I am a fairly shy person and I am not someone who wanders round with much skin exposed, in fact as a person who is cold a lot of the time I have been known to wear jumpers in summer! I am not really comfortable with my body, especially after giving birth (I have stretch marks over stretch marks). In fact I honestly thought that breastfeeding in public, or anywhere outside of my own home was going to be a problem. I wanted to breastfeed but I didn’t want to be ‘trapped’ at home until Boo was weaned off breastfeeding.
The first time I fed Boo outside my house, or the house of my parents was at a postnatal group which was labelled as breastfeeding friendly, it was ok, a little awkward as I seemed to need an extra pair of hands and felt really exposed. I think I felt worse because formula feeding seemed to be what the majority where doing and the other mummys who were breastfeeding seems to be so calm and confident. I didn’t feel remotely calm or confident. But after jumping that first hurdle things did feel a little better, less awkward. I continued to use this group to ‘practice’ (I obviosuly attended for other reasons but this was an added bonus).
After that gentle introduction to breastfeeding in public things didn’t go quite as smoothly, I was waiting to take Boo to a dr’s appointment in the waiting room when Boo needed feeding, so, as I was sat at the back of the room I discreetly tried to feed Boo, and as soon as I got her latched on BING her name came up, oh my god, oh my god, panic! Luckily my husband was there to stop me from having a complete melt down. I couldn’t unlatch Boo so I had to walk through the waiting room and to the drs room feeding a two month old Boo who was going out of her way to be as noisey as possible!
After that I felt a little bit less uncomfortable! I have fed Boo out and about lots of times and in lots of different places, and mainly I have had to deal with my own fear about things rather than other peoples reactions and opinions. That is not to say it has all been plain sailing and I have had to deal with some negative and some plain random reactions to my breastfeeding Boo.
I have had the ‘usual’ disgusted looks from people (I don’t know what is more sad, the fact that people feel disgusted by a mummy breastfeeding her baby or the fact that if people notice this seems to be one of the standard responses). I am discreet when I am feeding Boo, and I am sure lots of people don’t even notice, and I am also sure that I don’t notice a lot of people’s reactions who do notice, maybe the negative ones are just more obvious to see? In my experience it seems to be older women who give me the ‘disgusted’ look most often, which is surprising, to me at least. One reaction which sticks out in my mind is a waitress at one of my favorite restaurants, she just seemed to stop what she was doing and stare, I couldn’t really read the expression on her face, so I am not sure if she was surprised, or was just looking at me cuddling Boo and didn’t realise, or something else… at least she wasn’t disgusted!
I am lucky that I have never had anyone open say anything nasty to me, nor have I been asked to leave or move to be out of the way etc. Given the choice though, when shopping in my local town I usual feed Boo in a special room in a boutique baby store which is set up as a free place for mummys to feed their babies, however they choose too. It is quieter than a cafe etc and there at least I don’t risk offending anyone or getting any comments or hostility.
I feel very sad that I have to make decisions like this, as I should be able to feed Boo where and whenever I chose (within reason obviously) and I would never judge anyone for feeding their child in public, bottle or breast, so I am unsure why anyone feels it is acceptable to judge me? And why I should just be able to shrug off those negative looks, they make me feel uncomfortable (and other breastfeeding mums too, I imagine) and I shouldn’t be made to feel uncomfortable when I am doing something as natural as breastfeeding.
Do bottlefeeding mummys have to deal with random negativity from strangers? Do other breastfeeding mummys experience random negativity from strangers? (I can hope that it is just in my area but I doubt that). Why do people feel the need to judge other people?