The Breastfeeding Chronicles – Bit of a Boob.

This week, I read about a breastfeeding mother who, whilst breastfeeding her baby in a high street store, was not only asked to stop breastfeeding her baby and move to somewhere more discreet but when she refused, her baby was removed from her breast so the female could be removed from the store.

General view of Primark shoppers in Oxford Street, central London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday November 4, 2014. See PA story. Photo credit should read: Nick Ansell/PA Wire

General view of Primark shoppers in Oxford Street, central London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday November 4, 2014. See PA story. Photo credit should read: Nick Ansell/PA Wire

This story is what my nightmares are made of. I feel ill at the thought of being publicly humiliated by being asked to cover up/move/leave whilst I breastfeed, but to think my baby could be touched, let alone removed from my breast, makes me angry to the core and scared.

But you know what makes me even angrier? When stories like this aren’t true.

Yep. The woman apparently made it up. Or at least no evidence (CCTV or witnesses) have been found to support her claim. Why she lied? Who knows. But what’s worried me now is how completely damaging this has been towards the breastfeeding community.

Firstly, we breastfeeders have a tough enough time fighting against those that have issues with breastfeeding in public, not to mention fighting our own personal confidence issues when it comes to breastfeeding in public. A day doesn’t go by where there isn’t a story about how a woman has genuinely been targeted for breastfeeding in public

As a newbie to breastfeeding; if this story had been true I would have been mortified and probably never left the house, let alone visited the store in question. Thank god it isn’t, but it could have. I had a tough enough time gaining confidence to feed outside, and I don’t usually give a hoot about anything. I dread to think the effect it could have or may have already had on someone who’s naturally nervous/shy.

Stories like this, where the woman has been found out to be lying, not only make us breastfeeders look aggressive, like we’re going to shout and scream, or immediately accuse anyone who approaches us of harassment when they might not be, but it completely belittles our cause – giving any genuine bad experience room for doubt!

Secondly, and probably the most upsetting outcome of this, is that a popular breastfeeding Facebook page (one that I follow and have visited on a number of occasions for support) called “Free to Feed” is now in the process of deleting their page for reasons I have attached.


I am deeply saddened by this and have only become more angry at the whole, unnecessary situation.

I have no idea why this woman lied or felt the need to create this story – I’m not sure what her gain would have been. But what I do know is that she’s done some serious damage to the breastfeeding community this week, and those within it.

It is a sad sad day.

K

Why I Breastfeed…

As part of national breastfeeding week; a campaign dedicated to raising awareness, increasing acceptance, and promoting support, the lovely Vivienne from Another Bun invited me to join in on her #whyibreastfeed campaign as part of the week long campaign by UNICEF.

Although I already actively write about my breastfeeding journey, I couldn’t not get involved. Breastfeeding is such a huge part of my life, and something I take very seriously. Here’s why I do it:-

Free food. I’d be surprised if this doesn’t go through your mind when you’re having a bad day, have you seen price of formula? It certainly drives me to continue.

It’s convenient. Although definately not easy at first, once you get the hang of it; whether at home or out – it’s easy just to whip your boob out to comfort or feed your baby.

No washing up. A more comical reason, and not necessarily something that drives me – but it’s true!

It’s full of the good stuff. Probably the most important reason. Antibodies, nutrients, fat. There’s a reason T is now 14Ib9oz at only 10 weeks old.

Bonding. It’s something you can’t replicate elsewhere. Whether it’s the way T grabs my thumb as he feeds, or the way he doesn’t stop looking at me – it’s our special time. Just us.

Because I want to.

Why do you breastfeed? Join in with the hashtag #whyibreastfeed.

K

The Good Baby

“Is T a good baby?”

I’ve never really understood this term. How can babies be “bad”?

Is there an assumption that because they wake up at night or cry during the day that they’re bad? I don’t think so. I can’t imagine that what they’re doing; whether it’s crying at 4am, is intentional because they’re naughty.

Babies cry. Babies wake up at night. Babies sometimes require feeds throughout the night. I doesn’t make them bad babies – it means they’re growing babies, and that’s GOOD! Heaven forbid T ignores his soggy nappy in fear of being thought of as a “bad” baby.

Last week I was asked twice in one day whether T was a “good” baby, and it really annoyed me. Within a space of a few seconds I had to decide how to answer. Do I say yes and submit to a term I hate in fear of them thinking that T is a “bad” baby? Do I say no and hate myself for calling T a bad baby just because he wakes in the night and because of this, apparently classes as being a bad baby? Or do I stand up against the term and say that, actually, T isn’t a bad or good baby – he’s just a developing baby.

In the end I didn’t answer and just said that he works hard at just being a baby, and that I couldn’t be prouder. T is an awesome baby regardless of whether he cries at night or not. Sure, he has good days where he’s happy for me leave him or put him down, other days, not so much – but that’s fine because that’s him having a bad day, not because he’s a bad baby. They don’t exist.

 

Deciding whether to be bad today… yeah right.

 

The Breastfeeding Chronicles – Feeding On The Go

It’s hard enough learning how to breastfeed in the first few weeks without the thought of having to then do it outside.

At home you have the comfort of being able to whip your boob out without wandering eyes. You don’t have to worry about what clothes to wear, where to sit, or even about putting it away after feeding.

So when S suggested going out within the first week, my first thoughts were feeding T. Would the place be breastfeeding friendly? Would I have to go outside? What would people say? I certainly wasn’t resorting to sitting in the toilet but at the same time this was completely alien to me.

At first I was nervous. Would I be skilled enough to whip it out without people noticing? What should I wear? Would T feed outside comfortably? Turns out it was easier than I realised. We still took an emergency bottle of formula, but we didn’t need it.

The first time I did it I was in a mothercare feeding room so not too daunting, but it was still an experience doing it in front of other women as well as doing it without the comforts of my cushions and pregnancy pillow. It took me a while to get comfortable, but in no time T was latched and I was sat chatting to three other ladies who were also feeding their babies. It was actually really enjoyable.

The next time I did it I was in a country pub, sat outside. This one was a little more trickier. Although I had a nursing top on, I still had to manage unhooking my nursing bra and being discreet at the same time. Thankfully, the table we were sat at was in the perfect position and I was well hidden, so well hidden in fact that the waitress didn’t notice I was feeding when she came to clear our plates.

I’ve since fed T a few times now whilst out and about. I’ve fed T in parks and cafés, as well as on a dog walk. I still sometimes prefer to feed him in the backseat of my car before we start our day out if there is literally nowhere to go but it’s not the worst place in the world.


Saying that, I do still get frustrated with myself at times when I don’t find the courage or feel comfortable feeding outside, I guess I worry there’ll be confrontation. But as someone recently said; “…every feed completed outside is a step forward. Take baby steps” and they’re right. I need to stop beating myself up.

Here are a few of my tips to feeding outside:-

Wear a suitable top. I’ve done it already, I’ve gone out in my favourite t-shirt (I haven’t worn it in 9 months!) and realised I need to feed T. Out comes the gut and spare tyre. It’s not so bad in the car or a feeding room but it’s not something I want to put on show in a café or restaurant. Try and wear a button down shirt or nursing top. A zip up hoody had also come in handy as I can zip myself up with T inside once I remove my arm from the sleeve.

Pack an extra muslin. If you’re still not confident or quick enough to whip it out before anyone notices then an extra muslin is a good way to hide everything discreetly but also send a message as to what you’re doing. A separate one to one you probably already have will mean you don’t have to have a milky/messy one sat near your nostrils.

Expect people to stare. It shouldn’t be the case but it still is, unfortunately. As long as people don’t say anything you’ll soon get used to people giving you a quick double take as you start feeding. With this in mind, it’ll help if you perhaps don’t choose to feed in somewhere like The Ritz – we all know that’ll definitely attract attention.

Power in numbers. Leading on from the above, feeding in numbers means people are unlikely to say anything anyway. You’ll also feel more confident if you’re just starting out as you can see how other mums feed.

Don’t rush. You take your time with your meal, why shouldn’t your baby? If you know a feed is due, find somewhere you’ll both be happy to stay for a while. Likewise, if you find yourself in a café make sure you take your time drinking that coffee otherwise it’ll cost you a fortune!

Get comfy. Similar to the above, find somewhere with comfy seating or a view – you’re going to be there a while.  Likewise, if you’re not sure about the weather don’t plonk yourself outside!

Accessorise. No. I don’t mean putting a boob shaped hat on your baby, I’m talking about your accessories. Make the most out of the time in between feeds and whack that nipple cream on. Take extra nipple pads with you or even a spare top or bra in case spillage happens from you or baby.

Remember:- Breastfeeding is not indecent or illegal.

What are your breastfeeding-on-the-go tips?

K

A Letter to Sharon and Kate 2 Years Ago

Hello Ladies, Kate here!

I thought I’d write to you as a loving hand from the future.

Right about now you’re feeling pretty lousy. You’ve just had your 8th BFN. You’re feeling like this whole TTC malarkey is never going to work for you. You feel like you’re never going to have your family.

But I’ll let you in on a little secret. A secret we would have liked to have known ourselves 2 years ago, if not longer…

You will have your family.

I will give birth to a beautiful son and he will be your anything and everything.

You will love him to the moon and stars, and there will be nothing you won’t do for him.

There will be sleepless nights, cold tea,  and hurried meal times; but you won’t care. Not really. You will sigh and maybe complain slightly, but you won’t care. You have your baby.

You have your family.

We’re so happy right now, life couldn’t be better. We can’t wait for you to feel this, to see your son, to see your family as a whole.

You. Will. Love. It. It really is everything you’re currently dreaming of and more.

Stay strong, ladies. It’ll be worth it in the end.

Kate

Mum IS The Word

Women have been having babies for thousands of years. It’s a fact. But when you have your baby, you naturally feel like everything you’re feeling is new and different, and that no other woman could have felt like this, or done that. You think it’s just you.

You worry about your baby and whether you’re doing everything right, and you doubt yourself constantly. You worry it’s just you.

But it’s not.

When a mum asks me the question “How is everything?” or “How are you?”, I often verbally spew my guts everywhere (I apologise if I’ve done this to you) – mainly because they’re the first human I’ve seen outside of my family and S! When chatting, I’m secretly hoping to see the nod of understanding and more often than not, I do see it. I soon then realise that what I’m feeling is completely normal. My worries… Normal. My anxieties… Normal.

Hearing stories from friends and family about what crazy stuff they got up to during the first few weeks of motherhood, as well as how they coped with being a new mum, is the best medicine at the moment. It feels great! I laugh, I cry, I understand. It makes me realise that others have felt the same.

I never thought I’d say this, but I’m now looking forward to regularly meeting with mums at my post-natal group every week. We may not have anything in common personally, but what we do have in common are our experiences and our babies.

If you’ve recently joined or will soon be joining the mum club I highly recommend speaking out as early as possible. You are certainly not alone and you will find that everyone has felt the same as you at least once during motherhood. Knowing that will feel great.

If you don’t have any post-natal groups around or other mums nearby, go online! We are so lucky to be living in an age where we can find someone to talk to any time of the day. Whether it’s one-to-one on Twitter, or a Facebook group, you will find the help you need.

So don’t go to Dr. Google – speak to another mum!

K