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.