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The benefits of breastfeeding in public

You’re nursing your baby in public and somebody makes a rude comment or gives you a nasty look. Thankfully it doesn't happen often, but it does happen. Most moms feel a bit of anxiety when they first nurse in public. Some moms are very uncomfortable with the entire notion. It’s this apprehension that can cause the breastfeeding relationship between mom and baby to come to a screeching halt. The reality? When you breastfeed in public, few people are aware, and even fewer care. It also goes without saying that a quiet, satisfied baby draws fewer stares than a fussy, hungry one (that is, unless your little one is especially vocal about his appetite for "dining out").

The laws

If you're uncertain about about your options, you may feel better knowing your local government supports your decision. Forty-five states, the District of Columbia, and the Virgin Islands have laws that specifically allow women to breastfeed in any public or private location. Some of these states offer additional protection. It is not illegal in any state.

Benefits of nursing in public

There are many advantages: There’s nothing to prepare and you don’t need to clean any bottles. The milk is always the right temperature. You can leave the house whenever you want. And you don’t need to worry about running out of milk before you’ve finished running your errands. Some moms simply find it more relaxing to fit in with their daily activities than to fit the occasional bottle feeding in between.

When it's time for baby to dine

Granted, there’s a learning curve. It can be pretty darn awkward at first. But it’s not unlike the challenge of learning to change a diaper or learning how to work a car seat. With a little practice at home to get comfortable, the right outfit, and a bit of strategizing (it can help to have a few nursing “areas” in mind), it may be easier than you think. Some moms use a sling to support their baby. Others use a special nursing cover. But beware of the common suggestion to use a public restroom facility. Would you eat in the bathroom? Your baby shouldn’t have to, either. Here are a few more tips for when you’re out and about. The most important tip of all? Clothe yourself with a positive attitude and the right mindset. After all, you’re nourishing and nurturing your baby. Are you comfortable breastfeeding in public? How do you manage criticism? What other tips do you have?