Are you thinking of travelling with young children and are wondering what it is like to be breastfeeding when traveling? These are my thoughts on what breastfeeding when traveling during infancy and beyond. Our very first international trip with Javi was when he was 15 months old and we headed to Japan. Prior to our trip, I scoured the internet looking for an answer to my question. Is it ok to be breastfeeding when traveling through Japan? I was used to openly breastfeeding in Australia, but was it acceptable to do this in Japan?
What led me to ask this question was a mixture of being scared of the unknown, what is the cultural norm in this place? Would I get in trouble with the law? Would I run into trouble with the locals?
However I had no such luck. So asked in a forum to see if other members could give me some clarity. At this stage what had become clear was that the Japanese had a reputation of being quite reserved and it appeared that breastfeeding was something best done in private. I found information online saying that in Japan you could find the best nursing rooms and that breastfeeding mums were well catered for.
Now that is great news, right? Well, not so much. Nursing rooms are usually found in shopping centres and unless you are planning on spending your days there then it’s not exactly convenient. As a traveler our time is usually spent at locations where sourcing a private place to breastfeed just wouldn’t work.
While in Japan we found ourselves spending our days walking and catching public transport. We also visited multiple cultural places such as museums and temples. More often than not we didn’t return to our hotel for Javi’s nap. Instead he mostly slept and breastfed in the comfort of our Ergo carrier.
It turns out the Japanese people we encountered were reserved but were beautifully friendly and kind. You couldn’t tell most times that Javi was feeding but other times specially while in long distance train rides we openly fed (no cover, no carrier, boob out). People just went along their merry way and minded their own business.
Our next international destination was Bali, Indonesia. By this time around I didn’t worry so much. In fact I even encountered other local breastfeeding mums. Once again I didn’t go out of my way to cover Javier, now 19 months old. I just breastfed according to his needs and no one batted an eye.
Last time around we visited a few locations in South East Asia, including Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia, and again breastfeeding wasn’t a big deal. Locals even came up to chat and see the baby while he breastfed.
So to answer the question. What is breastfeeding like when traveling? It is exactly what it should be for both mum and bub. Catering to each others needs and whatever makes you comfortable. In my experience, being confident and comfortable in your own skin means that you should carry on whatever way you see fit. It doesn’t matter if that might be covering baby or not. Wearing nursing tops or not. Feeding on the go or not.
At the end of the day, it is helpful to be aware of what the social norm in the country you are visiting. But I would say it’s not essential. As a traveler passing by, locals are not bound to care and if anything, especially away from the western world. They are more likely to have the respect and admiration we should all have towards this biological norm. Also exploring and experiencing as much as humanly possible is unlikely to send you in places where you will find nursing rooms.
Lastly, I can’t think of too many places where breastfeeding isn’t just the accepted norm or protected by the law. Like it is in the Australia, USA and UK, among others. So get out there, and more likely than not, follow what is natural to you and you will be fine.
I’d love to hear your experiences from breastfeeding when traveling. So please feel free to comment below and let’s get talking about this important topic!
While you are here don’t forget to check out our 5 tips for travelling with a baby or toddler to help you keep your sanity.