Sat in a busy crowd watching my football team play, I nestled my newborn baby into my chest, as she started to suckle, I tried covering her with my scarf but it was difficult trying to position her to breastfeed and position the cloth over her.
I never thought I would breastfeed and I certainly never thought I would be breastfeeding in public.
Learning to Breastfeed
But when I accidentally fell pregnant with my first child, I joined Facebook groups, watched Youtube videos and desperately tried to discover more about this alien thing of becoming a mother. The more I heard about breastfeeding the more I would research and I started to find other young mums like me who didn’t fit the “breastfeeding stereotype” feed.
So, I decided to give it a try, but I still vowed only to do it in private as I was so body conscious. As soon as my daughter was born, I started breastfeeding her. It felt weird but at the same time I was lucky because it just happened. I would lay on the hospital bed as she suckled and wriggled in all sorts of positions. When I got home, I was petrified of what to do as there are all sorts of opinions on parenting so you can be easily swayed in those early days of sleepless nights and cluster feeding. But I had an amazing breastfeeding peer supporter from Families and Babies charity who visited me at home to support me in feeding as well as being given a 24/7 text and phone line. Having someone who knew the facts rather than all the judgement I was receiving about breastfeeding gave me the confidence to make the choices that were right for my baby and I.
Birth choices – importance of choice
During pregnancy and birth, the medical professions don’t always make you feel like you have a choice. The peer supporter invited me to attend a bosom buddies baby group and I was surprised to see a huge range of mums feeding babies and children. This inspired me to keep on trying to breastfeed but also it gave me a boost to make my own decisions about my body. It was a challenge breastfeeding but I became accustomed to it and I started to feed in public as it was hard to always find a space to feed when my baby would feed on demand. I quickly lost my inhibitions because I was more in awe that my body could give my baby the nutrients she needed at any time.
Breastfeeding in Public
So much so, I breastfed anywhere and everywhere, including at football matches. Yes, I got stares, awful comments and even wolf whistles but having the support online and of my peer group helped me to focus on doing what was right for me not what society deemed the ‘norm.’ I gained that much confidence and knowledge of the benefits that I started making videos of my breastfeeding journey to give an honest account on being an ‘unlikely breastfeeder.’
Fast track a few years and onto my second child, I found myself tandem feeding two children and training to be a peer supporter with FAB charity who had supported me. I then joined up with an illustrator I had met at the first Bosom Buddies group to make a children’s book ‘Mama Milk’ on breastfeeding as I had never seen it depicted in children’s literature, let alone images of breastfeeding ‘older children’ or tandem feeding. As this week is World Breastfeeding Week, I want to continue to help normalise breastfeeding so that women feel like they have an informed choice rather than are forced to do what they think they should.
I got to the stage where I was breastfeeding uncovered at the football and whenever my daughters were hungry for “mama milk.” After all, people complain about wearing face masks these days, imagine being a baby or child trying to have your food under a full body mask?
When people ask that you ‘cover up’… it’s a woman’s choice
The hardest thing I discovered on my breastfeeding journey… was other people’s opinions about breastfeeding.