Breastfeeding in Public

Feeding your new baby is one of the first big things you learn on the job as a parent. With the proper knowledge and tools, you can do it anywhere.

It’s no secret that newborns eat a lot. The frequent need to feed is one of the top reasons new parents stay inside their homes during the first months of their children’s lives. But stepping outside is easier than you think and doesn’t require a zillion baby products. In fact, the only important thing you need to never forget is your child.

There are plenty of benefits to getting out in the world. Even just a walk around the block can help combat the baby blues and postpartum depression. Trips are helpful for your baby, too. Exposure to new sights and sounds helps their cognitive development and fresh air can have a calming effect on your baby.

Get Your Tools

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Breastfeeding in Public

Most moms feel some apprehension the first time they breastfeed in public. They may think, What if the baby is fussy? What if someone is offended? Won’t everyone see my boobs?!

First of all, breastfeeding your baby is your right. It’s the law in most states. Some states are more accepting of breastfeeding than others, but the bottom line is that a mother is allowed to nurse her baby anywhere she is allowed to be.

It’s okay if people see your boobs; you’re feeding your baby. But there are also lots of ways to nurse discretely if that’s more comfortable for you.

  • Get creative with your closet.

    Clothing like sweatshirts or jackets provides your own personal privacy area. V-neck, low cut, and stretchy shirts make access easy. Lightweight, breathable blankets like muslin swaddles work well as makeshift nursing covers.

  • Check out clothes designed for nursing.

    Nursing tanks have straps that unbuckle allowing easy access to nurse your baby. Or look for a “naked” tank that covers up your stomach while you nurse without the built-in bra. Many parents swear by nursing scarves or simple nursing covers.

  • Practice makes perfect.

    Go to a quiet park and practice nursing in public. You will gain confidence that can help you in a less accommodating situation.

  • Look ma, no hands!

    Some women can nurse their baby right from a sling while being hands-free. Busty moms may struggle with this, so try it at home first.

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Pumping on the Go

From mothers who are returning to work to those building a milk supply to those unable to breastfeed, many new parents become intimately familiar with the breast pump and all its associated parts. But this technology need not keep you homebound. You can pump from virtually anywhere.

If you’re exclusively pumping, the most important thing is to know your schedule so you don’t go too long between sessions.

  • Cut the cord.

    If you have a battery-operated or manual pump then you don’t even need to find an outlet. In fact, many plug-in pumps are also equipped with a battery pack so you can take them anywhere.

  • Pump in the car.

    If you travel by car, it can be a good, quiet place to pump before or after your outing. Pumping pros can even pump while driving with the help of a hands-free bra.

  • Express yourself.

    If you find yourself unable to pump, you may face painful engorgement or leakage. Practice hand expression ahead of time so in a pinch you can always get the milk out.

  • Go hands-free.

    If you pump on the regular, invest in a hands-free pumping bra. They fit all sizes and secure the pump flanges in place so you have your hands free to attend to your baby — or check your phone.

So, you’ve pumped. Now what?

As a general rule of thumb, pumped milk lasts 24 hours in a cooler with ice packs, 3-8 days in a refrigerator, and months frozen.

If you’re out on a shorter trip, pumped milk is actually fine to be left at room temperature for 3-4 hours. You can even buy instant ice packs that “activate” when you squeeze them so you can leave some in your diaper bag or pump bag. So don’t fret if you’re out and not near a fridge.

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Juggling Bottles

If you’re not breastfeeding or if you’re the non-lactating partner, you need to know how to deal with bottles. New parents often have kitchens cluttered with bottle-related paraphernalia like warmers, sterilizers, and drying racks, but preparing bottles on the go doesn’t require anything more than simple planning.

A note on water — if you’re formula-feeding, consult your pediatrician on the right water to use for mixing. In some cases you may need to carry bottled or sterilized water with you; in others plain tap water is fine.

  • Stock some ready-to-feed formula.

    Keep a stash of ready-made single-serve formula bottles around. They don’t need refrigeration and are great in a pinch; just screw on a disposable nipple and discard afterwards.

  • Shake your bottle.

    Some powdered formulas come in pre-portioned packs, or you can do it yourself with a formula dispenser. Just fill the bottle with water, dump in a portion of powder, shake and go.

  • Bring breastmilk along.

    If your baby drinks expressed milk, don’t stress too much about refrigeration. A bottle of breastmilk can last at room temperature 3-4 hours, or longer if the milk is thawing from frozen.

  • Warm or cold?

    Milk that is room temperature, or even cold, is perfectly safe for your baby. If your baby will only drink warmed milk, you can buy a portable bottle warmer.

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Know Your Schedule

The key to stress-free outings is to know your baby’s feeding routine. If you wait until the baby is hungry and fussy, it will be harder to feed or nurse them successfully.

A tracking app like Baby’s Day helps you know when your baby will get hungry again. It can also help you figure out when you have two hours to run out without stopping to nurse. If you have other children or time commitments to juggle, trackers can help you plan your schedule around nursing or pumping sessions.

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Find Friendly Spaces

Knowing that a place is great for feeding a baby is helpful before you leave the house. Winnie helps you discover locations that are nursing-friendly or have mother’s rooms. More airports, stores, shopping malls, convention halls, and even sports stadiums are creating private rooms for mothers to feed and pump.

Whether you’re stepping out into your neighborhood, or journeying to a new state, you’ll find that with a few adjustments, many of the comforts of home can be brought or found on the go. So get out there and explore!

Places to Nurse & Pump in Seattle