Breastfeeding Awareness Week

07/05/2009 19:06 | Updated 22 May 2015

Breastfeeding in public is a tricky business. You get the funny looks, the shocked glances, the averted eyes, the sniggers... it's all terribly embarrassing for everyone concerned, which is odd considering it's one of the most natural things that you can do.

The National Childbirth Trust Breastfeeding Awareness Week runs from the 10th to the 17th of May – and it's quite strange that this is an issue at all, but it is.

When I started breastfeeding my baby, I hadn't even thought about how it would affect anyone else. The first thing you think about is whether you can feed your baby.

But then the visitors start showing up, and you have to decide whether to whip your knorks out in front of them, or keep disappearing upstairs. If your baby is like mine, and wants to feed roughly every 20 minutes, this gets tiresome.

Then I realised that as I didn't have the right clothes, I was exposing my horrendous stretchmarks and flabby belly to the world every time I tried to feed my baby. So I invested in some button-up tops.

But I was still getting some strange looks, even at mums and toddlers groups. "Oh, you are brave, doing all that business in public," said one mother. I was still feeling self-conscious.

Eventually I discovered "discreet" nursing tops, designed to reveal the minimum amount of flesh. They should really tell you about these at antenatal classes.

Now I am getting braver about breastfeeding in public. But "discreet" isn't really the right word, if you have a baby who slurps, shouts, grumbles and smiles through her feeds. She seems determined to draw as much attention to the event as possible.

I will feed in cafes and so on but still feel a bit self-conscious. I often feel frowned-upon, and apologetic.

My favourite places are those which provide special feeding rooms – John Lewis has a really nice one, Mothercare do them – but they are few and far between. Every store and restaurant should have one, at least until people get more grown-up about breastfeeding.

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