On breastfeeding in public

I’m coming up for air (literally!) after a weekend which has been spent mostly moving between our living room and the bathroom with our three year old as we (finally) try to crack potty training – more on that another time perhaps.

Anyway, back to the reason I’m here – I felt like chiming in to the pro-breastfeeding in public debate that’s currently raging on most social media after a Sports Direct store in Nottingham allegedly demanded that a woman leave the store purely because she had sat down and started to breastfeed her baby son.

Breastfeeding is really tough. My journey with it has taken two forms – one for each of my children. With Elliot, my first, it was plain sailing for a while but after a few weeks I began to find it quite hard. There was pain, tears and a crying baby much of the time, and I spent days with blocked ducts wishing he was bottle fed but at the same time not wanting to stop just yet. I bribed myself weekly to just make it another week – partly because I didn’t know how to stop without causing more pain, and also aware of the guilt I may feel if I did. Eventually we mixed fed him from about 4 months until a fateful day in month 8 or 9 where he bit me and that was it. No more boob. To be honest, he didn’t bat an eyelid. As long as food reached him in some form, he was happy. I wish I’d realised this sooner.

With Alexander it’s been a different story. After a few ouchy days to start off, we’ve settled into feeding so well that I now have an issue where he simply refuses a bottle, so I’m stuck. Unable to go out, or leave him anywhere for longer than about 2 hours. Oops.

But back to the debate in hand. I feel so awful for the woman in question. You are really pretty vulnerable when feeding in public – despite the obvious fact that you’ve got your boob out (enough to make most people feel at least a bit self conscious), you’ve also got the issue of a hungry, and therefore probably not the quietest, baby to deal with which inevitably brings the attention of 99% of the people in the area all focusing on you. As a mum it can be really hard to block this out long enough to shush your baby whilst getting a bit of your body, that you don’t really want to be waving about, out whilst covering enough of it so as not to draw attention. Oh and of course this is mostly done with one hand if you’re also holding said crying baby with the other. Add to that keeping an eye on any other kids you may have to make sure they’re not running off/talking to strangers/throwing themselves under buses etc, and you’ve got yourselves a headache of a situation. Quite frankly it’s way easier to stay at home. But we don’t, of course, and that’s why Sports Direct should be so ashamed of their staff members involved. Let’s not add another reason to the already huge list which makes feeding our babies in public the ridiculous obstacle it is today, shall we?

After all, if she’d been feeding the baby from a bottle, would we even be having this debate?