Tuesday, 10 January 2012

A Woman's Right To Feed Her Child

So, I'm sat at home, dressed, showered, fed etc. generally ready to go out of the house yet I can't actually bring myself to leave. I feel overwhelmingly anxious & panicky & have done since this morning. All I need to do is go out & get some buttons yet it seems like an impossibility.

I haven't really left the house alone in quite some time, though I haven't expressly thought that I couldn't or didn't want to but I suppose that there must have been some part of me that ws stopping me because usually I'd be out of the house in a flash rather than sat around doing nothing.

I think that there are a lot of contributing factors. Firstly, I have very, very little money & spending any unnecessarily would be careless, so the thought of buses & maybe a coffee at a cafe if the baby becomes hungry is not really what I want to be spending my pennies on. Secondly, there is the thought of getting all the stuff together for the baby etc. is a bit daunting, though I have never found it to be so in the past. Thirdly, navigating a gigantic tank of a pram around shops which contain aisles that are smaller than said pram is just draining. There are all these things which I face every day I go out but then there was what happened this morning too.

I was on Twitter, as usual, & saw a news story about a woman from Scarborough who had been thrown out of a cafe for breastfeeding her four week old baby because of a complaint from another customer. This, frankly, outraged me & I soon got looking into women's right etc. & basically got on my high horse. I then decided to tune into BBC Radio York on which they were discussing this issue & I was astonished by the amount of people (mainly women too) who were against women breastfeeding in public, calling it things like "unsavoury" & saying that there is no need for women to "flaunt" their breasts in public in this day & age when it is "unnecessary" to feed a baby "that way". My view on public breastfeeding is that it is a woman's right to do so, plain & simple. Breasts have been sexualised in our society & that is wrong, or at least we should be equally aware of their real & fantastic purpose which is as a means to feed our children. They are essential for new life & if anyone should have a problem with a woman breastfeeding discretely then they seriously need to reconsider their mindset. But try as I might I couldn't quite shake the voices of these women, especially as there seemed to be quite a lot of them. I imagined myself sat in a cafe & I thought about how many of the other customers may disapprove of me feeding  my baby in the most natural &  healthy way possible & it upset me. A lot. It upset me so much that I am now feeling reluctant to go out unless it is absolutely necessary & I'm anxious about staying out too long in case the baby does need feeding.

This is utterly disgusting that I should be made to feel this way & ridiculous on my part for thinking that these people's opinions should matter, but currently, due to all the other factors causing my anxiety, I am not strong enough to walk out proud & be the kind of woman I would like to be.


  1. It is very hard not to be affected by the Parenting Police as I call them. You will never meet "society's" expectation of you as a woman or a mother. Sad but true so you have to dig deep on your own inner strength and yes I knew and still do know how hard that can be or you tap into people with half a brain like myself. If we aren't good enough (I have felt that way on another issue this week), at least we can be happily not good enough together. You are right, it is disgusting that you are made to feel this way. Be strong and go and kick some ass

  2. Im so sorry to hear that these small minded people have made you feel this way :( I can completely relate to you.....I am a huge supporter of breast feeding believing it to be the most natural thing in the world and find it preposterous that people especially women find it to be unsavoury!I breast fed my son and often felt uneasy about going out anxious of people's response. A lot of my friends hold the view that it's disgusting and it is hard to hear them describe it as so. Take care and hope you start to feel less anxious soon x

  3. I agree that people's attitude towards breastfeeding really does stink. I was in Debenhams the other day and there was a woman sat curled in the corner trying to discreetly feed her baby. I smiled at her. and she instantly apologised for breastfeeding! I told her she shouldn't apologise, it's the most natural thing in the world. It was such a shame that she felt she had to go into a smelly public toilet to feed her child. I couldn't imagine an adult being expected toeatin the toilets!

  4. I honestly believe that nature designed women with breasts on their bodies so they could breastfeed. That is their purpose. Breastfeeding (in my view) is an incredibly natural thing to do, and should be supported by society. I am so sorry that other people's attitudes have made you feel anxious about breast feeding in public. There are a number of places that have signed up to be 'breast feeding friendly', Asda's/Mothercare/Starbucks for one. There's lists on the internet if you google it. I always took a shawl with me, and with it wrapped around my shoulders I don't think you could even tell I was BFing. Perhaps your other half would come out with you sometime and do a reccy with you for discreet places in the event that you do get caught short. That way at least you may feel comfortable about going out the house.
    I hope you feel better about this soon.

  5. Im sure you would find that if one person objected then 20 others would stand up with you to shout them down...dont get caught up in one report or one view point, remember that this information is designed with an end result so they disregaurd the opinions that dont fit with the message they are being paid to represent

  6. I'm so sorry that you have been made to feel like this.

    I never got on well with breastfeeding and the idea of feeding in public horrified me (in as much as I was worried about doing it), but I always admire those women who can and do breastfeed when and where they like. I'm quite jealous of a women at our toddler group who feeds her daughter whilst walking around sorting out her toddler. To me it should be the most natural thing. I too have heard a couple of negative comments, but by older ladies (60's) who are possibly still living in a different generation.

    Try and be strong (not easy I know) and don't let these small minded people make you miss out on doing what you want to do.


  7. It is awful that in this day and age women are afraid to go out and breastfeed. It seems like we've done the wrong things and ruined the all time natural thing to do to loom after our babies.
    Be strong and go out, it is your body and your baby. If you feel happy enough to do it in public the don't let the others bring you down.
    Ifnyou go shopping, some places like mother care have a nice breastfeeding room if you wish to do it privately

  8. Thank you for all your thoughtful & lovely comments. You are all wonderful women & I'm so proud to have people like you reading the blog & your input is so valued by me. Really. Thank you.

    I've just read this again & I apologise for he bits that are a little nonsensical! It was a bad day - let me off! :)

    I have to tell you all that normally I have no problem whatsoever with going out & breast feeding wherever or whenever I need & I will be doing in future, but I suppose that I was just so shocked by the amount of people saying those nasty things that it completely got to me because I was feeling particularly vulnerable. It makes me so happy to have had the positive response from people whose opinions I know are valid & that's all at matters.

    You're all bloody awesome. Keep being brilliant!

  9. 18 years ago I was told that I should be 'doing that sort of thing in the toilets, not a cafe' (baby was tucked under a voluminous top so absolutely no flesh on show) - when I asked the man in question if he would eat his lunch in the toilet he didn't really have an answer! The anti-breast feeding bullies make me so mad and shouldn't be allowed to affect parents so badly - I read recently that it's illegal to prevent a nursing mother from feeding her baby in public. I would suggest a trip out with a friend to find a handily positioned coffee shop where you can chat to the staff and establish yourself there so that you have a bolt hole to go to when out shopping. It's not the way you should have to do it, but then you shouldn't be stuck at home either. Sorry if that sounds ranty, I feel quite militant about this! x


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