How To Breastfeed In Public

In the UK, breastfeeding in public is your right by law. As stated in the Equality Act of 2010, treating a woman unfavourably because she’s breastfeeding is considered sex discrimination, and this applies to any business providing services to the public, including cafes and restaurants.

However, even though breastfeeding in public is protected by law, many women still worry about doing it. We’ve all heard horror stories about women being asked to cover-up, and while this doesn’t happen anywhere near as often as the tabloids would have us think, it’s still a concern for many new mums. 

We know that knowing your rights is only half the battle and that until breastfeeding in public becomes the norm, many women are still going to worry about how to do it as discreetly as possible. With that in mind, here are the pros and cons of various ways to breastfeed in public, so you can decide for yourself.

Breastfeeding Tops

Clothing designed specifically for breastfeeding is by far the most convenient way to nurse your baby. NINE+QUARTER breastfeeding tops come with either side zips, or double layers, depending on the style. Many of our breastfeeding tops have invisible zips on the side seam below each arm, allowing you to discreetly feed your little one without adding or removing any additional layers. Alternatively, our double-layer tops can be lifted, with the bottom layer covering your tum and boobs. This bottom layer has a large opening under each arm, allowing it to be pulled to the side to feed your baby.  

The downside to breastfeeding vests and t-shirts is that they have the biggest initial cost when compared to other options, however, many women find that the confidence, comfort and convenience they provide more than makes up for it. 

Courage long sleeve breastfeeding and maternity top from NINE+QUARTER

Double layered longsleeve maternity and breastfeeding top from NINE+QUARTER

Our long-sleeve Courage maternity and breastfeeding top is double layered with an opening in the inner layer for easy-access breastfeeding with minimal skin showing. 

Breastfeeding Cover

While your baby is still little, simply throwing a muslin cloth over their head and your shoulder tends to be the method most often used by new mums. This works well, and the muslin doubles as a burp cloth after the feed. Win/win! You can also buy specific covers that attach around your neck to serve the same purpose, but they’re essentially doing the same job.

The downside of this method is that having a cover over their head can make it too hot for baby during warmer months, and as they start to discover their hands they are guaranteed to pull the muslin off at exactly the wrong moment.  

One-Up, One-Down

One of the most inexpensive ways to breastfeed in public is the one-up, one-down method, which can be done with your existing wardrobe. By wearing a vest under your top you can lift your shirt, pull down your vest, and breastfeed with no skin on show. 

This is a great option if you can’t invest in breastfeeding-specific clothing, but while it’s nice and cool for the baby, wearing double-layers can get incredibly hot and uncomfortable for you when the weather is warm. 

Breastfeed in public with the one-up, one-down method
Wearing double layers alllows you to lift up your top whilst pulling down your vest or pulling down your vest whilst unbottoning your shirt...and breastfeed with no skin on show. 

Let It Go

Last on our list is the easiest option by far - don’t cover up at all. Yes, it might make you feel vulnerable the first few times, but once you’ve got the hang of it, you won’t look back. Many women choose to breastfeed without any form of cover, and often find that even without making an effort to cover themselves, so little skin is actually exposed, no-one notices anyway!

Breastfeeding in public is your right by law

In the UK, breastfeeding in public is your right by law.

Breastfeeding in public needn’t be something you ever feel you have to do discreetly, but should you choose to cover up, there are plenty of options to put your mind at ease. 

Explore our maternity and breastfeeding tops, or learn more about breastfeeding in our blog What I Didn't Know And Wish Someone Had Told Me About... Feeding A Newborn.


Originally from New Zealand, Sarah is a mother to two boys and has lived in the UK for the past 10 years. She is a home-educator, freelance writer, Netflix-binger and has a penchant for strong black coffee.

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