Breastfeeding in public

Breastfeeding makes it easy to go anywhere with your baby. You don't have to carry feeding equipment or worry about keeping bottles germ-free. Breast milk is always available at the right temperature and in the right amount for your baby.

Building your confidence

Some mothers feel self-conscious breastfeeding in public the first time, particularly when attaching their baby to their breast. This gets easier with time. Most people won't notice you are breastfeeding as it looks like you are cuddling your baby.

Going to a support group and observing other mothers breastfeeding can help with your confidence.

Ciara shares her tips around breastfeeding with other mothers

Mum Ciara shares her tips around breastfeeding with other Mums

Catherine talks about getting support at her local breastfeeding support class

Catherine talks about getting support at her local breastfeeding support class

Try putting a light scarf or muslin cloth over your shoulder to give you some privacy while feeding or attaching your baby on to feed. As you get more comfortable feeding your baby in public, you may not need these. Some babies don’t like to be partially covered, so do what works best for you both.

Tips for breastfeeding in public

The following tips might help:

  • Bring your partner or a friend along for support until you become more confident.
  • Wear a loose top over a cami top so that you can lift up the outer top and pull down the strappy top.
  • Wear a nursing bra so that you can quickly click it open and attach your baby.
  • Ask if there is a private feeding area if you want more privacy - some restaurants, hotels and shopping centres have areas
  • available for your use.

Breastfeeding in public places

You are entitled to breastfeed in public places and you don't have to ask anyone for permission. Some places may offer a private area if you would like this, but you don't have to use it.

When in public, remember:

  • you can breastfeed anywhere you and your baby want or need to
  • wear something comfortable that can be opened easily for breastfeeding
  • don't wait until your baby gets too hungry or distressed

Breastfeeding offers comfort as well as food.

Breastfeeding laws in Ireland

The Equal Status Act (2000) protects people from discrimination and harassment (including sexual harassment). It is connected to the use of and access to a wide range of services including shops and restaurants.

Although breastfeeding is not directly mentioned, protection for breastfeeding in public is covered by the Act on gender grounds.

This Act helps mothers to breastfeed comfortably in public places by protecting them from being discriminated against or harassed because they are breastfeeding. Discrimination is unfair treatment. For example, asking someone to leave the premises because they are breastfeeding.

Page last reviewed: 14 November 2018
Next review due: 14 November 2021