A couple of weeks ago, I was breastfeeding on a lounge chair in a mall. Coincidentally, the baby room was just a few steps ahead. Then came a mom from the baby room, and she told me to use the nursing room as it was empty. I told her, “no thank you, I’m good”. Actually I feel sorry for moms who rely on nursing rooms because I know it’s not the most convenient thing. In fact, I stay away from nursing room. Here’s why.
- It smells like diaper change. People constantly coming in and out changing their babies. Of course it smells like baby’s stools.
- It’s usually small and lonely (I don’t think my husband enjoys accompanying me because of the diaper smell).
- Most of all, I hate having to feel like I’m hiding to feed my baby. I’d like to feel free feeding my baby wherever I please, thank you very much.
When I first went out in public, I was terrified and insecure about breastfeeding in public. We started bringing her out at 3 weeks. At first I was self-conscious about nursing in public (NIP). I had to run to the nursing room to feed her and even at the most familiar mall, I still didn’t know where the baby room was because I never noticed it before!
A week before I had the guts to go out, I practiced nursing my baby in the nursing cover, she was barely 3 weeks old then. The practice was for me, and for her to get used to. Luckily she’s not a fussy baby and she doesn’t mind being in the nursing cover at all. However, even then, I still didn’t have the guts to NIP during our first outing. Either I resort to rely on nursing room or pack expressed breast milk (EBM) and hot water. Packing EBM is such a hassle, do you know how heavy those icepacks are?
Finally, I gathered my guts and breastfed in public for the first time at Subang Parade when I was out with my sister. Then, slowly I started feeling confident. Next thing I knew I was breastfeeding her everywhere. In Ikea, The Mines, in restaurants, whenever, wherever as long as there’s a seat. So all it took was practice! and the right gear.
Here’s some tips on NIP (based on MY personal experience)
1. Get the right gears to breastfeed discreetly. Nursing wear, or breastfeeding-friendly wear will certainly make it easier. For added privacy, get a nursing cover.
2. Be aware of the feeding time and your baby’s early cues. Screaming baby attracts attention, and may make NIP difficult. So, as soon as you see the cues, find a place to NIP.
3. It’s all about mentality. If formula-fed babies can feed in public, breastfed babies should get the same rights. Try to think of it as advocating breastfeeding in this world where formula feeding is becoming the norm. Actually, you should feel blessed to be able to give the best for your baby!
4. Don’t hesitate to ask for help. You’ll be surprised how accommodating people can be when it comes to nursing your baby.
Once, I needed to NIP when I was at a department store, and there was nowhere to sit. Not even outside the store. So I just asked one of the staff for a chair, and they kindly grabbed a stool for me and I nursed her right there, at one of the aisles like nobody’s business. Cool ey?
There was also this one time when I was at a mall with Sara alone, I saw a row of lounge chairs but not one was available. There were several elderly and then I saw one healthy able guy. So I politely asked him to give up his seat so that I can nurse Sara. Fortunately he respected my request and kindly gave up his seat. The point is, you can have faith in people and hope they’ll be nice to you.
Another reason to NIP? Convenience. Baby’s hungry? Sure, just find a seat, pop up my nursing cover and within 20 minutes, she’s done. Compared to bottle feeding, I have to mix the formula with water or heat up the expressed breast milk and while all that, try to calm the hungry baby. Oh, that’s just too much trouble for me, especially having to pack so much! Bottles, water, hot water, the milk. What if I forget one thing??
With NIP, I only have to pack for her diaper change and I’m all set. I find NIP is very empowering. I love it! It’s a win-win for me and Sara. She gets to feed on cue, and I get to have my freedom. Sure, it slows me down a bit, but hey, it’s just 20mins every 2 hours. I might as well catch up on instagram or just have a chat with my husband while I’m at it.
Next up, learning how to NIP on-the-go!