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Afraid to Breastfeed? You Are Not Alone.

Even in 2023, although breastfeeding is a recommended way to feed your baby, it’s not been normalised in society. Very few places on this earth are 100% accepting of it, so it’s no wonder that the vibe rubs off on new mums to have mixed feelings about breastfeeding.

Whether you are new to breastfeeding, plan to breastfeed, wished you had or simply want to find out more about the whole experience, this is the place to pick up some nuggets of wisdom! And a few handy tips from other nursing mamas and maternal experts.

Common feelings about breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is a bit of a mixed bag. Some people are accepting, and others are not so much. Some people see it as completely natural, and others feel grossed out by it. But I can assure you that you can’t please everyone (or change their minds about it!).

Is my body capable?

It’s not uncommon for a Mum to doubt their abilities when it comes to breastfeeding. Especially if you are new to or previously had a bad experience. “Are my breasts too small to produce milk?”, “Will I be able to supply enough milk for my baby?”, “How can I breastfeed a newborn with other children to look after?”. I can safely say, I’ve asked all of those questions and been pleasantly surprised (and reassured) with the answer!

The thing is every baby is different! Some take to it like a duck to water and others need a little more hand-holding. Whatever your struggle, there’s always a solution and way forward to help you and your baby. That includes trying a different way of feeding if breastfeeding doesn’t work out for you.

Read Ceara’s story about her breastfeeding journey with both of her children, and how her support network helped her to succeed.

A mother breastfeeding her newborn baby in bed, fostering a special bond through nourishment and closeness

What will people think when I’m breastfeeding in public?

First of all, you know what is best for you and your baby. What you decide to do and how you do it is completely up to you, and not up for public debate. Other people’s opinions about breastfeeding are not going to feed your baby! You are an amazing woman who is giving her child comfort, nourishment, and security. Don’t let other people tell you otherwise.

"At first, I could not imagine how I would be able to feed the twins away from home. I was really nervous, as they each took half an hour to feed, and I would only be able to feed 1 at a time when I was out. But then I became so confident that I hardly noticed I was feeding them." – Claire, UK

With that being said, it’s important to know your rights. In the UK for example, it states in the Equality Act (2010) that it is discrimination to treat a woman unfavourably because they are breastfeeding. The NHS website also states,” You should not ever be made to feel uncomfortable about breastfeeding in public. It is illegal for anyone to ask a breastfeeding woman to leave a public place, such as a cafe, shop, or public transport.

Read our e-guide: Protecting Your Mental Wellbeing While Breastfeeding

It didn’t work out for me before, should I try again?

If you had a bad experience previously, please don’t let that be a reason not to try it again if you want to breastfeed your baby. There are lots of reasons why breastfeeding doesn’t always work out for some mums but there is also a lot of support out there to help you enjoy the experience and succeed with it.

One mother shared her experience with me, “The first time was easier than breastfeeding the second time around. But I felt like I owed 12 months breastmilk to my daughter because I had done so with her older brother. After overcoming tongue tie, low birth weight, premature birth, etc. I pumped and breastfed exclusively with support. The support made all the difference to our breastfeeding journey.

The WHO recommends that a baby is breastfed exclusively for the first 6 months of their life and then up to 2 years old. Whichever way you choose to feed your baby is up to you, there is no right or wrong way. At Lola&Lykke we encourage the ethos of “Fed is best” and our panel of maternal experts is the same.

We touch on this more in our blog post “Common Challenges with Breastfeeding – What to Do?” if you want to check out some resources and organisations to connect with.

How to breastfeed in public

Exclusively breastfeeding a baby means that you are feeding on demand, and there’s going to come a time when you will be away from home, and you will need to nurse your baby. To ease any anxieties or concerns, here are some tips to help you breastfeed in public with confidence

1. Find somewhere quiet and comfortable

If you feel at ease, so will your baby. The fewer distractions you have in your surroundings will make it easier to feed too. Don’t feel like you should go to the toilets to nurse your baby, there are lots of places you can go in public to get a bit of privacy.

2. Use a breastfeeding cover or nursing top

There are so many choices when it comes to breastfeeding accessories and nursing clothes. All are designed to help you nurse or pump discreetly. Some nursing tops have clips or zips tucked under an extra layer, while others simply cross over the front. There are nursing covers that you can also use as a baby’s bib or car seat cover, the choice is endless! Here’s one of my favourites: Cover Me Breastfeeding Cover

3. Practice at home first

Before venturing out, try breastfeeding at home first. Practice wearing a cover or use a muslin if you prefer. Sit in front of a mirror so you can see how you both look and choose the right position that works best. You’ll feel more prepared and confident for doing this first rather than winging with a crying baby in tow!

Shy Mum, Vicky, shares her experiences about feeding in public in her post here.

A mother practicing breastfeeding at home with her baby

Help yourself enjoy the experience

A happy parent equals a happy baby. Breastfeeding is a natural experience, but it doesn’t always come naturally to some mums and that’s OK. As Diane Mariechild said, “A woman is the full circle. Within her is the power to create, nurture and transform.”. I love coming back to this quote because it magnifies the huge celebration of what women are capable of.

And, trust the process! Breastfeeding, whether it’s your first time or your second or third, there will always be a new challenge with every journey. There is more support for breastfeeding mothers than ever and it’s ready and waiting for you to tap into.

You can get support from a lactation consultant, midwife or doctor, and organisations such as NCT or La Leche League. Some services offer 1:1 appointments in person, virtually or over the phone. Read up on breastfeeding with books or blogs (like ours) to get the lowdown on everything a nursing mama needs to know.

You can also ask our panel of experts about any breastfeeding-related questions you have. Send your questions to us via our website and get a response back using the online chat feature.