The topic of breastfeeding seems to pop in and out of the media more than a mother pops out her breast to feed her hungry baby. As I have a lot of pregnant friends around me at the moment too, breastfeeding is something I have found myself thinking about a lot lately.
Feeding your baby is what your boobs were put on your body for however for some reason, in the UK, we still seem to be prudish and even disgusted about the whole thing and I don’t understand why.
I do understand though that this attitude towards breastfeeding along with my own self consciousness and lack of confidence is what stopped me breastfeeding my daughter when I gave birth in 2014. I never once considered it. The idea of it made my stomach double up in knots.
I know there will be many people reading this thinking that I simply needed to “get over it” or put my babies needs first or just stop being “silly”. Anxiety is real though folks and had I forced myself to breastfeed, I know it wouldn’t have gone well. I would have panicked, been anxious and worried, not slept well and felt self conscious. This in turn could have caused problems for my baby in regards to latching and feeding well and even caused her health issues.
My daughter Savannah was an extremely hungry baby too so looking back I know I would have had her stuck to me most of the day and night. It would have stopped me going out because I wouldn’t have wanted to be in a position where I needed to breastfeed her publicly and if I did end up in that position I know I would have panicked.
Having come a long way in dealing with my anxiety since having my daughter I have learnt that insecurities and anxiety come partly from our own self criticisms and while we can feel self conscious doing certain things, the rest of the world is usually not looking and not even aware we are there in our flustered state.
That being said, I don’t think that is the case with breastfeeding. We are still hearing stories from women who are being shamed at feeding their babies in public places no matter how discreet they are being. We are still hearing stories about women who have nasty comments shouted or muttered at them in the street.
I knew I would be paranoid that someone would comment, I knew I would be paranoid that I didn’t want my chest exposed in public while trying to get my baby latched for a feed. I would have felt flustered, worried about what everyone else was thinking and panicked as I quickly fumbled to get myself into position to feed.
I don’t regret bottle feeding my daughter one bit. She was a healthy, happy baby and is a healthy, happy toddler today. She rarely gets ill and didn’t as a baby either plus my husband was extremely happy that from the day we brought her home he could be involved in feeds.
The point I am trying to make is simple; stop shaming mothers for breastfeeding their babies. Make it normal to see a breastfeeding mother in public, so that we don’t even bat an eyelid at it. Make mothers and their hungry babies the priority in public places, not the patrons who want to complain about it, so that they feel comfortable and secure and able to feed their hungry child without the worry they may be sneered at or asked to feed the baby in the toilet.
Stop shaming mothers for simply wanting to feed their children the way nature intended. It isn’t “disgusting”, it is natural and a breastfeeding mother has just as much right to sit in a cafe or go to the bank as anyone else.
We all have to share this planet so lets stop being judgemental and support each other.