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Breastfeeding in public

Photo credit: May Burke Photography

Some mothers feel uncomfortable breastfeeding in public. But remember that you are feeding your baby. You are not doing anything wrong. And even though it may seem taboo in some places, awareness of the support new mothers need is building. There are also 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. But it is important to believe in yourself and your choice to breastfeed your baby. Remind yourself that you can succeed, and wear your confidence!

Some tips for breastfeeding in public include:

  • Wear clothes that allow easy access to your breasts, such as tops that pull up from the waist or button down.
  • Use a special breastfeeding blanket around your shoulders.
  • Breastfeed your baby in a sling. Slings or other soft infant carriers are especially helpful for traveling — it makes it easier to keep your baby comforted and close to you. But be aware that infant slings can be a danger. Check with the Consumer Product Safety Commission for warnings before buying a sling.
  • Slip into a women's lounge or dressing room to breastfeed.
  • Practice breastfeeding at home, so that you can ensure you are only being as revealing as you feel comfortable with.
  • Face the wall at a restaurant or sit in a booth.

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.

If someone criticizes you for breastfeeding in public, La Leche League International offers a few different ways to respond:

  • Ignore the comment or change the subject.
  • Share information on breastfeeding with the other person.
  • Make a joke about the situation or yourself to lighten the mood.
  • Show you see the person's viewpoint by asking questions but not responding to the criticism.
  • Be empathetic. Show you understand how the person feels.

Most of all, it is important to 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.

All material contained on this page is free of copyright restrictions and may be copied, reproduced, or duplicated without permission of the Office on Women's Health in the Department of Health and Human Services. Citation of the source is appreciated.

Content last updated: July 21, 2014


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This information in Spanish (en español)


Breastfeeding fact sheet
(PDF, 160KB)

Your Guide to Breastfeeding
This easy-to-read publication has how-to information and support to help women breastfeed successfully.

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