As a Muslim woman that always covers in public, feeding in public or while out and about was not something that came too easily for me initially. I did find it quite daunting and I never once fed my first two babies outside of the house. With my second baby, I was out a lot as the older one had toddler groups, so I used to always bring bottles for him and soon enough that was the end of the breastfeeding! (I will be writing more about these experiences on Friday).
With my 3rd child I decided I have to do things a bit differently, so I just fed him everywhere. As I had that bit more experience I had more confidence with feeding and was able to do this, but for me the main factor making it easy to feed outside the house was having suitable clothes. I always managed to feed without ever showing anything.
Now that my child is a bit older I don’t tend to feed him outside anymore as he is close to two years now so needs feeding less and is more able to wait, but I used to find abayahs which are made specially for breastfeeding or if I couldn’t find it, i just took some plain ones to a tailor and had a zip put in. The combination of long hijab, and a zip from the neck of the abayah downwards, means that you can feed without showing anything at all and is quite easy. I always found the zip easier than the wrap opening type of abayahs, although I did use both.
It’s not always easy to find the breastfeeding friendly abayahs, but here are a few I have found available at the moment for any Muslim sisters looking!
After I started feeding my youngest out and about, I got a lot more confidence with it and was able to feed him anywhere without anyone ever noticing. I sometimes had to feed him in restaurants, in the town hall, on the tube or bus or in the park, but I always felt confident that I am covered and it was all fine. I think this did help me to continue with breastfeeding for longer, as I am out of the house a lot and to just feed him anywhere allowed me to continue with breastfeeding on demand and fully establish that, without mixing in bottles at an early age.
Of course there are other clothing options too but with things like maxi dresses I found it a bit more difficult because with hijab you tend to need a top underneath and then that’s another extra layer to deal with and complicate things! I found the same with the nursing covers, that personally as I have so much fabric all over me in the first place, an extra cover actually hindered me more than helped but I do know some women found it gave them a lot more confidence and reassurance that they will be fully covered, so they prefer to use it. So I would say it is definitely worth trying one on and seeing how it goes, if you can borrow from someone to try it out before committing to buying one, then I would do that first.
I have sometimes had people presuming that Muslim women because we do cover up, must not breastfeed and that we would never breastfeed outside the house. The misconception is that because of how much we cover we won’t be able to, but although it can be difficult or daunting at first, many of us still do feed outside. Breastfeeding is actually mentioned in our religion and is a rewarded act for us. There are a lot of narrations about this for anyone who is interested. It is actually recommended in Quran that we can feed for two years, the same as the WHO recommendations so plenty of women in our community do that!
Mothers shall suckle their children for two full years, – that for such as desire to complete the suckling
وَالْوَالِدَاتُ يُرْضِعْنَ أَوْلاَدَهُنَّ حَوْلَيْنِ كَامِلَيْنِ لِــمَنْ أَرَادَ أَن يُتِمَّ الرَّضَاعَةَ
It also goes to show, that breastfeeding outside can be done discretely and definitely not a case of having to show off your skin if you are not comfortable, as many like me are doing it without showing anything. Most of the time people would not even know you are feeding, so once you get used to it you wouldn’t have to feel self concious.
Even in the house among family and friends, I am not really one to whip everything out and feed. I have previously tested out a BreastVest and this is a product which helps you to feel more confident when feeding in front of others, as it ensures your stomach will be fully covered if lifting your top, so you do not ever have to show any more than necessary. I have one to give away here on the blog in conjunction with Keep Britain Breastfeeding week and BreastVest also have a 25% discount running using the code BSH25 on their website www.breastvest.co.uk. (expiring 23/06/2013)
Here is today’s Rafflecopter for the main prize draw.
As usual with the Scavenger Hunt we are linking to other participating bloggers so today I would like to share the following blogs with you:
And one company: Snoob the makers of a handy breastfeeding scarf, which makes it easier to feed in public. I have never tried this but like the look of it, as it doesn’t look at all bulky, and would be really convenient.