I was in two minds about posting this. I didn’t want to rant but I’m kind of reeling. Also am terrified of the people in question ever reading this but here goes…
We’ve all read the stories about women being shamed for breastfeeding their babies in public. We’ve seen the photo of the mum, when asked to cover up, she covered her own face instead of her baby and boobs and I’ve considered myself very lucky that in my 20 month breastfeeding career I have not received any backlash in public. In fact most of the, at best, passive-aggressive commentary has come from those closest.
This afternoon was a gem.
Sitting in a posh restaurant waiting for some relatives and I thought I’d timed everything right and we may get through a meal without the kid asking for “mook*” – well of course not…. she started persistently asking and getting agitated and as we were just waiting at the table I figure a quick feed would be fine. And it was. The waiter that came to take a drinks order didn’t bat an eyelid, but then the family showed up:
Relative 1: “Are you sure you’re allowed to do that in here?”
Me: [stunned into momentary silence] Well, yes given it’s not illegal”
Relative 1: It may not be illegal but morally…. I mean…. at least cover up…**
Thankfully we were interrupted by Relative 2:
“Doesn’t she bite you with all her teeth? Or does she know better?”
Me: “Yes she knows better”
Here’s how I should have replied, and maybe one day, if I ever grow out of being so soft I might actually say:
“No, fuck off!”
“If the latch is correct there is no way she can actually bite. The tongue covers the lower teeth and the angle of her head means she’s not in a position to bring her top jaw down with any force”***
I’m sorry to say that later in the meal the kid asked for “mook” again but I felt shamed into telling her she’d have to wait. She was upset and it hurt my heart but she’s getting pretty good at picking up on social cues (for a toddler) and didn’t have a fit. Instead she waited patiently until we were on the train home. Incidentally, a train full of zombie commuters staring at their phones is probably the easiest/best place I’ve found to publicly feed the baby given it IS in fact illegal to make eye contact on London public transport.
I don’t breastfeed in public to make any sort of statement. I’m not purposely trying to make people feel uncomfortable. At this stage in the game, if I’m breastfeeding in public it’s because we’ve either been out and about all day or the child is upset about something and allowing her to breastfeed is the quickest and easiest way to soothe her. What would you prefer? A screaming banshee child or the possible risk that I might expose some boob flesh? Which, by the way, I got to an effort to minimise (thank god for the B Shirt – wish I’d found them sooner). I am looking forward to the day when I don’t have to think about ease of access to the “mook” when I get dressed but until that day comes I will continue to take care of my kid the best way I know how and if that means having to breastfeed in public I will do so discreetly. If that’s still not good enough… you know where you can go….
* My kid’s apparent thought process: Milk/Boob = Mook
**I was wearing a BelleBelly band under my top and was exposing far less skin than Relative 1 in her halter top with bra straps on show.
***My thanks to a local breastfeeding support volunteer for that explanation when I sought advice during a biting phase.