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breastfeeding in public

Breastfeeding when out and about is something some mums don’t even think twice about. However, others worry so much that they don’t go out, or they try to rush out between feeds. Or when they do go out they give their baby bottle formula. It’s a real shame as there are lots of ways to make breastfeeding really quick and discreet when you are out and about.

Do I have any legal protection if I would like to breastfeed in public?

You are entitled to breastfeed in public places in Ireland. It’s good to know that the law is behind you, and nobody can challenge you and throw you out of anywhere for breastfeeding. Actually you can often breastfeed without anyone even noticing, and it’s much less disruptive for everyone to have you quietly feeding your baby who’s tucked up your T-shirt than it is to have you trying to comfort a really hungry baby by juggling them up and down while they’re crying! So it can be very, very discreet but it’s a good idea to have a chat to some of your friends about little tips they may have for ways to breastfeed discreetly while you’re out and about.

How can I breastfeed discreetly?

There are several things you can do to breastfeed discreetly in public:

  • Some mums just pop their baby up their T-shirt (while they don’t worry about showing their breasts, they sometimes worry about showing their tummy so may put a scarf over it!)
  • Some mums use a scarf or muslin over their shoulder so they just feel a bit more secure and covered
  • There are also loads of breastfeeding tops available nowadays, designed so that you can breastfeed without people being able to see your breasts or your stomach
  • Ask around to find out if there are places that particularly welcome breastfeeding mums, and which may even offer somewhere private for you to breastfeed

Some cafés and most nursery retailers have breastfeeding zones, so you can always plan to go and feed there if you are on the high street or at an out-of-town retail park.

Real mums’ experiences

Claire, mum to Amy, four months

“I’ve had much more luck feeding Amy out in public. I was very self-conscious with my first child but I guess I am more prepared now. I dress slightly more appropriately so she can feed easily and I know that people aren’t actually watching – there’s far more going on that they are interested in. So we’ve been out and about a lot. With my son I used to make sure he was full before we’d go anywhere, then race around and be home again before he needed feeding. I had this perception that everybody was watching, when most people don’t even notice what you’re up to. If you’re trying to calm a screaming, hungry baby, you attract a lot more attention to yourself than if you just feed them, but it takes a while to realise that.”