If Breastfeeding isn’t your bag, stop and think before you Tweet.

When I think back to the first few days after Spud emerged into the world, I can still remember how fragile I felt and he seemed.  Those first few weeks as a Mum were bewildering.  No doubt I was sporting the ‘rabbit caught in the headlights’ look I still see when I meet new parents on the maternity ward.  Having a baby is like nothing else you will ever experience.  It is terrifying but extraordinary in equal measure.

Spud and I in the early hours

Spud and I in the early hours

Ordinarily I wouldn’t describe myself as a vulnerable person.  I can be quiet and measured or loud and engaging depending on the circumstances but vulnerable just isn’t me.  I did however feel very vulnerable when Spud was born.

It wasn’t during labour or when I held him for the first time.

It wasn’t as he suckled all night in the safety of the Mum’s sitting room on the ward.

It wasn’t when I returned home as a Mum and the Mother of my partner’s first born.

It wasn’t during the long,dark, sometimes lonely nights spent feeding.

The first time I felt truly vulnerable was the first few weeks I breastfed in public.

Spud was a good weight at birth but was long and scrawny and a snacker.  There was no chance of getting out and about without him wanting to feed.  He was fiddly to latch on at first so I dealt with this by latching him on in the loo (not a cubicle but the sink area) then popping a cellular blanket over him before emerging and relaxing.  This was pre-2010 so there was actually no official protection for Mums breastfeeding in public in the UK.

Looking back I wish I had had the confidence to just latch him on wherever we were sitting.  It wasn’t necessarily the opinions of others which bothered me but that I was aware of flashing more flesh than I was personally comfortable sharing with the great British public.

In the seven months I breastfed Spud I didn’t have one person look at me in a negative way or say anything to me about my breastfeeding him in public.  In the two and a half years that I have been breastfeeding Pooh Bear and the eighteen months or so in which he would breastfeed in public (he’s too busy to bother nowadays) I also never had a negative experience when breastfeeding him in public.

Breastfeeding hit the news again this week and with the news comes the comments.  Comments on social media, on TV, radio and the newspaper websites themselves.

I am tired of these uneducated comments…

Comments about how Mums should cover up if breastfeeding in public when it is socially acceptable to see naked breasts in shops selling tabloid newspapers, lad’s mags, DVDs, CDs, clothes, etc etc – Bare breasts are everywhere you look.

Comments likening breast milk to faeces, urine, semen and vomit – Breast milk is packed full of antibodies and actually kills germs.  It is also a foodstuff made for the purpose of nourishing babies it just happens to be packaged in an organ society has wrongly labelled as solely sexual.

Comments saying Mums should feed before they dare to step out of their homes – Most Mums will feed just before leaving the house but why should they cut a journey short because baby wants a feed half an hour later?

Comments suggesting babies should take a bottle when out and about – Easier said than done for some babies and why would you go to the hassle of expressing and using bottles if it’s not necessary?

Have you ever seen a Mum breastfeeding in public?  I can guarantee that nine times out of ten you will not have noticed a Mum breastfeeding right next to you.  If you should notice, what’s the worst that could happen?  You might catch the slightest glimpse of a nipple whilst baby latches on but after that, you will see more breast on show on a Summer’s day in the park or in five minutes watching a music channel.

If after reading this, you still think that breastfeeding in public is abhorrent then please promise me this…

Keep your opinion to yourself.

Don’t whack out a tweet, don’t dedicate your facebook status and more importantly, fight the need to insult a Mum publicly.

I am no longer that vulnerable first time Mum but it still saddens me when people feel that their right to say whatever they want stamps all over a babies right to eat.

Please don’t underestimate how much damage a throwaway status, tweet or comment as you walk past a Mum does.  Breastfeeding in public is a real issue for some breastfeeding Mums and I know Mums who have stopped breastfeeding before they wanted to because they were just too nervous to feed outside of their home.

Breastfeeding has nothing to do with breasts, boobies, tits, bazookas, jugs, or whatever else you want to call them, it is simply about a baby eating.  If it is acceptable for a baby to be bottle fed then it is acceptable for a baby to be breastfed in the same situation.

If you don’t already have children then perhaps when you do, you may be a little older and wiser and find yourself on the other side.  A vulnerable Mum trying to do her best.

Related articles:

Breastfeeding Friendly Chester

Reluctant Formula Feeder

Unicef Report on how Breastfeeding could save the NHS millions

Superfood for Babies and the #firsthour

26 Comments

November 13, 2013 · 12:11 pm

26 responses to “If Breastfeeding isn’t your bag, stop and think before you Tweet.

  1. great article,
    I am proud to say that although I was nervous when I first started I successfully fed both of mine to over a year, number 2 has only just stopped in the last couple of days at 14.5months (well hoping he has stopped so I can have a cheese binge at the weekend as I’ve ad to go dairy free for him)

    Why do people try and make out that breastfeeding is something odd that should be hidden away, it is the most normal and natural thing to do

    • That’s great Sarah! I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to change your diet but I’m sure your son will appreciate it when he is older to understand :)

      It never ceases to amaze me how heated people get when it comes to breastfeeding. I really hope we can get to a point where it is normal again and no-one bats an eye.

  2. completely agree, however it seems to be less acceptable these days to bottle feed too in public too. Unfortunately someone always has an opinion on what you do.

  3. What a great post I only got 1 negative comment when breast feeding my 1st in UK and it was from an old lady who felt the need to tell me there was a perfectly good toilet nearby and even though she had never had kids(!) her view was that although I was in a quiet cafe hidden away in the corner (and she had felt the need to walk past me 4 times before approaching me) I really shouldn’t inflict it on others. I told her more politely than I perhaps should have that if the toilet was so lovely perhaps she could eat her scone in there then so she didn’t subject herself to watching me feed. All done with a sweet smile on my face, think she was a bit confused and said yes and toddled off! Now that I am living in Oz I am about to give birth to my 2nd I wonder if it will be different here.

    • How rude of her and brilliant reply. I don’t know why people think it’s acceptable for a baby to eat in the loo when we certainly wouldn’t. From following other breastfeeding support groups online, Oz seems much more accepting of breastfeeding than her in the UK so hopefully you won’t have any old ladies bothering you x

  4. Pingback: #Countrykids at Wepre Park | life, love and living with boys

  5. jennypaulin

    well put!! I was the same as you, in that i was proud and happy to breastfeed and i did do it in public when i had to because i had not made it home i time but i was not confident to do it when out on my own!!
    i agree though it is just a natural thing to do a mummy feeding her baby – why is it such a bad thing? some people are thoughtless and ignorant and as you say should keep their thoughts to themselves x x

    • Yes, if you can’t say anything nice then don’t say anything at all! I’m glad you were able to find the confidence to feed your little one out and a bout when necessary. I think alot of the ignorance stems from just having no clue how it all works but hopefully we are changing that little by little x

  6. Georgina - a bad-arse breastfeeder (retired)

    I also remember that very vulnerable feeling. I went onto breastfeed three children for around 7 years. I fed in all sorts of places -on the train, in the mall, in cafes, on planes and the bus and memorably in the Sistine Chapel and at Disneyland California. I never once had a poor response. Maybe it was the aura of determined belligerence I gave off!

  7. Ali lonestar

    Anybody that has negative issues with breast feeding should realise that actually that’s what breasts are for! That is why we have them to nurture our babies and give them the best nutritious natural food available. It has so much good stuff in it and is the perfect temperature for them and much easier for them to digest. I don’t know why people have such issues with it.. I’m still feeding my little one at 2 years 3 months but I have to say would only now feed her if I was somewhere I didn’t think I might get abused for it. Anyway.. If like millions of people in the world you drink cows milk you’re essentially drinking a form of breast milk anyway..it’s just milk that was destined for a baby calf but we end up drinking it instead… I don’t know why we have such issues. Apparently we’re one of the worst countries for breast feeding our babies.. Shame really.. Empower yourself and give your baby the best.

  8. Kate

    I feel like printing copies off and taking it with me when I feed my son. Thank god for the staff in Costa Coffee in Kingston Park Hull who are so super helpful and friendly. I’m shy and never flash any flesh and wouldn’t, like you consider myself to be ‘vulnerable’ but when a man verbally abused me recently they rallied and asked him to either leave me alone or leave the cafe. You’re a star for writing this-thank you xx

    • Aaww, I’m sure it would have people thinking twice when they see how hard it can be for Mums to take the plunge. That is brilliant! I now officially LOVE Costa Coffee. It must have been amazing to have that support when you really needed it. I’d have been balling my eyes out, not because of the ignorant man but the way the staff reacted. Lovely x

  9. christy

    You’re totally right about not even realising someone is breastfeeding next to you. We were at a fayre last year and spotted a lady sat on her own at a large(ish) table so we asked if we could sit at the other side of the table to drink our drinks…my partner then started asking how old her baby was and how quiet he was….she managed to feed, finish, put baby in pram and fasten everything back up before he realised the baby was been fed!!! there was nothing on show, it was calm and no-one felt uncomfortable. quite lovely to see someone so comfortable with it all
    My friend used to be so embarrassed if someone would see her feeding she used to go sit in the toilet to feed, and even sat in another room when I was at her house even though I said I wouldn’t look/wouldn’t see/it was perfectly natural….its not right that women are made to feel embarrassed for feeding their child.

    • People are afraid of the unknown so the more we make Mums feel comfortable, the more Mums will feed in public and the less of a big deal it will become for the general public. I can understand if women feel uncomfortable about their own body and want to feed in private or use a cover but for any Mum to be made to feel uncomfortable is unacceptable. Hopefully we can get to a place where it is seen for all that it is, a baby feeding. thanks for popping by :)

  10. Fantastic post, well done you!!!

  11. Jane

    Brilliant well done. I am actually about to have my 4th child and have decided this time to try and breast feed. I am nervous about doing it at home let alone out in public, But this article has given me more confidence to go for it. Thank you

    • Oh well done for wanting to give it a go. The main thing that has come out of me writing this is that although there is a belief that people are rude to Mums in public that actually, most Mums have never had a negative experience. If you have a local support group, they can help build your confidence feeding in front of others and you will probably meet Mums who’d be up for a trip out. There’s always safety in numbers until you’re confident to give it a go by yourself :)

  12. What a great blog – I agree with every word. I fed in the most extraordinary of places and people would have had to really be trying to get a flash of boob – their problem not mine. If my baby needed feeding, that’s what I was going to do.
    My sister was evicted from a hotel on the Isle of Wight for feeding in the corner of the restaurant (which allowed dogs in!) They actually called the police and asked them to leave. How sad :(

  13. Evergreen

    I completely agree with this! It’s shocking how breastfeeding mothers are harassed. Fortunately I’ve never had any negative comments in all the time I’ve been breastfeeding, the worst was to express surprise that I’m still nursing my youngest who was two in July.

    • Unfortunately we’re in the minority so as with anything which is not ‘the norm’ you’re always going to get idiots thinking it’s ok to have a pop. High five, I’m still feeding Pooh Bear at over 2 and a half so get the surprised comments too but he sees no reason to stop so I’ll let him decide when he’s had enough. He doesn’t feed out and about now though, too busy to stop for snuggles :)

  14. Pingback: Forget about the breasts, babies need to eat! | life, love and living with boys

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