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Breastfeeding in Public: Life as an Exhibitionist

Finally – success! I have managed to time a trip to the shops between naps, get through a car trip with no screaming fits, pick up all my bits and pieces, artfully balance shopping bags around the pram, manoeuvre myself into a coffee shop and order a latte. With precision and dexterity I manage to juggle, my hungry grizzling baby, my bra, my singlet and my shirt and get Captain Crankypants latched on.Then a loud noise behind us causes her little head to swivel around and she leaves me hanging…out…for all of Westfield to see. Oh the joys of breastfeeding in public!

I think more people have seen my breasts in the last nine months than in my entire life previously. The little one doesn’t mind, she has a good gawk around and then returns to her exposed meal until something else catches her attention. Meanwhile I’m trying to hold her, do some weird hunched shrug with my shoulder and make a grab for the nearest piece of material while bub grins cheekily up at me; she totally knows what she’s doing!

I tried covering her (and me) with muslin once and I couldn’t see her, she hated it, the material kept falling down over her face and it ended up being more hassle and drama than it was worth. So my boobs just continued to make public appearances.

I saw a product at the Pregnancy, Babies and Children’s Expo that was like an apron with an open neckline so that you could see the baby’s face while nursing and still remain covered. As I was only 14 weeks pregnant and actually breastfeeding a baby seemed a long way off, I naturally didn’t write down the brand or name! But extensive Googling resulted in discovering the Bébé au Lait Nursing Cover. It’s a great way to provide a bit of extra coverage in public for you and some privacy for bubs if they are easily distracted!

On my hunt for nursing covers I also came across something called a Cover-Me Strap. It’s an adjustable strap that has a plastic clip on each end so that you can drape a cloth across your body to feed and it will hold it in place. The benefits of the strap are that you can change the wrap you use to suit the seasons and it’s versatile enough to hold cloths on a car seat or pram. Plus they’re kind of funky!

Both of these are good options if you would rather keep your breast exposure to a small and exclusive chosen few!

Of course, if you or your baby are not comfortable with a cover or you are far more coordinated than me, then don’t feel you have to use one. Under the federal Sex Discrimination Act 1984 it’s illegal in Australia to discriminate against anyone for breastfeeding. Your baby needs to eat and no one has the right to make you feel guilty, intimidated or threatened for caring for your child.

You can contact the Breastfeeding Helpline on 1800 686 268 if you ever need legal, practical or emotional advice and support.

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