Why did I find breastfeeding in public such an ordeal?

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I’m a mum of two, one 4 years old and one nearly 7 months old. My two breastfeeding experiences couldn’t be any different. First time round it all went horribly wrong. I wanted to do it because it is best for baby and I know all the benefits. I wanted to be a good parent. I was devastated that it didn’t go well but had to accept that it just wasn’t working. Mastitis, incredibly sore, bleeding nipples, petrified of feeding in public and tears every feeding time (from me) put a stop to it.  

In my post pregnancy haze, post emergency cesarean and post breastfeeding nightmare I felt like a failure, I couldn’t get anything right. Time went on and my little baby girl is growing up a beautiful healthy little girl. I now see that motherhood is filled with trials and experiences, highs and lows and gaining perspective on these early days takes time and a clear head.

On to baby number two, a bouncing baby boy. This time I was not going to beat myself up if I couldn’t breastfeed. But he did. Perfectly. No sore nipples. No mastitis. No tears whilst feeding him. Fabulous. I’ve cracked it, I thought.

The next challenge was feeding in public. Although awkward at first I was determined. I vividly remember sitting in my local Costa. I was feeling brave venturing out, hoping my little boy would remain sleeping while I enjoyed a bru. He awoke. Hungry. Doing that warning cry babies do before they let loose. Here we go, adjust bra straps, baby in position, latch baby on and off we go. Oh hang on he’s having a wriggle. Trying to remain calm, heart beating faster, feeling a bit sweaty. He’s latched back on again. I look around to see if anyone is watching. I’m convinced that couple in the corner watched me struggle or am I imagining it? I look down to see this little face feeding contently and whilst I relish in this moment, satisfied and proud that I can do it I still feel anxious. I look down and check nothing is on show, I check around to make sure nobody is watching. He finishes his feed calmly and I manage to fasten back up. Relief. I did it. 

Over time I am pleased to say I never encountered negativity. I am aware that plenty of breastfeeding mums do receive negative comments and looks from people when out and about. So please, if you are reading this next time you see a breastfeeding mum or a struggling mum for that matter (often you can’t actually tell) offer a smile, offer to pour the cup of tea that is stewing in the pot. Please don’t tut or look in disgust. Breastfeeding is natural and in part what women are built for. Under the facade of ‘I’m coping’ is often a mum who is anxious and conscious of her parenting abilities. Lets support each other and help each other feel good. But if you don’t like it, don’t look. 

If you run an establishment, please encourage your staff and therefore your establishment to adopt a breastfeeding friendly attitude.

To any new mums breastfeeding, double layers. Two tops. One up and one down. I didn’t figure that one out until little one was about 2 month old!

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One Messy Mama

8 COMMENTS

  1. Well done, it is so nerve wracking that first feed in public! I remember mine – it was a when baby was a week old, and we had gathered in a local pub for a family meal to introduce the babies (my brother had twins the week before my little boy) so there were 15 adults and 5 children in total at the table, plus a pub full of strangers. I’m pleased to say I kept my cool, fed him with no problems and no-one batted an eyelid – and that was pretty much how it was for the next 15 months! Great tip on one up, one down – I always did this and it makes it so much easier to be discreet! #GlobalBlogging

    • It is so nerve wracking. I felt as though everyone could see that too!! You were brave to do it at a family gathering. Thanks for reading the post and for the comment.

  2. I’ve always fed in public, but I have always had a cover. Not sure if I could do it without a cover. I’m a bit nervous about that! But in front of family and friends in my home, I don’t mind at all…. haha! Weird! Thank you for sharing !! #globalblogging

    • As much as I tried to convince myself I shouldn’t feel anxious about feeding in public, I think I always did. I started off using a large muslin as a cover. As I got more confident I just made sure I was wearing clothes I could comfortably feed in. Thanks for reading.

  3. My first breast feeding experience with my eldest was horrific so when my youngest came along I went straight to the bottle and what a relief that was on so many levels. I am in awe of those that succeed and persist with breastfeeding but confess to not being a fan of doing it in public. I can’t put my finger on it, it just doesn’t sit well with me. I don’t tut, I don’t frown, I just dont’ just get it and I think a large part of that is just my boobs were never good at it so I am not in the breast feeding zone. My American friends always had a beautiful cape that they attached around their neck so that you couldn’t see anything and they didn’t have to worry about exposing themselves, not sure if they are a thing in the UK. #globalblogging

    • I know exactly what you mean. With my youngest I really didn’t expect it go as well as it did. I had everything in ready for formula feeding. If things had been as hard second time round as the first I don’t think I would have persisted. The breastfeeding capes are becoming popular in the UK.

  4. Yay! So glad you had a better experience with your son and that you did it in public. I felt like I was reading my own thoughts when I first breastfed in public. It’s so scary but also it’s so natural so I think the pro weighs out the con : ). Thanks for sharing your story and linking up with #GlobalBlogging!

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