If you would have asked me a few months ago whether I would breastfeed my baby, my answer would have been no. One of the reasons was the thought of having to breastfeed in public. 7 weeks in as Arlo’s mum, I’m breastfeeding and I have now done it in public.
My mum and I took a bus ride into Covent Garden this week and after a couple of hours of mooching around the shops, as expected Arlo woke up and he was hungry. We decided to go into one of the friendly pubs right by the square and we found a cozy booth right at the back. My nerves began to set in but I knew what I had to do. After a quick Google search to ensure I was within my rights to feed him in public as my mum’s reassurance wasn’t quite enough, I began to feed. Arlo settled really quickly just like he normally does, I was well covered, and my mum distracted me with a change of conversation.
Ten minutes in and I was feeling relaxed. There hadn’t been any funny looks or stares by anyone until a large group of older women settled at a table nearby. As soon as one of them spotted me, she turned to the lady next to her, pointed and then they said a few words to each other all the while looking awkward and concerned. I nudged my mum and we both stared back and they quickly looked away.
Breastfeeding in public is perfectly legal and mothers are protected by the Equality Act 2010, a law which bans unfair treatment and had the women been more vocal about their feelings about me feeding my child, then I would have been well within my rights and they would have been sex discriminating.
Although breastfeeding in public may not have been something that was at all common when they were my age, I believe that people should adjust to how it is today. Like mentioned, I was well covered up, we was in a booth towards the back of the seating area, and we wasn’t near anyone eating food.
Anyone who is breastfeeding, especially in the early weeks, know that you feed on demand. If your baby is hungry, you need to feed them. It’s at the right temperature and you can literally just sit down and feed them with no worries about any feeding equipment like bottles, sterilisers etc.
I am glad that I continued to breastfeed despite the funny looks which I received. I am however disappointed that my first experience of feeding my baby in public caused two women, who well could have been mothers themselves, to point and make a comment about my choice to feed my baby. I am a little bit sad that my personal choice as a mother had an impact on them so much so that they had to make me aware of it. People are entitled to have their opinions, but I was not harming anybody and I think it was totally unfair for them to stare and point in the way that they did. I am a first time young mum and I already felt anxious enough and it’s just a shame that the moment I started to feel relaxed, I was reminded by these two women that as a breastfeeding mother, I will be most likely judged in public.
I also believe that how ever a mother chooses to feed her baby, whether it be by the breast or formula by the bottle, someone will always be there to point, stare and judge. I will continue to breastfeed in public if my baby becomes hungry whilst I am out just like people will continue to have their opinions about it- I just hope young new mums who experience any form of judgement in public do not get put off of doing it again.
TOP TIP ~ Always carry a couple of muslins around with you. You can use them to clean up your baby if he or she brings back up any milk and you can also use them to cover yourself during the feed. Mothercare do a good range of square ones in different prints and colours.