Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Breastfeeding in public

If you are a Mum with a blog on parenting, you eventually need to do a post on the topic of breastfeeding in public, so here is my (first)attempt on the subject.

I chose to breastfeed my daughter for many reasons and although it was quite far down the list, one of the reasons was that I wouldn't need to make up bottles/warm bottles and that particularly when we were out and about I wouldn't need to think about it in advance, my boobs would just be there! What? I hear you cry, but being able to breastfeed in public was one of the things that attracted me to the idea.  It just seems easier to me.

Naomi has a picnic in the park

That said, there are a few things to think about when you are getting ready to actually *do* the feeding.

Now, I am quite happy to argue that during a feed my breast is not a sexual thing at all, it is an implement by which my daughter gets food, that said, I don't really want everyone looking at my boobs and many people don't want to look at them either (and I don't blame them!) so I have had to find ways of being subtle about getting my boobs out.  To begin with I though I would use a booby tent (as I like to call them) (link only given to show you what I mean!) and I was given one by a friend, but when it came down to it I just got myself in a muddle if I tried to use it.  I often ended up exposing more of myself in attempt to get the baby under it, my boob out and in her mouth! Although I know lots of people who swear by these things.

My next thought was to use a muslin or something similar, just get the baby on the boob and quickly cover her (and more to the point me) up, but she did not approve of this plan, when she was younger she wanted to be able to see me and now she is older she wants to be able to see everything (although I sometimes use a muslin now to attempt to reduce distractions) and so would wriggle around and pull at the muslin till it was gone, again only drawing attention to my semi nakedness!

Eventually we have come up with a compromise, I didn't want to be one of those Mums who just gets their whole boob out and to hell with what anyone else thinks, I find that slightly passive-aggressive, yet  am not ashamed of breastfeeding my little girl and I do think it is one of the most natural things in the world.  So we have developed (through practice) and technique that involves pulling my jumper down over my boob (although with the nipple still accessible) and then letting Naomi's head provide a screen to the rest of the world, I have looked at my reflection in shop windows and think that although it is very obvious I am feeding there is nothing to see at all, most girls in a skimpy top show off far more than I am.

There have been one or two major disasters, most notably the day that for some reason I became completely confused as to how to work my clothes (let's put it down to baby brain) and before I knew it my whole boob was out and the baby was nowhere near it.  One poor lady turned round and caught a glimpse before turning away, she apologised.  I told her not to worry as it wasn't her fault that I had got half naked in my town's shopping centre!

By and by this works though.  I am very fortunate not to have experienced some of the issues that others report with people giving them a hard time or asking them to move on.  This brings me to the reason I started this post, a few days ago I was sitting on a bench in town feeding Naomi and using my spare hand to turn her buggy round into a pram so she could sleep and making a bit of a pigs ear of it.  A lady walked past and then came back to me, "I just want to say..." Oh No! I thought, this is it, and I can't even go anywhere because Naomi was in the middle of what seemed to be a terribly satisfying feed! Anyway, random lady continued "...I am so proud of you for breastfeeding".  She told me how she had fed all three of hers for at least a year and it made her sad that so many people used formula and then she went on her way.  It is quite random to think that someone would come up to me and tell me they are proud of me, but I guess I quite liked it!

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