I wish I could say I’m surprised to see that four years on from when I was last a mum to a tiny baby, nothing much has changed. The “Is it OK to breastfeed in public?” debate still rages on. Yawn.
Nigel Farage has waded into the debate this time, saying mums should not breastfeed “ostentatiously“, but sit quietly in a corner somewhere out of sight. By “ostentatious” I can only assume he means getting up on a table in the middle of a cafe with one breast in our baby’s mouth and the other bedecked in a flamboyant nipple tassle, while doing high kicks or – even better – twerking.
The UKIP leader’s comments mean he now has something in common with Kim Kardashian. They’re both against “ostentatious” breastfeeding in public – ironic given the pair are arguably the most irritatingly ostentatious people to regularly make their way onto my TV screen.
What exactly is the problem with breastfeeding in public anyway? I’m genuinely confused as to why, in 2014, we’re still having this discussion.
Seems to me it’s just another example of mums not being able to win. On the one hand we’re encouraged to breastfeed before we’ve even had our babies. But on the other, we have politicians, celebrities and posh eateries all telling us that breastfeeding is something we should cover up, as if it’s a bit gross.
When I was a new mum four years ago I hated breastfeeding in public for this very reason. I was worried I’d get shamed into covering up and felt completely vulnerable and on show. It became such a thing that I would spend time Googling “places to breastfeed” before I went anywhere. If there was nowhere obvious I’d panic.
Four years on and I simply don’t have the time to fret about this. I’ve fed my second baby in the park, on a boat, on benches in amusement parks, in cafes, walking around woods on family walks. Basically, if my baby’s hungry I feed her. I reason that a hungry baby screaming to be fed is far more annoying for people than a mum minding her own business breastfeeding.
For what it’s worth, I wouldn’t consider any of the above scenarios as “ostentatious” breastfeeding. There were no nipple tassles or twerking involved, I promise. I wear vests under my tops so I can easily pull my jumper up and my vest down, meaning there’s no full boobage on display. (This isn’t because I’m worried about offending Nigel or Kim mind, it’s simply because it’s too flipping cold at the moment.)
I haven’t used a cover up though. And this is because a) my baby doesn’t seem keen on having a piece of material over her head while she’s feeding and b) it’s quicker just to put her on the boob than mess around with a cover up. I’m thinking of my baby AND the people around me – no one needs to hear my hungry baby screaming.
Anyway, to all those who are offended by breastfeeding in public – please ask yourselves why. I would hazard a guess that any answer you come up with says more about your own issues than anything to do with the mother breastfeeding.
I can only hope that by the time my own daughters are mums themselves, this whole debate will be ancient history.
Amy Ransom says
Spot on Molly. I share your confusion. WHAT is the issue here? They’re boobs. They make milk. Babies like milk…
Get over it people.
(Hope you’re well lovely x)
Great post Molly. The cynic in me says he’s doing it to be invited on to Woman’s Hour (as he has done before) just to get air time. I never had one complaint from anyone when I breastfed my two and that was in the eighties and nineties. In fact, I was complimented by cabin crew for the best behaved baby on a flight!!! I swear some people have regressed!!!
He’s a first-class moron that Farage isn’t he? It frightens me that people take him seriously and that there’s any remote possibility that he might have some influence on the running of the country. That idiots like him can be partly responsible for mothers feeling self-conscious about doing the most natural thing in the world makes me furious. I agree, I hope my daughter doesn’t have to put up with any of this nonsense in the future.
Oh I really hope that by the time our daughters are mothers this will be all old hat! After three children and four and a bit years of nursing I clearly have no shame and I’m entirely unselfconscious about it but even then I draw the line at nipple tassels and can can dancing on the tables – though I think my son might be trying out the can can dancing he’s such a wriggler. I’ve fed my babies when they need feeding and I’m pretty sure you’d have to really look and know what you were looking for to be certain that I wasn’t just giving them a cuddle – I’d love to know whether they thought that was ostentatious!
It’s a joke really isn’t it?! Seems that if your baby is nosy and bobs off the boob for a look around then you’d be guilty of “ostentatious breastfeeding”. As if feeding your baby is an attention-seeking activity. Every mum I know would rather just get on with it without an audience – myself included!
I have been freaking out for months about the “breasfeeding in public” thing to such an extent that I actually think I’ll need to express because I’ll feel too self conscious – reading stupid remarks from, arguably two of the biggest tits alive (Farage + Kim) just compounds the issue and makes first time mums who want to try feel even worse about it!
Oh please don’t let idiots make you feel self-conscious! I know exactly how you feel because I was the same with my first daughter. I planned to express and do the bottle thing in public too – but my baby would never take a bottle so I didn’t have a choice! This time around I just don’t have time for constant expressing and, to be honest, it’s such a faff I’m too lazy! x
Katy Hill says
Well said lady! It’s the most ridiculous argument EVER. I never did master the “in public” thing as I think I was so stressed about it, my kids would sense something was up and bob off for a good look around, thus exposing boobage… which handily rhymes with Farage… AND Tosspot. Oh no… wait?! *checks rhyming dictionary
No, I’m pretty sure you’ve nailed the rhyming there!
awesome post and I remember feeding chloe in BHS cafe whilst grabbing a coffee and feeling so relaxed that I was not ‘obvious’ yet able to feed my baby and get some nourishment myself. I truly felt content.
Ah I wish I’d been able to feel like that first time around. I wasted so much time stressing about it!
Gill Crawshaw says
That man gives me the post-pregno rage like no other! And he’s totally wrong because it’s not up to Claridges to decide, it’s against the law to discriminate against breastfeeding women. *rant rant*. Great post xx
I know! He said in his interview it should be up to businesses to decide their policy – but that’s just a massive step backwards! Usually I manage to blank out much of what Farage says but this one hit home.