Breastfeeding in public - clothes, tips, and experiences from life in the mum lane
Over 10 years ago, a chance meeting on a boat in Thailand led to the Milk Tops team gaining two very dear friends, Sarah and Becky, two recent graduates off on their own adventure before joining the corporate grind (we, on the other hand, had just finished sixth form). Little could we have known then that nearly a decade later the four of us would be chatting about the lack of appealing breastfeeding clothes on offer and this would lead to Milk Tops London being born.
Now that milktopslondon.co.uk is up and running with its base collection of stylish, everyday wardrobe staples for nursing, it only seemed right that we had a catch-up.
We met Becky (now treasury accountant for a large UK children’s charity, lover of Hotel Chocolat, running in the rain, and mother of 1 with baby number 2 on the way) to reflect on her experiences with breastfeeding in public first time around, the clothes she wore and specifically breastfeeding in public - after all, that’s where the clothes are really put to the test!
Firstly, what was your frustration with the clothes that were on offer for you when breastfeeding? What was important to you?
I really struggled to find a good selection of breastfeeding tops. Particularly those which gave you some modesty when feeding, and those which were easy to use one-handed. I ended up with several jersey fabric stretchy t-shirt style ones which I wore all through summer. It would have been great to have something a bit more stylish.
Things which were important to me in terms of breastfeeding clothes were: comfort, practicality and look. After a night of no sleep, putting on something which makes you feel good is a winner!
What kind of clothes did you use for feeding in public?
I went for specifically designed breastfeeding tops rather than using makeshift versions of my own clothes, as I wanted maximum discreetness. I also used a breastfeeding cover [as described to Milk Tops, similar to a tea towel with a collar – very sexy! – but also extremely practical], especially in the early days, to add that little more privacy.
Helpful: Read our article about how, when and where to buy nursing tops
Of the items you found, what was your favourite piece of clothing for venturing out and about in?
A favourite was a jersey t-shirt style number which had an inner vest so that both the top of my chest and stomach were covered. Super casual and comfy. I did, however, have a wedding to attend whilst I was exclusively breastfeeding and wore a high neck, capped sleeve dress, which I already owned. It only had a zip at the back for access so, for me, definitely not one for public breastfeeding! Luckily my hotel room was very close to the reception, so I could nip back for feeding times but I would have liked a dress I could have fed in without leaving the party – like the one you’ve designed!
How did you feel the first time you fed in public?
The first time I fed in public was at a local cafe when my daughter was 6 days old. I was very self-conscious at the time and struggled to manoeuvre the baby, my top, my bra, and the cover-up I was wearing. I didn't have a clue what I was doing! No one paid the slightest bit of attention to what was going on though, and I soon became much more comfortable feeding in public.
Did you have any particularly memorable experiences of public breastfeeding?
I didn’t have any negative experiences from the public [yay!] but did have a number of nice moments when people from older generations came over to say how nice it was to see breastfeeding in public.
[ How reassuring! BTW, Made for Mums have a great article on your rights for breastfeeding in public and provide some helpful advice to cope with any misinformed comments, should you be subjected to them: your rights]
Are there any improvements you think could be made to public places (particularly cafes and restaurants) to make life easier for breastfeeding ladies?
I don’t think there’s anything they could do specifically for breastfeeding but I think generally they could allow for more room. You have a lot of items with you – a pram, baby bag, the baby(!) – so often it’s difficult to find space for all of these items and also have enough room to manoeuvre into a comfy position for breastfeeding.
To wrap up, any parting words of wisdom for new breastfeeding mums?
Stick with it – the first month will be painful but get some nipple cream and power on through – the more you feed, the less it hurts. Having said that, I know there can be great pressure placed on new mums to breastfeed. Breastfeeding isn’t for every mum and baby and if it doesn’t work out for you – don’t worry. The most important thing is that your baby is happy and healthy. Lastly, if you do breastfeed – enjoy it. It’s a lovely way to bond with your baby and it doesn’t last forever.
Dinner was at Cinnamon Bazar in Covent Garden, London. Most definitely recommended for anyone who loves their Indian food plus the décor is fab – shout out to Diane Hill (@dianehilldesigns) for the beautiful artwork.
This post is brought to you by Milk Tops London — Feel like a boss with our nursing tops, shirts, and dresses.
Also on our new mum blog:
- 12 best organic nipple creams for breastfeeding mums
- When and where to buy nursing tops and maternity wear