So today I read something that made me feel rage beyond belief and I just had to take to my blog to let off some steam, so apologies in advance! I’m usually a pretty laid back person and nothing really makes me that angry, but this was an article about some guy who’s Facebook status had gone viral and a woman in support of such status. He had written a lengthy post complaining about a woman “flopping” her boob out (wait for it) on a Saturday afternoon! (oh it gets worse!) In a family pub?!? The shock! The horror!?! Not only was this vulgar woman clearly being an exhibitionist by getting her chest out, she was also, heaven forbid, out in public!! And in a pub on a weekend?!?!
This idiot was not only slating the poor woman for feeding her child in the most natural way possible, but also went on to list, as if someone of importance or authority, the other places she should have gone instead of the pub and then finished by saying how her breast milk was probably “20% Pinot Grigio anyway”… now as a breastfeeding mother, I have many issues with this;
Number one – There is not one woman, that I’ve come across anyway, who breastfeeds in a way other than discreetly. It just doesn’t happen. Why do these people who complain assume that there is a correlation between breastfeeding and a desire for your breasts to be seen?! The only correlation, is breastfeeding and the desire to feed your child; unfortunately, the former goes hand in hand and it is a sacrifice breastfeeding mothers have to make for the good of their children.
Funnily enough, I do not enjoy getting my nipples out in public, at all; I do however, enjoy my child being well fed and after all, that is what my breasts have been designed to do. I also love how people find it so offensive to see the back of a babies head on its mothers chest, yet don’t find it offensive, at all, that on posters and billboards all over the country, women are shown in bikinis or in a national news paper that anyone has access to, on the third page in, completely topless. The woman in question I’m sure, was not sat with her boobs “flopped” out (have you ever truly seen anyone breastfeeding in public in this manner??) but perhaps instead, just didn’t feel she should have to give her baby it’s lunch in a dirty public toilet or with a cloth over its head – you try eating in either of these predicaments: it’s not nice, so why should we subject our precious babies to such?
Number two – the man who wrote this drivel, suggested that this woman should be spending her time at “a public green space” or “playground” with her baby. I agree to a certain extent here – a pub isn’t always the best place for a young child or baby.. But how many people on a sunny Saturday afternoon, enjoy popping to a beer garden with their friends and family, perhaps to have a wine after a long hard week of sitting behind a computer screen… perhaps just to have a soft drink and some food? Well, I’ll let you in on a massive secret here.. Mums enjoy eating food too! And after wiping shitty arses and snotty noses all week (who wins?) we also might feel like we have earned that glass of wine or gin and tonic; Shameful isn’t it?! And what’s more, is that perhaps after spending all week going from baby group, to playground, to soft play centres, maybe – just maybe, this poor mother, wanted to have a drink and talk to some adults for a change (and not about the colour of her babies poo or compare gurgles with Linda’s little one from toddler group…) Does that really make her a bad person? I can’t be alone in thinking that a man – particularly this man – does not have the qualifications to judge this situation in any way.
This Saturday was one of the hottest days so far and Fergus and I had braved it into town to buy some Mother’s Day gifts (yes I left it late, what with being busy at baby groups and playgrounds and soft play centres and Linda’s all week..) anyway, mid afternoon, we were peckish so strolled into a family pub by the river to enjoy the views, get some food and perhaps… a pint! No longer had we brought the push chair in, I see an older lady looking at me over her rather large glass of wine. I ignore her and looked at the menu while getting Joseph out of his pram. Now being fussed and woken up is not in a newborn baby’s top 5 favourite activities, so naturally, he began crying (queue more disapproving looks) and so I sat down and discreetly got my breast out to begin feeding him and therefore calm him down. If looks could kill, believe me, I wouldn’t be here to tell this tale, since this old hag who was happily enjoying her drink on a Saturday afternoon (probably after a long week of being a bitch) gave me the worst look ever. Looking back I wish I’d have told her where to go, but having had a week of not much sleep, I felt rather emotional and we left. This is what people don’t realise – I am a mother; I go to two baby groups a week and spend 80% of my days singing, dancing and entertaining my baby. But I am also a 26 year old woman, who after nearly a year of not drinking a drop, carrying a child, giving birth, sleepless nights and tiring days, also enjoys the occasional, small glass of wine on the weekend (any more than one and id be drunk, I’m that unused to drinking these days!!) so who is this guy – who was in the pub himself, to tell this young mother where she should spend her afternoon?
Number three – there is so much misinformation around breastfeeding it’s unreal. When I asked my midwife about having a glass of champagne on my birthday (that fell about a week after I’d given birth!) she explained that drinking within reason while breastfeeding is like “throwing a shot in a swimming pool” – for your baby to get any of the alcohol via your milk you’d literally have to be hammered and as I mentioned previously and I’m sure most mums will agree, anything more than a glass of wine is generally considered a wild night and extremely rare. It’s this kind of misinformation that puts people off breastfeeding in the first place – the belief that after the toils of pregnancy, you then have to worry further about your caffeine consumption or having brandy cream with your mince pie at Christmas, when in reality, if your looking after yourself and eating well on the whole, breastfeeding will always be better for your baby than formula.
That’s not to say I’m bashing women who don’t breastfeed; believe it or not, I’m not one of those women who LOVE doing it: I struggled SO much in the beginning what with cracked nipples and latching problems – Truth be told, during the first month in between crying over painful feeds and lying in bed with cabbage leaves over my sore nipples (an old wives tale I found actually worked!) I could have quit over and over – so I know how hard it can be and why people choose not to – add the social anxiety of public feeding on top of that and it’s a wonder anyone does it at all. Luckily enough, I was schooled heavily during antenatal classes of the benefits for my child, so did preserve and surely more of this should be celebrated and encouraged? Instead I see instance after instance of stigma, judgement and abuse. What’s more is that there was a woman actually supporting this mans ignorant rant within the article and nothing is sader than women slamming other women – if we can’t support each other as women through breast feeding then what hope is there?!
I don’t know the solution to this problem – all I know is that in 2017; a time where it’s okay to be transgender, okay to marry your same sex partner, okay to be a woman MP; we still can not come to terms with breastfeeding and normalise it the way we have so many other things that would have once been seen as taboo or different – and breastfeeding isn’t even a new or different thing, so why the lack of advancement??
As a new mother I know how hard it is just muddling by each day, not really knowing if what your doing is right, but I sure as hell know that nobody has the right to point out what we’re doing wrong – especially when that thing is better for our bank balance, our bodies and most importantly, our children.