You don’t have to go far to catch sight of a woman feeding a baby with a bottle do you? I mean they’re everywhere right? At the park, in cafes, in playgroups, sat outside shops, on park benches, travelling on public transport, waiting in waiting rooms… My God the list is exhausting!
But a breast-feeding mum, that can be quite rare.
Oh she probably is there somewhere, like a kingfisher lost in the colours of a riverbank, you just didn’t see her. Because contrary to popular belief, a breast feeding mum isn’t “getting them out here, there and everywhere”, she’s usually quietly sat in the corner, her top slightly ruched, with a baby wrapped around her belly as if it were sleeping.
But when I do see her, catch a glimpse of a feeding position or realise later, she was ACTUALLY breast-feeding her baby something I hadn’t noticed straight away, I always feel the need to go over and hug her, congratulate her, suffocate her in admiration. But I stop myself. She doesn’t need that. Because the likelihood is, to have got to this point, she already knows how amazing she is.
Because unfortunately for most, breast-feeding isn’t easy, it’s bloody hard work; there’s a lot of tears, angst, self doubt and challenges to overcome. Then if the skill (which it most definitely is) is mastered, having the confidence to do it in front of people isn’t as simple as just “getting them out”.
Breastfeeding in public requires a thick skin, a subtle amount of confidence, a grounded outlook and a positive attitude. Some people are fortunate to have these already. Others have to find them, muster them or grow them.
I was one of these women.
For me the act of breastfeeding was relatively easy. OK I’ll take those rose tinted glasses off… Yes with my first there were some challenges. But compared to other peoples’ hardships, mine were quite easily overcome.
But I think i know why
Firstly, I did have an emergency c-section with my first, this meant I was in hospital for three nights after his birth. During my stay the breastfeeding support, advice and warmth I received from the midwives was first class. And if, like other new mums, I had discharged myself at the first opportunity, it may have been a different story.
Secondly breastfeeding wasn’t really a choice for me, in my head it’s just how you feed your baby. I’m pretty sure I breast fed my dolls. You know, after I’d given birth to them out of my jumper. But that’s because I watched my Mum feeding my brother till he was two years old. Because she breast feed me whilst she breast fed my 18 month older sister, because she’s probably still remembered by some, thirty years on, as “THAT women who breast fed in the cricket club” But for me, us, our family, it was the norm. So of course I was going to breast feed my own.
And, although now,as I type one handed whilst breast feeding my third son, it’s difficult to remember the struggles, but there were some. In fact sometimes it was a two person job, (three if my mum was visiting) as me and The FH tried to get O to latch on to an over inflated, veiny, water-melon-shaped-boob that would project milk spray if the wind blew the wrong way. And yes, there were tears and tantrums as we desperately tried to remember the exact position of infamous “rugby-ball” that had “SAVED THE DAY” on ward 17.
But when I got it, I really did get it and it seemed to be plain sailing…
Outdoors was a whole other kettle of fish.
I was really self-conscious. Worried (I have No idea why) about what others thought.Scared Petrified about receiving negative comments (which unfortunately some women do). Convinced the world wanted to watch me feed my baby – which I have now realised it doesn’t, but it should – I’m bloody good at it. But the reality is most people couldn’t care less, they have their own lives to get on with, and really just aren’t that interested in seeing my boobs; be it going topless on a beach in the Caribbean or feeding my child in the middle of a shopping centre, 99% of the population just aren’t that interested.
But it took having three children to really understand this, to stop caring and to be really comfortable breast feeding in public, I’m not sure what happened to make me this self-concious, but somewhere between being the girl who breast fed her dolls and becoming the young women who sunbathed topless on holiday, I let some people’s idiotic views influence me. Which is a shame. A real shame. I wish I felt like I do now when I had my first, but it was a learning curve and I’m just glad I got there in the end.
I do believe that if breast-feeding did in fact make your boobs firmer that a lot more families would do it. Regrettably, in our shallow, vain and image-obsessed culture, health incentives for you and your baby aren’t enough. But it seems if it gave you a cracking pair of tits we’d all be doing it!
I don’t like to preach, or tell people they should do this, that or the other, purely because I have been on the receiving end of that… and it’s exceptionally annoying
But I don’t mind being smug, so here goes… One thing I am sure of, the decision to breastfeed my children is one of the best decisions I have ever made.
So if you do happen to come across a women breast-feeding her child in public, you just need to do one thing: smile! Whatever you think, however you were fed, however you feed, just smile at her… Because I can assure you of one thing, she’s not doing it to get attention, that baby is just bloody hungry!