Breastfeeding is always a big topic – also in my home-country Denmark – which is supposedly one of the most open-minded countries in the world, BUT when it comes to a perfectly natural process such as the feeding of a baby apparently it’s not!??
Many will probably be surprised to hear that breastfeeding in public in Dubai is well accepted and I have never been rejected or confronted in any restaurant, cafe, mall, park, plane or where ever I have fed James Viggo. It’s actually very much part of the Emirati culture to breastfeed. BUT you don’t see many people doing it and when its done, its done very discreet!! We do live in a muslim country and of course it is important to be discreet to ensure that no embarrassment is caused… Some of you may have heard that the Government recommendation in Dubai is to breastfeed until 2 years old…
I don’t breastfeed at the moment (hopefully again in 6 weeks!!) but as we have been out and about quite a lot, I’m feeling like a ‘breastfeeding on the go’-expert and therefore would like to share some advice for new mums or nursing tourists in Dubai;
- Be discreet! You can cover up with a big scarf (just bind to corners in the neck) or a special made nursing cover. It’s difficult in the beginning especially as a new mum to hold the little precious baby correct in your arms, to make them eat and cover up at same time. I found it challenging and very scary the first couple of times but after some practice and especially when they get bigger it’s so much easier!
- Try to sit in a corner or turn away from the crowd, there is no point to attract too much attention. I always check first, to see what kind of people is sitting next to me. Do they look like they would be offended?
- Ask the waiter if you’re sitting in a restaurant if it’s ok you feed under your cover. I have never been turned down, but its only polite to check first (just in case).
- Makes sure you wear easy accessible clothes such as a nursing bra, a button shirt or similar so you don’t have to pull up a t-shirt and show your beautiful post baby belly!
- Practice at home or in relaxed surroundings first before you start feed in public.
- Try to relax and start the feed before baby gets too impatient, otherwise this will just create more stress. Also you don’t want to get too much attention from other people.
- This is how you do it; First take the scarf on, remove pads and open clothes so its ready. Take your baby in underneath the scarf. Look through the hole below the neck to make sure that the baby latches and there you go, you are feeding. It’s much easier to get them out once finished. Then close your clothes and take off scarf. Done!
If what I have suggested above is too scary and you prefer privacy there some other good options in Dubai;
- In most malls (funny how baby changing and the lifts suddenly are the first thing I’m looking for when I enter a mall!!) there are some great baby facilities where you can sit in your own locked room with a nice chair & changing mat. Dubai Mall has the best nursing facilities which also has a microwave, water and small toilets for toddlers – I just wish they had more rooms! Marina mall and Mirdiff city center have great spacious rooms too on each floor. If they are full, try to go to top floor, they are often less busy.
- Baby Shops; The larger baby shops have feeding rooms and/or huge changing rooms, with enough space to bring prams and feed your baby (I also love the huge fake belly in their changing rooms which you can try your maternity clothes with!)
- Shop changing rooms: Any clothes shop chaining room (where there are no queues!) you can sneak in your baby and sit on floor if there is no chair. Ask staff first – just in case.
- Back of your car: I have sat a few times sat in the back of the car if we have parked somewhere quiet, covering windows up with my scarfs and keep AC on, easy!
It is a bit nerve-racking in the beginning for new mums or tourists coming to Dubai and thinking about having to breastfeed here, but please don’t think you can’t breastfeed in public here, you just need to ensure you are discreet and consider others and don’t just get them out for all to see 🙂 It’s important to stay hydrated in the heat and water is not necessary for baby if you breastfeed only. In most restaurants etc the waiters are very sweet and love babies – so they will only help you.
A little fun story… In one of the big malls my husband and I asked a member of staff for directions to the baby changing room for dads, looking confused the lady then asked “why I was not chaining my own baby as I’m the woman!??”… Welllll actually I do it 9 out of 10 times but sometimes daddy like to do it to! She looked even more weird at me and had no idea what I was talking about… But we did actually find a male baby changing room so make daddy help you after the feed with all the rest!!
Good luck – cheers!
JV & mum
(P.s. Please be aware that I am no expert on breastfeeding or have any qualification in childcare, what I’m offering here is an insight into how I do things with my baby, and hope that it gives you a feel for how life as a new mummy is in this wonderful city of Dubai.)