I listened to a particularly odious rant on my local radio station about breastfeeding the other day. Yes Radio Solent I'm looking at you.
Widely quoted across the press were the comments regarding the breastfeeding habits of two types of breastfeeding mothers: the 'librarian types...earth mothers' and the 'classy...yummy mummies'.
This is obviously an extreme example but we can all be guilty of pigeonholing people. We can all sometimes forget that every person we meet is a complex, multifaceted individual.
So in a bid to remember my very own multi-facetedness (not a word), here are the ten types of breastfeeding mother I was:
1. The 'I Hate It' breastfeeder
I do, I hate it! Am I doing it right? It's painful, it's tiring, it's stressful.
2. The Proud breastfeeder
My body can do THIS. Wow. I love it.
3. The One Position breastfeeder
Oh, this is harder than it look. It would seem I can only successfully breastfeed my baby lying down .
Forget feeding in public, I'll do well to feed in my living room.
4. The Going Out On The Town breastfeeder
Yes I'm going out!
Make up on, hair done. Heels ready by front door. LBD on after bedtime feed (learnt that the hard way).
Travel no more than 15 minutes away as slim chance baby will wake hungry, thirsty, sad.
5. The Self Conscious breastfeeder
I will tie this scarf around myself and my baby fourteen times if it means no one will see me. I am invisible now aren't I?
No. The café clientele are puzzled about the bizarre acrobatics I am making my baby do, until my head emerges triumphantly from the scarf-den and I loudly declare 'yes, he's on!'.
Cue kindly congratulations from fellow café inhabitants.
Thank you, thank you very much.
6. The Confident breastfeeder
I'm on a train and the baby needs a feed? No problem.
What's that? The train has arrived in London Victoria and we need to disembark? Umm... No problem...! Walking feeds are so me.
7. The Organic, Healthy Living breastfeeder
Cabbage leaves down my bra, oats on my breakfast. Vitamins, manuka honey, the works.
8. The Sod it I Need a Glass of Wine breastfeeder
Sod it, I need a glass of wine. Oh and a takeaway. And a gin and tonic.
9. The 'Will My Baby Ever Stop Breastfeeding?' breastfeeder
What!? My baby will still need breastfeeding after six months? After twelve months? I did not know this.
Will my baby/toddler ever stop breastfeeding?
10. The Ex-breastfeeder
Yes he will stop breastfeeding. They all stop eventually. He has stopped breastfeeding.
Bye bye breastfeeding.
Just happy memories of a hard, complicated, beautiful relationship left now.
So you see it's never straightforward, I was never just one type of breastfeeder. In exactly the same way I'm not just one type of mother or one type of person. I'm lots, all at once sometimes. Like everyone else. Phew, think I need a lie down.
The radio programme that 'inspired' this post focused on how uncomfortable seeing a breastfeeding mother can make others feel. It was such disappointing broadcasting on so many levels, not least because the UK can actually be a great place to breastfeed when out and about.
A breastfeeding woman is entitled to breastfeed her baby/child in public in the UK and she is protected under the Equality Act 2010. Maternity Action provide wonderful clarity on the ins and outs of what this means.
It can also be reassuring to be made actively welcome when contemplating breastfeeding in public. Fortunately there's the rather lovely Breastfeeding Welcome Scheme that runs nationwide.
Finally there are a myriad of support agencies who can offer help with all aspects of breastfeeding. I'll list a few here, but there are many more that I haven't mentioned that work both nationally and locally:
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