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There is so much information out there on feeding your baby, which at times can feel overwhelming. Breastfeeding rates have declined over the past 100 years, for a wide variety of reasons, and mums who choose to breastfeed may experience breastfeeding anxiety at some point along their feeding journey.

Mum Laura* highlights how worries about feeding can lead to avoiding going out and about with your baby:

“I have never really felt like a “mumsy mum” and in the first months of motherhood found I was anxious to go out with my daughter to see the health visitor and join in at the baby group they had. I was breastfeeding and conscious of feeding in public. 

I used a shawl to cover myself to feed her and found I got hot and bothered fluffing around with it all, especially when it would slip down. 

It’s only now by having a second child that I realise that I could have made my life a lot easier, I equipped myself with a breastfeeding cover, nursing bras and clip down tops and felt so much more confident to feed in public and also be private.”

Tips to reduce breastfeeding anxiety:

  1. However you choose to feed your baby, if you are worried about any aspect of feeding, don’t hesitate to ask for help from your health visitor. The more confident you feel in what you are doing, the less anxious you are likely to feel.
  2. Try not to compare yourself to other mums. It’s easy to assume that other women are, like Laura says, more ‘mumsy’ i.e. seem better equipped at the basics of feeding than you – but we are notoriously bad at judging what other people are really thinking and feeling, especially when we ourselves are feeling under pressure. That mum across the café who looks like she’s got it together may well have her own worries, or be looking at you wondering the same!
  3. Getting your head around the practicalities of feeding a baby in public can be tricky. As Laura highlights, there may be certain things you can use to make the process easier. But remember these will be different for everyone, and although it’s helpful to have recommendations, ultimately there might be a period of trial and error while you figure out what works for you and your baby.  
  4. If you are starting to feel overwhelmed in a public place, try taking a few deep breaths. If you are with someone you trust, tell them how you are feeling and ask them for help. Perhaps something as simple as a glass of water or sitting close to you will help you feel calmer.
  5. Try to arrange to meet a friend the first few times you go out with your baby for support, both practical and emotional!
  6. Record your feelings about feeding in a journal or notebook. It may help to process how you are feeling, and to look back and see how far you’ve come.
  7. Small steps are key – practise feeding your baby in places and with people you feel comfortable and bit by bit your confidence will grow. You got this, Mama.

*name changed.