Nursing While Traveling: A Conversation with Tanya Davis
This month, we’re interviewing women from all over the world and asking them about their experiences nursing during their travels. We had the privilege of speaking with Tanya Davis about her experience traveling while nursing her daughter, Zoe. Here’s a glimpse into our conversation.
Tell us about yourself! What do you do when you’re not traveling the world? Where are you from? Where do you currently live?
My husband and I are from Western Australia. We are both former IT people and we have been traveling the world full-time for a few years so we don’t do much else aside from traveling, caring for our daughter Zoe and writing about travel on our blog, Magic Travel Blog.
We have mostly been in Malaysia for the last six months, but we are currently shifting back to Australia to see more of our own country. I am writing this on the cruise ship that is transporting us home.
Where did you travel while nursing? What was the purpose of the trip? How old was your child at the time?
We have been traveling with Zoe since she was five months old and she is now 18 months old. In that time, she spent time in Perth in Australia, Bangkok, Edinburgh, London, Barcelona, Kuala Lumpur, Penang, and Singapore.
The trip to the UK was primarily to show off the new baby to family and friends. While we were over there we decided to spend some time in Spain which led us to spend three months in Barcelona. However, this is our normal day to day life so the question about purpose is difficult to answer. Everyone has to be somewhere.
In your destination, were there particular nursing areas that you recommend/don’t recommend?
In Australia, your right to breastfeed (and your baby’s right to be fed) is legally protected and acceptance of breastfeeding in public is very high. Although I am unsure of the legal situation in the UK and Spain it felt like there was a similar climate of acceptance towards feeding a hungry baby wherever the hungry baby happens to be. So in those countries, I guess I recommend nursing anywhere you can find a seat for the two of you.
In Malaysia and Bangkok, however, it is much less common to see mothers feeding their babies. Shopping centers did often have mothers’ rooms which tended to be very comfortable. Note that they were specifically mothers’ rooms and not parents’ rooms so dad had to wait outside.
These mothers’ rooms were frequently empty which was puzzling. Look for one if you are in a shopping center as it is likely to be very comfortable and you will probably have it to yourself.
What sort of reactions did you get about your nursing? Did you feel comfortable/uncomfortable nursing there?
Mostly we got no reaction at all. People who are comfortable with you nursing near them just carry on with what they are doing. People who are not comfortable seem to act like you are invisible and just carry on with what they are doing.
Occasionally in Malaysia when we were out and a mothers’ room was not available we would find a quiet corner to feed Zoe. Sometimes a passing man would stare with uncomfortable intensity but I would receive those sorts of stares in Malaysia even before the baby, so that is no surprise. No one ever actually said anything.
Nursing While Traveling: A Conversation with Tanya Davis.
Is there any nursing/pumping gear that you recommend for traveling?
Some sort of lightweight cloth or scarf that you can use to cover up can be handy. It is useful for when you are in a part of the world that is less accepting of public breastfeeding. It is also helpful for when all of the excitement of new places and new people are distracting your baby from feeding.
I would also recommend getting some nursing tops rather than trying to make do with your existing tops. A lot of nursing tops are pretty hideous, but there are some nice ones out there. They make it easier to nurse discreetly.
If you were traveling with your child, what were some kid-friendly highlights? What were some of the challenges in traveling with your child?
People’s reactions to Zoe were always a pleasant surprise. Virtually everyone we have met has been incredibly friendly to her. I think it has helped her become the very smiley little lady that she is, always happy to meet new people. All of the different food has also helped her become a relatively adventurous eater. She is happy to try just about anything we put in front of her which is very handy living as we do.
The biggest challenge is maintaining her daily routine. Nap time needs to be guarded quite fiercely. On days where it is just impossible to stick to the usual routine, for example because of a flight, we have just come to accept that those are probably not going to be very fun days. We just get through travel days the best we can.
Are there any tips you’d give someone else who is considering nursing in your destination?
Do your best to be discreet, but ultimately your baby needs to be fed. That trumps everything else. Go to a mothers’ room if there is one. If not, find the most out-of-the-way spot you can. But don’t ever NOT feed your baby because you are worried about what people might think.
Oh, and get in the habit of nursing in public before you go away. It gets easier the more you do it.
Nursing While Traveling: A Conversation with Tanya Davis photo by Unsplash.