I didn’t grow up in a naked house.
That’s not to say I’m not comfortable in my own skin, it’s just I don’t want strangers to see all of it. I’m a get dressed under a towel at the gym sort of person.
So with that in mind the thought of breastfeeding in public was very daunting to me. How was I going to cope with it? I really wasn’t sure about it, even with a cover I worried I would be on show.
Then when I tried and failed to breastfeed my first baby (more on that and exclusive pumping tips here) it wasn’t an issue. But my experience made me more nervous when my second was on the way. I knew I wanted to breastfeed but my first had screamed and fussed through every feed. I didn’t really fancy a restaurant full of people seeing me wrestling with my baby with my nipples flying about the place.
Once Bubba Two arrived and all was going well, I felt ok giving it a try at a restaurant for my husband’s birthday. I had my Seraphine bamboo nursing shawl, which is one of my must have baby buys I wrote about here. You use poppers to clip it together like a poncho. All went well and she fell asleep under the shawl and I left her there, boob out but covered by the shawl, while I ate.
When she was a newborn this was a lifesaver. It can still be a right faff though as I have found myself trying to latch the baby on without a good view. Cue lots of tugging of the shawl and hauling the baby around to find the right position while also trying to eat with one hand before my food gets cold. Us women really know how to multi-task like a boss!
The trouble is now she’s not so tiny anymore and she is right fidget. Once she’s quenched her thirst with a few gulps she’s distracted by the smallest thing and flings herself back to look around the room. Because of her wriggling, pulling and general refusal to comply (she’s so childish, honestly!) it has become quite the show. The shawl no longer works because as soon as it goes over her head she goes mental about the lights being turned out. But now I am more used to it. I’m still conscious of being exposed. It’s just I can’t be bothered to worry about it too much. Baby needs feeding, so I’m going to feed her.
I know I have the legal right to breastfeed anywhere I want, and quite bloody right too! Imagine how hard it would be to breastfeed when out and about if you had to worry about causing a stir and being asked to leave.
The truth is every time I have breastfed my youngest in public I have had zero problems. No judgemental stares, no tuts or whispers. It’s all so normal. I’m really glad we’ve got to this point as a society.
Everywhere has been really supportive. Waiters have put us in a more discreet corner of the room when we’ve asked, not because they wanted to put us in the corner but because I didn’t want to be in the centre of the room with my boobs out.
I know from stories I have read or been told about that there are many women who do not feel supported or have had a terrible experience when trying to breastfeed in public. This is unacceptable. Women who breastfeed are doing what their bodies were designed to do.
The incredibly ill-conceived advert by the huge company-that-should-know-better Dove sparked rage among parents as it supported those who want breastfeeding mums to “put them away”. In an effort to make an ad supporting mums no matter what, it actually made an advert that supported anti-breastfeedeers. In case you missed it, the ad included the words: “75% say breastfeeding in public is fine. 25% say put them away. What’s your way”
i wrote a separate post on Dove’s PR nightmare here.
The fact is adults eat their dinner from a plate. Some babies eat dinner from their mum’s boob. Get over it.
That’s why I will continue to breastfeed in public, occasional flying nipples and all.
From a breastfeeding mum who didn’t grow up in a naked house, here are a few things to remember when breastfeeding in public:
- Remember it is your legal right to do so in shops, restaurants, cafes, leisure centres, petrol stations, the list goes on. Visit Maternity Action for a full lowdown on your rights.
- If someone does tell you to stop, find the courage to point out your legal rights. If you felt too intimidated to do so, make a formal complaint to the manager/owner.
- If you worry about being exposed find a cover, shawl or outfit that works for you. Practice using it before you go out.
- Try to relax. Easier said than done I know when you’re trying to handle a crying baby in public.
- Remember we’ve all been there with a crying baby and boobs leaking everywhere. For every person who might give you s**t, there’s 100 in your corner.
Do you have any tips for breastfeeding in public?