I never really considered myself to be much of a feminist until I started breastfeeding. Then it became apparent that there are a lot of people who dislike public breastfeeding and are quite vocal about it. The simple act of breastfeeding your child outside has become a real opinion poll and you’d be surprised at the looks or rather the glares you get of distaste and disdain when you try to do what seems very natural, to breastfeed your child.
You realise soon enough after giving birth that the ownership of your breasts rest solely with your newborn. You have no idea when that permit will expire and much to the frustration of your partner, you both agreed to sign those rights over 9 months ago. Now I’m all for privacy and being subtle when it comes to sharing flesh in public but honestly when a baby needs to feed, should I feel persecuted for it? Motherhood is already a very isolating experience and now it seems as though we have the unimpressed eyes of those who want us to be shunned to a corner, our car’s or back to our houses.
I’ve Been There:
I remember having lunch at a nice café in quite an affluent area and my newborn on arrival decided that he wanted to make himself heard and cry without pause for the entire get together. He didn’t want to be passed around, he didn’t want to sit quietly and play with his toys and he certainly didn’t intend for me to enjoy my lunch with friends. There was an older couple, retirement age sitting next to us and I could feel the looks of annoyance burning a hole in the back of my skull. They made subtle glances at me and I could hear hushed comments being made, all while I tried to remain calm. I could have easy whipped out the milk soothers then and there but I felt so self-conscious and flustered from it all that I ended up walking out and feeding my son in the car down the road.
Share The Love:
As far as I’m concerned, breastfeeding is like all those other human reflexes-blowing your nose, or burping or farting…it needs to be done and there are subtle ways to go about it! I don’t advocate a field of breasts out in the sunshine when I head to a café for my Sunday coffee but I do understand the importance of a new mum getting out and about. There is no need to stand up and declare that you are about to unhinge your maternity bra and feed your ravenous child, just a subtle sling of the shawl over your shoulder and continue like it’s nothing at all.
What about giving those mothers a smile, a virtual pat on the back for leaving the house today? How about a high five for being outside and risking a toddler tantrum, or a newborn blowout, or a poo explosion in a public place? What about a ‘good on you’ for doing the toughest of jobs with very little recognition whilst trying to find some normalcy in this new world? Mums need support and I support mums who support their kids with breastfeeding so look away haters and free the nipple I say.
Author: Elise Bradfield @elise_bradfield