Family • Wellbeing • Adventure

Monday, 24 July 2017

Experiences Breastfeeding in Public

Next month sees world breastfeeding week, a week to celebrate and educate the magic of breastfeeding. It's been 7 months since I last breastfed Henry and my goodness I miss it. If I had my way I would have breastfed until he was two, but he made the decision for us both (which, really was the best way to do it).

Breastfeeding was truly something I treasured second time round. My experience with Darcie was pretty dire and she was never able to latch properly without the aid of a nipple shield and it all came to an end at 6 weeks. Still, six weeks is pretty incredible and for saying what a shit time I went through, that really was an achievement. Second time round was a breeze - literally a dream. Bar the cracked nipple in the first two weeks.

Second time round I was in a much better headspace. My birth with Henry was beautiful which I think set us up well for feeding. I felt I had a lot more support second time round and I educated myself a lot in the lead up to his birth. My determination to succeed was pretty high - getting through a cracked nipple (the most intense pain ever!) is proof of this.

One thing that I never worried about was breastfeeding in public. I felt so proud of myself for being able to feed my baby that I never felt ashamed of doing so in public. I never used a cover or a muslin cloth to shield us, I always felt confident feeding whenever and where ever!

Some of my most memorable times include feeding him whilst in a queue for a ride in Lego Land! He was getting whiny and wanted to feed, there was nowhere to sit either. So I laid him in my arms, whilst standing and discreetly started to feed. I was surrounded by people and I received lots of heart warming smiles. Perhaps they were just grateful he stopped crying!

Another moment that sticks out in my mind was one morning when I took both kiddies out for a walk and then to breakfast. We stopped off at a Cafe I'd never visited before, it was full of older people and I was a little apprehensive taking my two in. But we needed to eat. So we headed in, I ordered and then one cue Henry started to cry. He was hungry, so I obliged and let him feed discreetly. The food arrived and he was still going. The waitress, who was very young just smiled as asked if I wanted her to help my daughter with her food - it was a huge sigh of relief because I knew my hungry daughter was going to kick off too if she didn't get her damn pancakes! She cut up her food, then once he was asleep made him a little quiet area for him to sleep. She was an angel to me that day as I had been stressing all morning.

I asked other mums to share their breastfeeding experiences, whether positive or negative...

"The first time I breastfed in public was in a Soft Play Centre. I was really nervous, Freddie was around 3-4 weeks old, I think? and there were quite a few other parents around. I just did it and from then onwards, I felt fine feeding in public. I think if I backed out that day and went somewhere private, I'd never feel comfortable feeding in public. I did use a breastfeeding cover or a muslin to cover but that was because I was nervous in case he unlatched and I'd show my boob! I did have one bad experience where I was at a restaurant waiting for my food. An older couple came to sit near us and when they saw me breastfeeding, they looked, said some words between each other and walked off. At first, I thought they decided to go to a different place, but not long after I saw they had gone to sit on another table. But it didn't stop me feeding in public." - Beth at Life As Mum.

"I went to a local garden centre with the in-laws when my son was around a month old. For some reason, I've never felt all that comfortable feeding with them there and so I found somewhere else to sit while I ate my lunch. I was fussing with my tops trying to be discreet and on the table next to me were two women with older children, the first turned to me and said 'you look nervous, don't be! You're doing an amazing thing, I'll shield you so you can latch baby and the second cut up my meal for me so I could eat while he fed!!  I always hear negative responses to breastfeeding but I really think those instances are rare. There really are so lovely people out there who want to support you." Emily at A Slummy Mummy.

"When my first daughter was born nearly 15 years ago, I was so lucky to find a really friendly waitress in our local coffee shop. She'd see me coming in with my daughter in a sling, grab a glass of water and an extra cushion and head over to my table to take my order, even though it wasn't table service. The one time someone started huffing at me for breastfeeding in the cafe, she told them it was rude to stare and to leave if they didn't like it. Her kindness at the start of my breastfeeding journey has remained with me ever since and was such a confidence boost in the early days - I ended up nursing for nearly 6 years in total over 2 children." Arabella at Exeter Baby Activities.

"I once was breastfeeding in an art gallery and a man came in and was looking at a painting above where i was sitting and poor bloke had a shock when he realised what I was doing and spent ages insisting he wasn't looking at me. I didn't think he was but he obviously thought I might think that!" Jen at Just Average Jen.

As you can see, there really is nothing to be worried about when feeding in public. Yes, the first few times can be a little daunting but if you're looking for private spots to feed lots of places are happy to oblige. One thing to definitely remember is that you shouldn't ever be made to feel uncomfortable about breastfeeding in public. It is illegal for anyone to ask a breastfeeding woman to leave a public place, such as a cafe, shop or public transport.

Tips for successful breastfeeding

Remember I'm no pro, but here are a few things that I found truly helpful when feeding.

- Education, its a truly powerful thing. How long did you spend preparing for the birth of your child? Or time selecting the right pushchair? Did you give that same amount of time to how you will choose to feed your baby? First time round I knew I wanted to feed, but I never anticipated just how hard it would be. I wished I'd gone to groups run by the NHS, searched tutorials or even just sought advice from other mums. There really is a wealth of knowledge out there and its there for the taking.

- Get comfortable. If you're struggling to be comfortable whilst feeding try alternative positions. With Darcie, the rugby position was pretty much the only position she would feed, whereas Henry preferred the cradle hold during the day and the side-laying position at night. If the attachment feels uncomfortable it could mean that they're not latched correctly, which can lead to issues such as a cracked nipple as I experienced.

- Lansinoh. If you experience discomfort around the nipple, which is perfectly common whilst your nipples are adjusting to breastfeeding, then make sure you have Lansinoh cream at your disposal. That cream is an ESSENTIAL for all new mamas.

-Keep supply up. The best way to keep your supply up to your babies needs is to feed on demand and yes, that means cluster feeding. Cluster feeding is when a baby feeds at a more condensed period of time. Breastfeeding and consumption of breastmilk are instinctual. When babies cluster feed, they are sometimes preparing for longer stretches of sleep (though this is not always the case!) or they may be catching up if they didn’t eat as much during the day. It can also be you babies way of increasing your own supply (clever hey?). There are certain foods you can eat to also help to boost supply. Oats are an aged old favourite and something I used to swear by, especially when I was building up my freezer stash. We all know the benefits of taking supplements when pregnant, but mums favourite Pregnacare also sells supplements for the breastfeeding period. Pregnacare Breast-feeding is carefully formulated by experts, with essential vitamins, minerals and Omega-3 DHA, to help support all-round health and vitality including iron which contributes to normal energy release.

- Ask for help. Be it because you're exhausted because you were up all night feeding and need help around the house or a couple of hours shut eye or if you're really struggling with feeding. Ask for help. Don't be afraid, worry you're less of a mum because you need help - it's perfectly normal and certainly does not make you a crap mum. Seek help from your midwife and health visitor. 

-It's ok to turn to formula. I bet you didn't see that one coming? I'm a total advocate of breastfeeding and I will support anyone who is determined to make breastfeeding work. But I've also been there when your body (and mind) seem to be failing you and you need to feed your baby. That is what it is there for and certainly don't feel guilty for making this step. Feed is always best.

I hope you've enjoyed these stories on breastfeeding in public and hope my tips may help new mamas. I've certainly missed writing about breastfeeding and it's making me realised how much my youngest has grown. He will be two in September. Gosh.

Mummy B xoxox

*Collaborative Post

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