Breastfeeding in public in Dubai
Breastfeeding in public in Dubai is perfectly acceptable which may come as a surprise, especially as you probably haven’t noticed many babies being breastfed but that’s just because it is usually done very discretely. In fact it can be so discrete, Mum has even gone over to say hi to a friend in a cafe and asked where her baby was while her friend smiled and pointed to the pashmina under which he was having a feed.
Being a muslim country, it is important to ensure you aren’t exposing yourself and a scarf or breastfeeding cover can be very handy, although not essential depending on the top you’re wearing (see item 2 below).
Mum has breastfed me in plenty of public places in Dubai including parks, on the beach, cafes and restaurants, malls and on the plane. No one has ever batted an eyelid or stared and none of her friends have had any trouble either. It’s very much part of the Emirati and Islam culture to breastfeed so it’s far from an alien concept here.
Here are a few tips on how to breastfeed discretely:
1. Wear a nursing bra that you can easily unclip at the front. Mum loves the Hotmilk brand (available in Dubai from Blush and Bloom who can even come to your home for a personalised fitting) as they give a great shape, are as stylish as a good normal bra and they wash very well too.
2. Wear a camisole or vest underneath your top. If your top is sufficiently floaty you can easily get away without using a cover or scarf using this technique. Just yank down the camisole, unclip the front of the bra and stick your baby under your floaty top. Best of all you won’t expose any of your post natal pudgy belly but it can make the camisole a bit baggy round the top after a while so buy some cheap ones!
3. If you’re going to breastfeed in a cafe, try and choose a table close to a wall or corner and turn your back to the other diners.
4. Get any bits and bobs such as a muslin or cloth, breast pad etc out before you start so you’re not rummaging in your bag with your baby squirming and trying not to expose yourself at the same time.
5. Try practising in front of a mirror at home to prove to yourself that nobody will see anything.
6. Don’t be embarrassed. There’s no need to make eye contact with anyone, but if you do just smile – no need to get flustered as this will just draw attention.
The first couple of times may seem daunting but once you realise that nobody’s interested (or even notices) then it becomes a doddle.
With a cover or using a discrete feeding technique you can really feed anywhere in Dubai but if you’re looking for some more private places to breastfeed in Dubai try these:
1. Some malls have dedicated feeding rooms but at the very least the big modern malls have a chair where you can nurse in the baby changing rooms. In Mirdif City Centre there is a large feeding room on the first floor by the food court and several individual rooms with baby changing facilities too. In Mall of the Emirates there is one on the first floor close to the entrance to the Pullman hotel and a little private one with a changing mat and toilet in the Fashion Galleria section on the top floor (level 2) near the entrance to DUCTAC. Burjuman has a private room with huge sofas. As a general rule, if the mall is busy try heading to the baby changing rooms on the upper levels as they tend to be the quietest.
2. Changing rooms in clothing shops are a good option if they’re not busy (and they rarely are!). Just ask one of those shop assistants who’s been following you round pointing at your baby and saying ‘babeeee! babeee! babeeeeeeeeee!’ Nobody has ever refused when Mum has asked.
3. Mothercare and Babyshop stores (at least the larger ones) usually have a feeding room, although sometimes some of the staff seem unaware so you may need to ask a few or get hold of the manager to point you in the right direction.
4. The back of a car is always a good option but you may need to keep the engine running for the AC and if you park in a car park, just be mindful the car cleaning guys may come over as you park up and hang around until you
shoo them away. politely decline a car wash.
5. If you’re spending time on a beach or at the park you could consider taking a beach tent. See my post on beach tents.
6. Sometimes it can be ok to use a female prayer room but remember to be respectful and ensure you are dressed appropriately. It’s probably best to ask first if anybody minds.
Please don’t feel concerned about breastfeeding in Dubai, there is really no need. If you’re visiting Dubai from overseas bear in mind that you may find your baby needs to feed more regularly to keep well hydrated in the heat. Bottles of formula can spoil quickly in the heat so breastfeeding is really much more convenient if you are able to.
It’s usually not necessary to supplement feeds with water if you are exclusively breastfeeding, but check out my post on drinking water in Dubai if you need water to mix with formula or would like to give your baby water with food etc.