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Top breastfeeding tips

We hope these top ten tips will enable you to feel confident about breastfeeding your baby when you are out and about. 

  • Practice in front of a mirror with lots of different styles of clothing. This will allow you to see yourself exactly as others do and help you find what you are most comfortable with.
  • Loose clothing like tops that can be lifted up, or shirts that can be unbuttoned from the waist, will let you feed your baby without exposing the breast. It’s also easier to be discreet if your bra can be pulled up with one hand or if you can unfasten and refasten a nursing bra with one hand.
  • If you feel more comfortable you could use a small shawl or blanket to cover yourself.
  • Find a good spot to sit – a wall or corner will usually give you the most privacy. Restaurant booths are great especially if another adult sits on the aisle.
  • Learn to recognise your babies hunger cue as it is easier to position and attach your baby to feed at the first signs of hunger, than when he cries. You will become more confident after a few weeks of breastfeeding.
  • Remember family members are good to practice in front of before your first trip out.
  • Take a friend, ideally one who has also breastfed, out with you until you feel confident.
  • Your Midwife or Health Visitor will be able to tell you about the breastfeeding Peer Support Worker in your area.
  • Ask your Midwife, Health Visitor or Peer Support Worker about guides to venues where breastfeeding is made welcome. This will raise your comfort level for breastfeeding in public.

The  Equality Bill 2010 makes clear that mothers can breastfeed their children without being asked to leave places like cafes and shops. This should give mums more confidence to feed when out and about 

1. Breastfeeding and Medication

Many illnesses, including depression, can be treated while you’re breastfeeding without harming your baby. However, small amounts of any drug you take will pass through your breast milk to your baby, so always tell your doctor, dentist or pharmacist that you’re breastfeeding.

What medicines can I take while I’m breastfeeding?

Medicines that can be taken while breastfeeding include:

  • most antibiotics
  • common painkillers, such as paracetamol and ibuprofen (but not aspirin)
  • hay fever medicines, such as Clarityn and Zirtek
  • cough medicines (simple linctus or honey and lemon in hot water)
  • asthma inhalers
  • normal doses of vitamins.

You can use some methods of contraception and some cold remedies, but not all. Always check with your GP or pharmacist, who can advise you. It’s fine to have dental treatments, local anaesthetics, injections (including MMR, tetanus and flu injections) and most operations. You can also dye, perm or straighten your hair, use fake tan and wear false nails.

An alternative can almost always be found. For more information, talk to your midwife health visitor or GP, go to the Breastfeeding Network website for advice on Drugs and breastfeeding, or call the Drugs in Breastmilk Helpline on 0844 412 4665. 

2. Breastfeeding with a Disability

If you have a disability you may be concerned that this could impact on the decision of how you will feed your child, but the good news is that in most cases, with the support of midwifery teams and health professionals, disabilities can be overcome to allow you to breastfeed.

  • Health professionals will treat every woman individually.
  • Health professionals will offer a one-to-one discussion in the antenatal period to develop an appropriate care plan.
  • Health professionals will listen to you and try to respond to your individual needs. It’s helpful for staff to know your strengths and weaknesses.
  • Peer Supporters may be able to offer you more emotional support.
  • Staff will ensure you get support with, e.g. positioning and attaching your baby.
  • All Mums and Dads need consistent information and time to gain their skills with their new baby so don’t worry you’ll get there. 

3. Can I Breastfeed if I have Implants?

Many women are choosing to have their breast size enhanced during their child bearing years. This is often best left until after you have had children, although women who have breast implants can breastfeed. While any form of breast surgery carries some risk that ducts and nerves may be damaged, most women with implants have happy and successful breastfeeding experiences.

Some mothers worry that the quality of their milk may be affected by implants. There is no evidence that the material in the implants can harm a baby, even if a leak in the implant packet occurs.

The location of the implant can impact on breastfeeding. When the packets are inserted under the fold of the breast or under the arm, there is less risk of damage to important nerves and milk ducts. Sometimes, implants are inserted at the edge of the areola. There is more risk with this surgical approach that the nerve sensation to the nipple will be damaged. If this happens, both milk supply, and milk release, can be affected.

On rare occasions, a woman gets implants because her breast development was abnormal. She may have too little glandular tissue to bring in a full milk supply. In such a case, her breastfeeding problems are not directly related to the implants, but to the earlier problem.

For more information on breastfeeding after surgery visit the Breastfeeding after Breast and Nipple Surgery (B.F.A.R.) website.

4. Expressing

Expressing milk is an ideal way for your baby to continue receiving the benefits of breast milk when you are not with them. It is also a way that those close to the baby can be involved in the feeding. In the past it was recommended that mums wait until the baby was about six weeks old before starting to express milk. There is no evidence to support this, although it is still advisable not to feed the baby expressed milk whilst breastfeeding is being established to avoid confusing the baby. However, breast milk can be stored in the freezer until required, giving you ultimate flexibility.

You can start to express milk as soon as you feel ready. Starting to express in the early days is an ideal way of storing up expressed milk as there is often extra milk available at this time as your breasts produce more than your baby needs.

Hand expressing

Hand expression is a useful technique to learn about in the antenatal period, so ask your Midwife or Peer Support Worker about it. Hand expression is a really effective method of removing your colostrum in the first few days rather than a breast pump, particularly if your baby is on special care. It is also useful when you want to tempt your baby to feed by helping start the milk flow. Importantly, it can be used if your breasts are full, to help your baby attach, or to clear blocked ducts, or to relieve any mastitis.

Maintaining your milk supply

In certain circumstances some babies are unable to breastfeed from birth. Your Midwife will show you how to express breast milk to maintain your supply until your baby is able to breastfeed.

Storing milk

Remember to use a sterilised container to put the milk in. You can store milk in the fridge for up to five days at 4°C or lower (usually at the back). Breast milk can be stored for two weeks in the ice compartment of a fridge or for up to six months in a freezer. Defrost frozen breastmilk in the fridge and once thawed use it straight away.

For more information about expressing and storage view the Start4Life ‘Off to the best start’ leaflet’ by clicking here.

5. Feeding Out and About

You can breastfeeding almost anywhere. If you wear fairly loose clothing you can feed your baby without worrying that you are showing your breasts. You may feel a little uncomfortable at first but soon you will feel more confident. Most people won’t even notice you are breastfeeding – try practicing in front of a mirror at home.

A mum has a right to feed her baby wherever she wishes, but feeding outside the home can cause some anxiety even if you have perfected the art at home. Practice is the key to discreetly feeding in public without feeling embarrassed or offending others. A great way to get used to feeding around other people is to go to a local breastfeeding group where you will find other breastfeeding mums.  If you go out and about at first with other breastfeeding mothers from your group, you may also feel more confident.

No one should ever ask you to stop breastfeeding in public.

The Equality Act was introduced into law in 2010 and it is now illegal to try and stop mothers breastfeeding their babies in public places. It is important to remeber that the vast majority of people dont mind (or even notice) when a mother is feeding her baby. However, if you do come across someone who tries to stop you, or asks you to move, it is worth thinking about making a complaint, as this person is acting illegally.

If you do feel nervous it may be reassuring to know that most mothers find with a bit of practice, they can feed discreetly. After feeding in front of others a few times, may mothers start to feel much less anxious.

Some cafes, shops and restaurants make special allowances for breastfeeding mothers by acheving BFI (Breastfeeding Friendly Initative) status. This means they are able to provide a private room and other types of support for breastfeeding mothers. You can find your nearest place with BFI status using our handy map tool. For More information please see Stockport Breastfeeding Welcome Scheme.

Tips for feeding out and about:

  • Plan ahead. Before you go out, it can help to think about where you will feel comfortable breastfeeding when your baby gets hungry.
  • Wear loose comfortable clothing that can be easily moved up or down. For example a top that can be lifted up, rather than having buttons. A nursing or soft non-underwired bra can be easily pulled up or down when you want to feed your baby.
  • Drape a blanket, clothing or scarf over you and your baby – this will give you some privacy if you are feeling nervous.
  • Practice in front of a mirror
  • Try it first in front of other mums at a group
  • Go out with another breastfeeding mum, close friend or family member
  • Relax – people may be more supportive than you think
  • Don’t feel that you should sit in a public toilet to breastfeed. You wouldn’t eat in there, so don’t feel that your baby should.
  • Keep a drink close by. 

6. Successful Breastfeeding

All mums want to know that their baby is feeding well. When you first start breastfeeding, you may wonder if your baby is getting enough milk. There are clear signs that you can look out for.

Signs that your baby is feeding well:

  • Your baby has a large mouthful of breast.
  • Your baby’s chin is touching your breast.
  • It doesn’t hurt you to feed (although the first few sucks may feel strong).
  • If you can see the dark skin around your nipple, you should see more dark skin above your baby’s top lip than below their bottom lip.
  • Your baby’s cheeks stay rounded during sucking.
  • Your baby takes rhythmic, long sucks and swallows. It’s normal for them to pause sometimes.
  • Your baby finishes the feed and comes off the breast on their own.

Signs that your baby is getting enough milk:

  • Your baby will appear content and satisfied after most feeds.
  • They should be gaining weight after the first two weeks.
  • Your breasts and nipples should not be sore.
  • In the first 48 hours, your baby is likely to have only two or three wet nappies.
  • From day five onwards, wet nappies should start to become more frequent, with at least six wet nappies every 24 hours.
  • They should appear healthy and alert when they’re awake.

Content adapted from NHS Choices.


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