Breastfeeding in Public – Where are Dads?

Written by Tim Barnes-Clay

Public breastfeeding can daunt even the most experienced mums, but far from letting them tackle it alone, dads need to understand that their involvement can help make the process feel both natural and easy.

With critics maligning the practise for years despite it being a legal right in the UK, it’s been incredibly refreshing to see a move towards wider cultural acceptance of breastfeeding in public over the past few years – evidenced by mums across the internet showing their solidarity by posting their breastfeeding selfies online, with the likes of Angelina Jolie, Tamara Ecclestone and Jaime King all joining in with the ‘brelfie’ hashtag. However, the question still remains: where are the dads in all those photos?

Many fathers don’t realise that feeding time is the perfect opportunity for them to bond with their child and more than that, become an important figure of support to their partners – which is especially needed outside of the home.

To help dads get involved, Director at Hardenberg & Co Julie Ebrey, a long-term breast feeder herself, has delved into her years of experience and shared some top tips:

Be supportive

Studies show that the more supportive and active the father is in breastfeeding, the more likely mothers are to stick with the habit. So, give your partner lots of encouragement and positive reinforcement, especially during those difficult early days. She will appreciate the care and attention and it’ll help soothe any lingering anxieties.

Prioritise Her Comfort

Public breastfeeding succeeds or fails in the setup. The location should be relatively quiet and uncrowded. Don’t forget to make sure she is sitting comfortably.

A common stressor for mothers feeding in public is the worry of revealing too much. You can help by positioning a blanket, scarf or breastfeeding cover gently over mum and the baby, letting her concentrate fully on latching.

Defend Her Rights

Minimising fuss and discomfort prior to the feeding will reduce the potential attention drawn in the first place. But if someone can’t resist voicing their opinion, you can ease stress by defending your partner’s right to feed your child, as the law is firmly on her side. Remember, handled in the right way, your confidence and calmness will help reassure your partner.

Educate Yourself

If you take some time to learn the ins and outs of breastfeeding, you’ll be more confident playing the role of knowledgeable assistant. Mums report feeling marooned when their baby is latched on and so having an ‘expert’ on hand can be a crucial lifeline.

Remember Small Details

Often, it’s the little things that help most. Breastfeeding uses up energy, so keep food and water handy for your partner. Chances are she’ll need at least one. Does the child need burping afterwards? Is Mum worn out and in need of a break? Get the ‘aftercare’ handled and you’ll win plenty of brownie points.

Get ‘Hands-on’

If you want to take a more direct role with your child during the feeding process, you may find you enjoy bottle feeding with expressed milk. Shopping for breast pumps shoudn’t be an intimidating affair, as the technology has become sophisticated enough to sit alongside your smartphone and laptop. The key
is to invest in quality from an effective and trusted source.

Ameda, established in the breastfeeding industry for over 70 years, has brought professional and hospital-approved pump technology into UK homes at affordable prices. Something like the Lactaline Double Electric Breast Pump from their Purely Yours range is ideal, as it simulates a baby’s suckling to ease mum into the process. It also has customisable speed/suction dials through CustomControl™ and cleverly, can even be used with a purchasable car charger. Picking a pump suited to modern life will give you the best chance to take on more responsibility and enjoy important bonding sessions with your child.

Give Her Timeouts

If your partner still isn’t sold on feeding in public or just needs a break, it’s worth remembering that bottle feeding can give her the rest she needs. Once your partner’s milk supply is established, using a quality electric breast pump to express milk quickly, efficiently and comfortably can pay dividends for you both.

Put in the Time

Breastfeeding in public shouldn’t isolate either partner. Both mum and dad can take an equal share of the responsibility. You don’t need to strap a rubber boob to your chest like Robert De Niro in Meet the Fockers, but simply invest a good amount of your time and energy.

Remember, it gets easier! The initial awkwardness of going public will soon pass. What’s more, the latest breastfeeding technology can help empower and liberate you both. So, whether you ‘bottle up’ or not, you may be surprised to discover just how much you enjoy taking part.

Reader Offer: For a limited time, FQ readers can get the Ameda Purely Yours Lactaline Double Electric Breast Pump and Purely Yours Una Breast Pump half-price. Just use the code FQPUMP50 at* 

*Offer ends 31st December 2015. Can only be used on the Ameda Lactaline or Ameda Una pumps and cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer.