I recently attended a breakfast function with Ottawa’s Connecting Women with my exclusively breastfed (EBF), bottle refusing five-month old baby. I was showered, dressed in proper clothes, wearing makeup and feeling pretty great about myself until I looked down to see that I had leaked through my shirt before my meal was on the table. It was my first time attending a networking event with this group of ladies and needless to say, I did not feel like I was ‘breastfeeding like a boss.’
As it happened, the speaker’s presentation was about writing a blog entry in a morning and we were to sketch out a post as we followed along. I have breastfed both of my boys but with Clyde I was able to store pumped milk in the freezer and leave him with a bottle for this type of event. Jude has decided that he would prefer to be my sidekick no matter where life takes us so in the spirit of not wanting this to happen again – to me or any other nursing mama, I used my time throughout the morning to create this list of tips to keep it classy.
- Ditch the small talk. When we arrived, we spent the first 20 minutes introducing ourselves at our table and chatting about what it is that we all do. I was enjoying the time to network but in hindsight, this was my window to sneak out and feed Jude in a quiet room so that he would be content for the presentation. Instead, I waited until he got fussy and by then, the room was full of conversations and Jude was far too distracted to latch and feed properly.
- Nursing pads. Even if you don’t need a nursing pad on a normal day, invest in a handful of them and use one on both sides for an event such as this. That way, if your baby doesn’t take a full feed or is too distracted to nurse at all, you are not stressing about your impending letdown. I always wear one Bamboobies nursing pad and carry a few extra in an Itzy Ritzy snack bag (essentially a mini wet bag) in my purse.
- Neutral receiving blanket. This may seem like a small detail but amongst a group of well dressed professional women, I was grateful to drape a plain grey receiving blanket over my shirt to cover where I had leaked rather than something bright or full of cutesy prints. Better yet, I was fortunate to receive a “shoulder size” burp cloth from a friend and this in a neutral tone would be ideal. At this point, you’re just trying to make the best of a worst case scenario so the little things go a long way.
- Naked nursing tanks. I own this tank top in two colours (black and white) and am always layering one under a regular shirt if I’ll be nursing in public. To each their own but I have never warmed up to nursing covers. This tank top allows me to feed Jude wearing one of my own shirts (not a nursing top) and keep my mid-section covered at all times. I feel discreet and confident when nursing in a group setting.
- Roll with the punches. Like with anything else, having confidence in what you’re doing goes a long way so be prepared to roll with the punches. If you miss part of the presentation to nurse in the bathroom – no biggie! If you stand at the back of the room with your baby in a ring sling – it’s all good! When you’re travelling with an itty-bitty sidekick, take the small wins and let the rest roll off your back.
I attended this event with a friend and when we chatted at the end about our planned posts, she assured me that she hadn’t noticed my nursing faux pas. While it’s entirely possible that no one in the room but me was focused solely on the small wet spot on my shirt, I still wouldn’t wish for it to happen to anyone else. Let’s be honest, exclusively breastfeeding is hard enough on a mama bear…keeping it classy is always a big win. Please comment below if you have any tried and true tips for breastfeeding like a boss!