Breastfeeding in Public

Now that regulations have lifted after lockdown, we can slowly return to our normal lives. We’re now allowed to head back to our favourite brunch spots, shop at malls and enjoy all the beautiful parks and gardens our country has to offer!

If you ever decide to bring your baby with you while you’re out and about, there’s no doubt that you will eventually encounter a situation where your baby won’t stop kicking up a fuss because they’re hungry. As mamas, we know that hungry babies NEED to be fed, no matter where they are. There’s no waiting until you get home, or until it’s more convenient. So… what’s stopping us from feeding them right there and then?

For starters, breastfeeding in public can be awkward and daunting, especially if it’s not something you’ve done before. We at Haakaa are here to help explain all the ins and outs of breastfeeding in public, so you can do so with confidence next time bub starts getting restless while you’re away from home!

Where am I allowed to breastfeed?

Under New Zealand’s laws, you are 100% legally entitled to breastfeed anytime, anywhere and at any place. Whether you’re at work, on public transport, in parks and reserves or cafés and restaurants, or anywhere else – you ARE allowed to breastfeed your child! There’s really no place where you aren’t allowed. 

It is completely illegal for someone to stop you breastfeeding in public, and it’s important to know that if someone does ask you to stop or to leave because you of feeding your child, you can make a complaint against them to the Human Rights Commission. Breastfeeding is a beautiful and entirely natural act, and there’s nothing wrong with it at all. Don’t let anyone make you feel ashamed or embarrassed for fulfilling your duties as a mother! 

How do I cover up breastfeeding in public?

If you’re feeling a little shy about breastfeeding in public, or you’re worried about accidentally exposing your body while doing so, you can use a special nursing cover to help give yourself some privacy. Nursing covers are specially designed to be comfortable and discreet to use while breastfeeding, while still allowing you to look at your baby as you do so. They’re compact, so they’re handy to keep in your baby bag while you’re on-the-go, plus they come in a wide range of patterns and designs so they can be coordinated to match your outfit for the day!

What are the best clothes for breastfeeding?

Many maternity brands offer breastfeeding-friendly clothing that are specially designed for mamas to provide “easy access” for your bub. These include nursing tops, dresses and breastfeeding tunics, which are designed with discreet openings to allow you to feed your baby comfortably and effortlessly – and they’re especially convenient for when you’re out and about!

You can still be discreet without having to buy specific breastfeeding clothing too. Button or zip-up shirts and dresses are perfect for helping you breastfeed subtly, as well as clothes with side openings. One solution many mamas use is to layer up two standard tops. When it’s time for feeding, pull down the inner top so it hooks under the breast and pull up the outer top so your baby can latch.

How can I feel less anxious about breastfeeding in public?

When you breastfeed in public for the first time, you might be worried about people watching or judging you. These feelings are normal, but remember – you are well within your rights to feed your child in any space, whether that’s inside or outside your home.

Bringing a friend with you while you’re out and about can be a huge help when you have to breastfeed in public. They can assist you by helping to hold onto your bags or fetching anything you need as you feed. Having a friend around can also help you to feel more confident and relaxed, as you won’t feel like everyone is staring if there’s two of you! 

Take baby steps to breastfeed in public. You can start with breastfeeding your child at a friend’s house and begin learning how to be comfortable in an environment away from home. Afterwards, you can start feeding in newer, but supportive surroundings like mothers’ groups. Slowly but surely, you can build your way up to feeding in public while with a friend, and then feeding in public by yourself! 

You can also try breastfeeding your baby in front of a mirror to start with, so you can see what you look like. Many mamas often have misconceptions about how obvious they’ll look when they’re breastfeeding when in reality, it’s likely that the people around you will barely notice! Your baby’s head and body will cover most of your breast from being exposed, so there’s not much that will be seen by others. 

Remember mamas, what you’re doing is natural and there is absolutely NOTHING to be embarrassed about. Breastfeeding is beautiful, and it’s not something that you should be made to hide away! The first few times you breastfeed in public can be nervewracking, but the more you do it and embrace it, the more confident you’ll become. The Haakaa team and community are behind you 100%, as we believe it’s so valuable to normalise breastfeeding in our society. You’re amazing, mama!