Why I’m not embarrassed about breastfeeding in public (and you shouldn’t be either)
How do you feel about breastfeeding in public?
Breastfeeding in public, how do you feel about it – fine, comfortable, relaxed…or slightly awkward and really reluctant to do it?
A new poll out this week found that a third of breastfeeding mothers shy away from doing it in public and feel embarrassed or uncomfortable, with 1 in 5 feeling people don’t want them to feed in public.
Breastfeeding in public can be pretty intimidating the first few times you do it, I completely get it. The first few times I felt for sure like everyone was looking, as if I had a giant neon sign on my head and someone with a negative reaction was just waiting for me to start. There are always times where it’s more awkward, you feel more exposed. And you’ve spent your whole life covering up your body so it goes against all your instincts to just get them out in public. It’s very…un-British, isn’t it?
But feeling free to feed is something I feel really passionately about. So here’s all the reasons I completely, absolutely and utterly refuse to be embarrassed about breastfeeding in public, and you shouldn’t be either:
Breastfeeding in public – why you shouldn’t be afraid:
- Because nobody puts baby in the corner…it’s illegal to ask women to leave a public place or cover up due to breastfeeding; the law is on your side. And anyone that makes a big deal of it will – hopefully – end up making a bigger tit of themselves in the process (pun intended)
- Because it might not be as bad as you think…Sometimes the thought can be worse than actual act, especially if negative stories in the press give the impression the world is full of Daily Mail reading, pitchfork and placard waving waiters who are waiting, poised and ready to cover people up with tablecloths at the slightest shocking hint of a *gasp* nipple. I’ve breastfed in millions of places in public, from trains to parks, restaurants and even the gorilla enclosure at London Zoo, and not once had a negative reaction (in fact I’ve had nothing but positive reactions, which is weird but lovely). I might just have been lucky but I’d like to think the vast majority of people don’t care, are probably more embarrassed than you or don’t actually notice
- Because it’s not just about food… breastfeeding is about comfort, and love, and reassurance, and connection, at many and any times – and you can’t predict these or neatly schedule them into adult’s meal time slots. So unless you stay in the house at all times it’s difficult not to do it in public at some point
- Because I want my daughters to know it’s a non-issue…I’m hyper-aware that Eliza notices and picks up on every little thing that even I don’t notice. She often mentions things that happened weeks ago that I wasn’t aware she was aware of. She knows when Florence wants the boob (often she tells me). If I was to shy away from doing this in public then it’s something she would be bound to pick up on, and what kind of message is that giving about our bodies?
- Because it’s really not a big deal….move along people, nothing to see here
- Because it’s not like taking all your clothes off in public…classic anxiety dream alert! But especially if you do the vest under top trick (more breastfeeding hacks here) you don’t have to expose much at all. Unless you want, because I don’t think you should have to be discreet about it
- Because I’m too tired to care...first time breastfeeding was a massive deal in many respects. We struggled for a long time and it took many tear-filled and painful weeks for it to click. This time it’s so beautifully, wonderfully ordinary that it’s not a big deal at all, especially combined with being sleep deprived
- Because, ultimately, babies are the priority…why should we not prioritise their basic and fundamental needs over the potentially hurt feelings of grown adults who should know better instead? Public parental judgement is ridiculous enough and no-one should have the power to make you feel uncomfortable about how you choose to feed your child. Basically, it’s no-one’s business but you and your baby.
In short, go forth and get them out with confidence.