Breastfeeding in public
Some mothers feel uncomfortable breastfeeding in public. You have the right to breastfeed your baby wherever and whenever your baby is hungry. There are laws that protect breastfeeding mothers. If you find it hard to breastfeed in public, you can try some of the tips below for breastfeeding discreetly.
Tips for breastfeeding in public
- Wear clothes that allow easy access to your breasts, such as tops that pull up from the waist or button down.
- Use a blanket around your shoulders to cover anything you don't want to expose in public.
- Breastfeed your baby in a sling. Slings or other soft infant carriers are especially helpful for traveling. They make it easier to keep your baby comforted and close to you. But be aware that infant slings can be a suffocation danger for babies. Check with the Consumer Product Safety Commission for warnings before buying a sling.
- Use a women's lounge or dressing room in stores if you prefer to breastfeed in a private or quiet space.
- Practice breastfeeding at home with the blanket or other covering techniques if you plan to use them so that you and your baby are comfortable breastfeeding that way.
It helps to breastfeed your baby before he or she becomes fussy, so that you have time to get into a comfortable place or position to feed. (Over time, you will learn your baby's early hunger cues.) When you get to your destination, find a place you can breastfeed where you will feel most comfortable.
Tips for handling criticism
If someone criticizes you for breastfeeding in public, remember that the law protects your right to feed your baby any place you need to. You do not need to respond to anyone who criticizes you for breastfeeding. If you feel in danger, move away from the person criticizing you and look for people who can support you.
Remember that you are meeting your baby's needs. It isn't possible to stay home all the time, and you should (and can) feel free to feed your baby while you are out and about. You should be proud of your commitment! Plus, no bottles mean fewer supplies to pack and no worries about getting the milk to the right temperature.
Talk to other breastfeeding moms about how they have handled criticism in public. While no one should ever criticize you for feeding your baby, it might help to know ahead of time what other moms have done in a similar situation.
Did we answer your question about breastfeeding in public?
For more information about breastfeeding in public, call the OWH Helpline at 1-800-994-9662 or check out the following resources from other organizations:
- Breastfeeding State Laws – Information from the National Council of State Legislatures.
- The CDC Guide to Strategies to Support Breastfeeding Mothers and Babies (PDF, 2.5 MB)
- The Surgeon General's Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding (PDF, 925 KB)