It’s autumn. The leaves are starting to fall, the nights are drawing in and everything is starting to slow down—everything, that is, except our breastfeeding routines. But the cosy season doesn’t mean breastfeeding mums have to stay at home.
Us UK mums are well used to the unpredictable British weather, so we know that whatever autumn throws at us, it’s not going to stop us getting out and about with our babies. We might need to stretch our legs in the park, catch up with the girls for brunch, or make good use of our maternity leave by taking a day trip to one of Britain’s many historical sites.
We can do the things we always did, it’s just now we need to fit our nursing schedule into the good times. And why shouldn’t we? Breastfeeding in public should never be a cause for concern, especially in the UK where breastfeeding mothers’ rights are clear.
But maybe you’re a new mum or you’ve been uncomfortable breastfeeding in public in the past. If that’s the case, I want to share my advice for breastfeeding in public with other UK mums. So, here are my top tips that’ll make breastfeeding when you’re out and about easy and stress-free.
- Practise at Home
Not every mum is confident about breastfeeding. I promise you, confidence comes with practice but, as the Boy Scouts motto says, it’s best to “be prepared”. Practising will not only help you gain confidence but allow you to figure out your preferred ways to breastfeed your baby in public.
Try different breastfeeding positions and settings at home, and don’t forget your garden. It’s good to get used to breastfeeding outside so that if your baby’s feed coincides with a walk along a towpath, you’re comfortable with it.
- Dress for Comfort and Accessibility
It may seem obvious, but wear clothing that’s going to make you feel comfortable, especially if you’re doing something active like doing your big shop or taking your older kids to the park.
Personally, I prefer long-line front-buttoning shirts and oversized knits because I like to keep myself covered, but we’re all different. Forming fitting clothing is fine—but make it stretchy—jersey material works well for pulling up and over when you need to.
I swear by my Momcozy nursing bra because of its flexibility. It provides extra support, has detachable cups for breastfeeding, and can be worn when I’m pumping too—a total win-win.
- Use a Baby Wrap
Baby slings, wraps, or carriers are a great tool for breastfeeding mums because of their flexibility. They do their thing as a baby carrier, but they work great for mums who want a bit more privacy when breastfeeding. The one I use is easy to wear and hands-free.
Let’s say, you’re on a day trip to Salisbury and you’re browsing the market stalls. You realise it’s time for your baby’s feed. You can transform your baby wrap into a sling that positions your baby perfectly for nursing whilst maintaining your modesty. It’s not a necessity, but some mothers find comfort in having that extra layer of privacy. Find a bench and you’re good to go!
- Pump & Go
Whichever way your baby gets your milk—it’s breastfeeding. That includes pumping, either at home before you head out into public or while you’re out. Pumping is also great for mums who aren’t as confident breastfeeding in public. If I’m out for the day or on a mini break, I can pump my milk and feed my baby wherever I am. To make it easier I use a pumping bra room for my fantastic . This way, if I choose not to nipple feed, my baby is still breastfed
It’s always good to have everything you need in one place. I have a brilliant bag that doubles as a pram organiser—it clips right on the handle. It’s not too bulky, holds all my essentials including my pump. It also has a handy phone holder—don’t judge me for scrolling when I nurse—a girl’s got to keep up with the ‘Strictly…’ goss sometime!
- 5. Find Breastfeeding-Friendly Locations
If breastfeeding your baby outside doesn’t do it for you, UK mums are lucky. Many public places in the UK are breastfeeding-friendly, including cafes, parks, shopping centres and libraries. A quick internet search will show you hundreds of breastfeeding-friendly establishments, but it’s good to know that all Pizza Express restaurants in Britain welcome breastfeeding mums.
You’ll get to know the places locally that will make you welcome quite quickly. But if your location is unfamiliar, you can either look for a ‘We are breastfeeding welcome’ sticker which indicates a business’ support for breastfeeding mothers or ask an assistant to help you.
- Bring a Supportive Friend or Family Member
Some of us are confident breastfeeding in public, some of us aren’t—we’re all different. I wasn’t always confident in the early days. That’s why me and some girls from my postnatal class regularly met up in different public places until we all got into the groove.
Having a supportive friend, partner or family member with you can provide emotional support and encouragement. Their presence can make you feel more at ease and confident when breastfeeding in public. And if there are any issues, you can let your friends deal with them and concentrate on feeding your baby.
- Wonder Woman
Breastfeeding is a natural and essential part of motherhood. But it would be foolish to pretend British women aren’t still fighting against sexism and bigotry. In fact, it might surprise you to know that we were only granted the legal right to breastfeed in public in 2010.
We UK mums are proud of our choice to breastfeed our babies, so remember that the opinions of others don’t define your worth as a mother or as a woman. Ignore any judgmental stares or comments and focus on the beautiful connection you share with your child.
- It’s OK to Try Again
Mums are amazing but none of us are perfect. Breastfeeding doesn’t always go as planned even when we’re in the comfort of our own homes, let alone when our we and our babies are in a different environment.
If breastfeeding in public doesn’t go right the first, second or third time, don’t give up. Like riding a bike, it takes time and perseverance—oh, and a lot of our famous British sense of humour.
Breastfeeding in public places in the UK should be a positive and empowering experience for mothers. By knowing that you are legally allowed to breastfeed in public anywhere in Britain, by planning ahead and by surrounding yourself with supportive people you can confidently nurture your baby while enjoying the freedom to explore our beautiful country together.
Let’s celebrate the beauty of breastfeeding and work together to create a society where every mother feels respected and supported, whether she chooses to breastfeed underneath the signpost at John O Groats or the one at Land’s End.