Just recently, MyVoucherCodes.co.uk conducted a survey about breastfeeding in public and the results were picked up by the Daily Mail, who ran an article about it yesterday. I was actually surprised to read, considering all of the negative stories that we hear about breastfeeding, that almost 70% of British people feel that women should be able to breastfeed anywhere in public, even bars and restaurants. It’s really heartening to read that it’s now becoming a social norm rather than some sort of stigmatised or shameful act and despite not being a breastfeeder myself, I’m thrilled that my best friend or family or daughters will be able to nourish their babies whenever they need to.
Last week, a story went viral about a family who changed a dirty nappy at the table of a restaurant, rather than retreating to a bathroom and whilst I was absolutely disgusted at the thought of being subjected to this as a neighbouring diner, it did make me think of all the times that breastfeeding mothers have been told that they should be sitting in a toilet to feed. How is feeding your child in a place intended for ablutions any less disgusting than changing a nappy next someone who’s eating? Poop and food don’t mix, from either side of the spectrum and I hope people think about this a little more before asking breastfeeding mothers to make this sacrifice.
I can’t help but wonder if the current slew of celebrity breastfeeding selfies are helping to normalise the process. In the past few months, we’ve seen supermodels and actresses taking breastfeeding selfies and tweeting or Instagramming them, showing that breastfeeding is a normal, beautiful act and that even on women who are lusted after by millions, breasts needn’t be sexualised permanently.
As a bottle-feeder by choice, I’ve been frowned upon and lambasted by heathcare professionsals and other mothers, and I’ve been known to use the phrase ‘breastapo’ on more than one occasion, but I think there’s a huge difference between women who proudly feed and aren’t afraid to be part of the movement which is normalising public feeding and people who feel the need to bully bottle-feeders for their choices. Whilst breastfeeding isn’t for me (and it’s a choice over which I agonised and have many deep-seated reasons for making), I can see the true beauty of breastfeeding and the closeness shared between mother and baby.
One of my favourite tweeters is Lucy Aitken-Read. You might know of her because of the no-poo revolution which has been taking off (and has also been featured in the national press), but she’s a prolific blogger at Lulastic and the hippyshake and Wonderthrift and often shares the most incredible shots of herself feeding her daughters. She shows that you don’t have to be a celebrity with a million stylists and hairdressers to show the beauty of breastfeeding, and in fact she looks MORE beautiful for the ease and naturalness which exudes from her shots.
So, where do you stand on the debate? Are you happy to see women feeding in public or do you think it’s something which should be kept behind closed doors? Are you a breastfeeder and if so, do you feed happily in public and have you ever received criticism for doing so? I’d love to hear some first hand experiences from my readers, so do leave me a comment below.