So much of what we hear about feeding our babies in public is negative - stories from women being harassed and shamed for breastfeeding in public. While we believe that it is so important to respond to these incidents and educate people on the importance of normalizing breastfeeding, we also think that one of the best ways we can empower women is to share our positive experiences as well. Below is one of many examples of wonderful responses women receive while feeding their babies in public - meet Claire!
“Although I was born and brought up in the UK, my first experience of motherhood and subsequently breastfeeding was an all american one & in the Golden State of California. Although I had a nasty start to my mothering career (NICU, acid reflux & breastfeeding problems) I soon got into the swing of it, San Diego style. Motherhood is a serious business down in the 'Diego, but also a soft, fluffy, touchy, feely kind of business. I was part of a wonderful group of Mamas who did Stroller Strides. We were a village, a team, a sisterhood and to this day, I miss it. There was a genuine desire to help, share and offer advice, and an openness about breastfeeding was part of that. Initially I was embarrassed at whipping the girls out, but as time went on, that Bebe au Lait nursing cover got discarded and I felt comfortable feeding my first born wherever and whenever.
Fast forward to 2013 and I found myself back in the Land of my Birth. Such is the lot of a military family, we move frequently, but this was a good transition. I was going home! The plan was to try for another baby when we got to the UK. There were a few bumps in the road, but eventually Thomas made an appearance in December last year.
Now I have a very bad habit, (who doesn't, but it has a tendency to make the alarm bells go off in the sensationalist part of my brain) and that's my fondness for reading British tabloid newspapers. Hey, I needed to stay in touch with my old friends by knowing all of the British Z List wannabe's! It was my secret shame, come on, who doesn't love a bit of trash? My downfall is the Daily Mail (the British equivalent of the New York Post/National Enquirer) These guys could win Olympic Gold in rabble rousing. Their particular target seems to be breastfeeding mothers, as you can guarantee once a month there is an article dedicated to haranguing mothers for daring to feed their infants in public.
I think I managed to work myself up into such a frenzy that I was armed with a speech to challenge anyone who dared to try and stop me! Surprisingly, this hasn't been the case and I guess I am a little disappointed that I haven't had to inform anyone that if they tried to stop me, they were contravening the 2010 Equality Act! Of course, I have pre-empted any potential conflict with the return of the nursing cover, although this makes feeding a bit like getting in the ring with Mike Tyson, as Master Thomas does not like being covered up. I do get the sideways glances as they see the little feet thrashing around under a spotty pink cover, but I live in such a posh part of the country, everyone is far too polite to say anything!
Similarly, my expressing experience: on a rare date night with hubby we went all out and went for dinner at a very high class restaurant in London called Rules. This place is the real deal, I mean they filmed some of Downton Abbey there for goodness sake! But the half empty glass of water side of me fully expected to be relegated to the restrooms to pump, but if you don't ask, you don't get. Deep breath, let's ask the Maitre D, fully expecting a long look down the nose and face of horror. Shockingly, the gentleman in question not only said he could help me, but he took me to one of the private dining rooms and covered up the window so that I could pump in private. To top it off, he even bought me a glass of water! I wanted to kiss him and tell him that I wished all men were as open minded and affable as he. It seemed he was well versed in the womanly art of breastfeeding, as his wife breastfed all of their children and it was, in his words, a beautiful thing. Forget Bradley Cooper, this guy should be No1 on People Magazine's 100 Sexiest Men, because let's face it, there's nothing sexier than a man who acknowledges that breasts are more than just being Fun Bags for the Alpha Male!”
Do you have a positive breastfeeding in public story to share? Please email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.