sure you could come up with.
The bottom line is, breastfeeding should always be encouraged instead of shamed, and anyone who thinks otherwise can... (enter inappropriate comment here).
13 Practice At Home
When first time moms start to breastfeed, two people are learning a new skill at the same time (and one of them was born yesterday). The initial phases of breastfeeding can be painful, awkward and downright frustrating, but it almost always gets easier with time.
The best way to master breastfeeding on the go is to first master breastfeeding in the comfort of your home. If you feel discouraged, know that all breastfeeding moms have been in your shoes.
There are many resources out there to help you if you’re struggling, so don’t be afraid to ask for help. Once you have the latch down pact, practice breastfeeding in front of a mirror or with chill family and friends. Pretend you’re out and about and try different positions, working with your clothes, and decide if you like using a cover or not. By practicing at home, you’ll feel more confident when you’re nursing in public.
12 Wear An Easy-Access Bra
Having a baby is one of those times in life when bills keep adding up. Baby stuff is purposely overpriced and nursing bras are no exception. When it comes to choosing a bra for your milk-filled boobs, rather than going straight for the maternity section, know your options.
The two most important things to look for are comfort and easy-access. If you want to add looking sexy to the list, by all means, go for it (I wasn’t that ambitious).
I stocked up on nursing bras when I was pregnant, but after my son was born, my go-to-bra ended up being a regular front clip from La Senza. For the times that I didn’t care about keeping my girls up high, I was all about the bralettes (those comfy wireless bras without molded cups, aka your boobs' best friend).
Whether you choose to wear a nursing bra, front clip, bralette or anything else that fits, as long as you can easily pop out a boob while juggling a screaming baby, you’ll be good to go.
11 Dress In Layers
There are plenty of nursing clothes available on the market with peekaboo openings for easy access. If you want to purchase a new wardrobe that was designed with breastfeeding women in mind, go for it, but you certainly don’t have to.
Personally, I only found out about breastfeeding clothes when I was pregnant and I never bought into it. Instead, I chose easy, loose fitting outfits and wrap dresses that were easy to move to the side. The best advice I ever got about dressing for breastfeeding was to wear layers.
When you have to lift your shirt up to get your baby to your boobs, you may not be ready to expose your postpartum belly to the world. By wearing a tang top under your clothes, you’ll always have a layer of coverage. Your baby’s head will cover your boob and your under layer will cover the rest.
On cooler days, wearing a cute scarf is a great accessory to give yourself extra coverage while nursing your little one.
10 Plan Ahead
Experts recommend keeping babies on a consistent routine, but ya right… easier said than done. My baby is nine months old and I still have a hard time keeping him on schedule.
For the most part though, moms have an approximate idea of how long they have in between feeds. When leaving the house with your baby, it’s always best to plan ahead.
First of all, it’s better not to make set times when making plans with other people. When someone tells you to meet them at noon, tell them you’ll keep them posted on your ETA, and if you’re running late, just blame the baby.
Waiting until your baby is hungry and then feeding right before leaving will give you the most time to relax on the go before stopping for a feeding break.
The same goes when leaving your destination. When I was at the mall for example, I would feed my son before heading to the grocery store where it’s harder to find a spot to stop and nurse.
The last thing you want is a hungry baby in the back of your car while you’re stuck in traffic, so by planning feeds accordingly, your baby will be happy ...and a happy baby is a happy mommy.
9 Read Hunger Cues
When you're out and about, you hope your children will behave like angels, but everyone knows that a hungry baby is a loud baby. Babies don’t care what you’re doing or who’s watching. If they’re hungry, they want their food five minutes ago and they will make sure everyone knows it.
By learning to read your baby’s hunger cures, you can find a spot to breastfeed and get comfortable before full blown screams fill up the air.
Every baby is different, but common signs that hunger will strike soon include mouth sucking and sucking on hands. When my baby is hungry, he makes sucking motions on his arm or on my chest if I’m holding him.
Another tip to know if hunger cries are on the horizon is to check your watch. If you know that your baby eats approximately every two hours, fifteen minutes before, get in line for a coffee and find a comfortable spot to sit.
Of course, sometimes your baby will pull a fit with no warning signs. If that happens, just stay calm and smile and nod at strangers until you can feed your baby.
8 Find Good Spots
Although you should feel free to breastfeed anywhere, finding a good spot always helps.
At a restaurant, you may want to scope out the place and ask to sit in a booth or corner table if that will make you feel more comfortable.
Many malls and stores now have designated nursing rooms which are awesome. When my mom accompanied me in a nursing room, she told me places like that didn’t exist when she had me. It's nice to see that more places are keeping moms in mind as time goes on.
Depending on your location, there are apps offered to search for nursing rooms, but also never be shy to ask. Sometimes stores have rooms available that you wouldn’t have known about if you didn’t ask.
I live in Montreal where a new network called Route du lait was established. It offers nursing moms with a list of breastfeeding-friendly businesses in the city that support mothers. Hundreds of businesses including cafés, shops and offices offer a welcoming space for mothers to breastfeed. Hopefully, other cities will follow by example.
Whether or not you find a designated nursing area, remember that you have the right to breastfeed wherever you want to.
7 Consider Using A Cover
When you’re on the go, sometimes you need to whip out a boob in the most random places, but if the thought of breastfeeding in front of others makes your uncomfortable, you may consider using a cover.
There are many nursing covers on the market, but essentially all it is a piece of fabric that gives you privacy while feeding your baby. If you don’t want to wear a gigantic bib, a regular blanket, scarf or shawl can do the job as well.
If you are using a cover over your baby’s head, make sure the fabric is lightweight and breathable, such as a cotton muslin blanket. That being said, many babies hate having a cover over their head and no one can blame them. There are many ways to breastfeed discreetly without building a fort over you and your baby. You can simply use fabric to hide the top of your breast while your baby’s head covers the rest.
Try playing with different options at home to see what works for you and your baby.
6 Have No Shame
It’s worth stressing again that you can breastfeed anyway you want to. If you rather not fuss around with your clothes and a cover just in case someone sneaks a peak at your goods for a second, then do whatever works for you.
It’ll never make sense to me why breastfeeding offends some people, yet it’s socially acceptable for women to walk around with push-up bras and low cut tops. In a society obsessed with sex, people who are uncomfortable by women who breastfeed in public should be reminded that breastfeeding is not a sexual act. It’s worth noting that I’m referring to a North American/Australian culture, because in many places in the world, the controversial topic doesn't even exist and breastfeeding in public is completely normalized.
At the end of the day, always remember it's your boobs, your baby and your business. No one else's opinion matters, so feed freely ladies.
5 Keep Things Safe And Sanitary
I keep advocating that you should feel free to breastfeed anywhere, but there are exceptions to this advice when safety and hygiene is compromised.
Breastfeeding on the go is a term that refers to breastfeeding when you’re out and about, such as when you’re running errands, and not while you’re running a marathon.
Be smart and always prioritize safety. For example, when you’re on the go, your car might be a good place to nurse your baby, but if it’s a hot summer day, don't keep the windows up or park in the sun. Also, it’s probably a good idea to make sure the car isn’t actually moving. Find a safe parking spot, put your handbrake on and feed your baby with comfort and safety in mind.
When it comes to keeping things sanitary, stay out of places like toilet stalls. If you’re too embarrassed to breastfeed in front of an audience, choose a spot that people haven’t used to do their business.
Always find a spot that is clean and safe and you’ll be good to go.
4 Keep A Bag Handy
Moms carry big bags for a reason. Whether you have a diaper bag or an over sized purse, never leave the house without being well-equipped for the inevitable.
At home, you’ve got everything you need to handle spills, spit ups and poop explosions, but when you’re on the road, cleaning up disasters isn’t as easy. Wherever you are, make sure your bag comes with you.
Breastfeeding can be messy because babies are messy. Besides diapers, make sure your bag is packed with nursing pads, blankets and spare clothes (for you and your baby). Wipes are also essential and should never be forgotten. When you’re in high traffic areas or places that don’t get cleaned often, like an airplane seat, it’s a good idea to wipe down germy surfaces before getting comfortable with your baby.
Whether you pop in a nursing room or go for a picnic, make sure your bag is at arm’s reach.
3 Focus On Baby
Life as a mom is busy and chaotic. It’s easy to get caught up in everything and forget to slow down and appreciate what mattes. The same is true when breastfeeding.
When worrying about so many details, the very reason why you breastfeed may slip your mind. Behind all the silly controversy, there is an innocent baby who just wants to eat in the comfort of your arms.
No matter where you are, when you’re breastfeeding sometimes it’s best to tune the world out and focus on your baby. Instead of caring about what other people think, notice how happy your baby is while sucking away.
Breastfeeding is a great way to bond with your child, and that shouldn’t be any different away from home. No matter where you are, keep calm, relax and nurse your baby with ease. If you let it, breastfeeding can be relaxing instead of stressful. Don’t rush, don’t worry, and just enjoy your time with you baby because before you know it, your little one won’t be so little anymore.
2 Pump It Up
Breastfeeding is often the most convenient option. When your baby is with you, your boobs are easily accessible and your milk is always at the right temperature. Sometimes though, pumping your milk and bottle-feeding can be very helpful.
Depending where you are, sometimes bottle-feeding is an easier option, especially since someone other than you can feed your baby. Better yet, breastfeeding on the go can be replaced with leaving your baby at home with your partner or a sitter. Every mama needs a break and getting out on your own is a great way to recharge your batteries.
Pumping your milk can also be a good way to keep your baby on breast milk if you aren’t always available.
Pumping wasn’t an option for me, because until my baby was nine months old, he only wanted to real thing and refused all bottles despite all my efforts… but that’s another story. If your baby will take a bottle, never feel guilty to pump some milk for your convenience.
1 Strive For Progress
Even with a mountain of helpful advice, the only thing left to do is get out there and improve as you go. As you ease into your mommy role, you’ll figure out what works best for you and you’ll naturally perfect your skills.
Even though you’ll become a pro with time, expect challenges to arise and accept the unwritten law that all parents face: Just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, everything changes. While a newborn might not latch on well, an older baby might get easily distracted and throw a fit while you try to breastfeed. Every baby is different and every stage will test your patience and tolerance.
By knowing that things will never be perfect, you can strive for progress and become more badass through every tough moment you get through.
At the end of the day, there are many ways to breastfeed, but the only thing that matters is that you and your baby are happy. So happy nursing to all ...at home and on the go.