Breastfeeding in public - the practical tips you need to know

Breastfeeding in public - the practical tips you need to know

Breastfeeding in public remains a topic ripe with mixed feelings and attitudes. Many new mothers find themselves navigating a mix of emotions from personal discomfort and societal judgment. However, understanding your rights and finding your comfort zone can make your experience more positive and encourage other mothers to do the same.  

We spoke to Clare Keys for some advice and tips for new mums. Clare is a Registered and Endorsed Midwife and a soon-to-be International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC); located on the Gold Coast, Clare a mother of three and is the visionary behind ‘The Womb Rooms’, an online trove of content designed to inform and support women through pregnancy, postpartum, and lactation, and with face-to-face postpartum and lactation services  

“If a woman feels safe and supported, she will do better in every way”.  

Your legal right  

In Australia, "breastfeeding is a right, not a privilege." This powerful statement is backed by federal law under the Sex Discrimination Act 1984, which explicitly prohibits discrimination on the basis of breastfeeding. Whether you are at work, in a park, or at a café, you are legally entitled to breastfeed your child anywhere. No one can ask you to leave or deny you service because you are attending to your baby's needs. This legal protection is your shield; carry it confidently. 

However, it's essential to acknowledge why some may feel uncomfortable breastfeeding in public. Concerns range from feeling physically exposed, especially when babies are unpredictable, to fearing negative reactions or judgement tied to body image. Cultural norms also play a significant role, as breastfeeding visibility varies widely across different societies. 

“Despite these challenges, remember that your primary aim is to nourish your baby. Your comfort and your baby's health come first, regardless of external opinions.”  

How exposed will I be? 

Ultimately how much people can see when someone is breastfeeding in public depends on the individual’s preference and comfort level. There are certainly specific circumstances which make breastfeeding in public more challenging. Some of these may include very large breasts, the need for specific nursing positions, the use of nipple shields or supply lines, twins or multiples just to name a few. However, in general how much people can see can be largely dictated by you.  

Some women may choose to fully expose one breast to ensure a good view and ensure effective attachment. Whereas others may choose to use a cover or utilise specific feeding clothing which limits exposure. Ultimately how you choose to feed in public is up to you and your personal preference. A helpful suggestion is to practice feeding in front of a mirror at home and this will show you how much of your body is exposed when feeding.  

Clare reminds us “It is important to note here that you are under absolutely no obligation to minimise or hide your attempts to breastfeed your baby. As stated previously, it is your legal right to attend to the needs of your infant in a public place.” 

If approached while breastfeeding, stay calm. Educate if necessary by explaining you have a right to feed your baby in a public space or simply cover up more if it makes you feel better. Remember, you can always seek support from people around you.  

Clare's top tips to build confidence when breastfeeding in public:  

  • Practice at home: Get comfortable with various techniques and clothing options in a familiar environment.  
  • Know your rights: Understanding the laws in your state or territory can empower you and provide confidence.  
  • Choose locations wisely: Opt for familiar, quiet, and comfortable places that offer baby-friendly spaces and facilities.  
  • Wear comfortable clothing: Opt for breastfeeding-friendly attire that provides easy access and comfort.  
  • Seek supportive company: Having encouraging family or friends around can provide comfort and boost confidence.  
  • Connect with other mothers: Joining breastfeeding or mother groups can offer community support and shared experiences.  
  • Practice relaxation techniques: Techniques like deep breathing and mindfulness can help reduce anxiety.  
  • Focus on your baby: Your primary goal is to nourish and comfort your baby; tune out external distractions and judgments.  
  • Be confident: Confidence can help deter unwanted attention or criticism. You’re doing what’s right for you and your baby!  


Breastfeeding in public should not be a point of contention. By increasing awareness, offering education, and fostering a supportive environment, we can shift public perceptions and make breastfeeding in public a non-issue.  



Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.