Okay, so you've decided to breastfeed and everything is going great guns or near enough. But sooner or later you are going to have to venture outdoors with your little bundle! One of the greatest concerns for a lot of newly breastfeeding mothers is what to do if the baby starts screaming with hunger halfway through the weekly shopping.
Breastfed babies generally don't have to wait for their food. Usually they demand it and it is supplied instantly... but when you are standing in the frozen fish aisle of Sainsbury's can you really whip out a breast and satisfy your infant's hunger pains? Won't you get a few odd stares from fellow shoppers?
Well, fortunately nowadays many shops are taking mums concerns into account when new stores are being planned. Often decent baby changing facilities are available. But unfortunately all too often they really are only suitable for nappy changing and not the sort of place you would wish to feed your baby in. Would you like to eat your dinner in a cramped room enveloped with the distinctive undertones of eau de diaper?
If you find this is the case complain to the manager.
If there is nowhere suitable to feed your baby what are you supposed to do? We are all familiar with the image of a large-bosomed lady exposing her full breast to all and sundry as her infant suckles. But how many of us have actually witnessed such a brazen attempt at breastfeeding in public? Certainly not I! Of course it can be difficult to feed in a dignified manner for the first few feeds but how many of us are fit to leave the house during the first couple of days after the birth anyway?
It is very easy to breastfeed in public without anyone batting an eyelid. In fact any time I have had to breastfeed in public I don't believe anyone paid the slightest bit of attention to me, or even noticed at all. Of course, it is a hurdle to overcome and you will be all fingers and thumbs the first time you do it, but practice makes perfect, and you'll be an expert at it after the first couple of attempts.
A word of warning though. Make sure you wear something loose and easy to pull up. You may want to wear a couple of layers because often the only indication that you are breastfeeding will be a bare back so a cardigan or light jacket can be helpful. Some mothers find capes or ponchos very useful and others swear by their baby sling.
However you manage it you should not feel intimidated by well-meaning strangers asking you if you've "forgotten his wee bottle". Be proud to say that you are breastfeeding and you are looking for a suitable spot in which you can nourish your little one. You may be surprised by the positive reactions you receive, particularly from the older generation...
About the Author: Sinead Hoben is the proud mum of three beautiful children aged 6 years, 3 years and 9 months old, all of whom were breastfed. She is currently still breastfeeding her youngest child. A qualified teacher, she now runs her own website, http://www.breastfeedingmums.com, which addresses many of the concerns of breastfeeding mums. www.breastfeedingmums.com offers free breastfeeding information and advice to both breastfeeding and expectant mums.