The title of this post is thankfully not my view-point but those of many people around me during the first 6 months of my daughter’s life after I exercised my right to breastfeed my child in public.
I had read up on what to do, how to be discreet, where I could go feed my baby, why it was good for my baby and why I should be proud to do so. While I was struggling with it initially, I sought the help of breastfeeding counsellors who discovered my daughter liked sleep more than feeding so helped us on the right path. It took me about a month to get to grips with it. Once I finally got it down I was then nervous to leave my house in case I had to do it in public.
When I finally decided to brave it, responses from strangers were mixed. Many people looked at me as though I was doing something wrong, they would comment under their breath then and walk off. My daughter, over a period also grew nervous of any attention while feeding. This left me sitting inside my car in car parks, or in toilet cubicles that were smelly and icky, hiding away from the world when my exclusively breastfed daughter was peckish. Breastfeeding is a vision of motherhood I thought everyone had come to terms with and supported. My husband told me of a story he heard where someone complained while in Starbucks that a woman was breastfeeding her child in the shop. The attendant told the person if he didn’t like it then he should leave. It’s also well promoted by healthcare workers that I thought our society was used to it and would celebrate it.
Even a few members of my own family found it unpleasant a thought. We still seem to have a long way to go as a society. I am proud that I did it for the first six months and my only regret is that I had to stop when I went back to work. I stopped for a number of reasons, one of which was guilt. I’ll write a post about that sometime.
Of course I shouldn’t forget to thank the people who smiled and understood, who looked away in respect when was in danger of being over-exposed. Finally to those who took it in their stride and made my daughter feel comfortable enough to feed in public on a few occasions, you are awesome and I thank you!
Breastfeeding is a gift I was able to share with my daughter. It’s not possible for everyone and I certainly don’t believe a mother that does not breastfeed has done her child any harm. I’m just proud to have been able to have that precious bond with my daughter, one which I still miss a year on.
A word for mothers struggling with the idea of breastfeeding and whom may hide away; you have nothing to be afraid of, you are perfectly suited and built to nurture. If you choose to breastfeed and your body is able to produce enough to meet your child’s needs, celebrate this and ignore the haters. You are awesome, be you and be happy with you.