Getting out and about with baby – breastfeeding in public.

You can do it!

I often wished someone would challenge me when breastfeeding my babies in public – so I could offer people some, shall we say, on the spot education. The legislation is quite clear – you cannot be treated unfairly for breastfeeding in any place you or your baby are permitted to be. So that includes public places like shops and shopping malls, restaurants and cafes, libraries, museums and swimming pools, parks and zoos, public transport, movies, waiting rooms and any other public areas.

If you are ever unsure, ask yourself ‘would my baby and I normally be permitted to be here?’ If the answer is yes, then your baby can also feed there. Our latest television commercial, as part of the Breastfeeding NZ campaign, is a great example of this!

Unfair treatment could include being asked to stop breastfeeding, or being asked to leave the premises. It is never okay for anyone to suggest you take your baby to breastfeed in the toilet! Even if it’s a palatial toilet with plush seating. The point is, you should be able to feed exactly where you want to – sitting right there at the café table in the view of public. If you do encounter anyone asking you to stop feeding, we suggest you respectfully refer people to the law. More information, as well as brochures, can be found on the Ministry of Health webpage (also available in Maori, Samoan and Tongan):

For your comfort, you may want to check ahead of any outings for breastfeeding facilities such as parents’ rooms in shopping malls. Also for your own comfort there are handy tips such as using muslin cloths and wearing layered singlet tops or maternity bras if you prefer coverage when feeding in public. These practicalities may give confidence to more mothers to continue breastfeeding when they are out and about.

Tip – yes, you can wear a dress! I would keep a thin light lavalava or wrap in my bag, and then slip it under the dress like another skirt for feed time. Then you can just lift the dress up like a top, but your wrap underneath is still covering you.

In chapter 5 of the Breastfeeding Naturally DVD, our mums focus on their experiences of breastfeeding in public. There are some great tips in there for us all.

Or you can view it on the Ministry of Health website (click on chapter 5).

Happy breastfeeding out and about! Marama.

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