Why did I find breastfeeding in public such an ordeal?
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!