This post is a huge thank you to my mister. He’s probably the biggest supporter of breastfeeding that I know…and I also know that without him, my two journeys so far would have turned out very differently indeed.
Today for the Keep Britain Breastfeeding Scavenger Hunt 2014, we’re talking about the importance of breastfeeding support. Due to the way our culture has evolved, breastfeeding has become a very private affair for us mommas. When I began to breastfeed I was somehow under the impression that it was something I should be doing behind closed doors, with my baby secreted under a blanket, and most definitely away from the public’s eye. Because, you know, it’s lewd behaviour to have your nipple in your baby’s mouth for the purposes of keeping them alive, but it’s about £3.95 if you want to buy a magazine with pictures of ladies tweaking their oiled up nipples with no purpose but for the lonely reader’s pleasure.
Realising that I wasn’t the most coordinated when I fed my baby due to my breasts being quite enormous, and my baby not really latching well and tending to come off my nipple at any random moment, I was terrified when I had to leave the house with my him; what if he needed to feed? What would I do? I remember finding the mothers’ room at a very large department store when I was out with my mum and I was delighted to find solace whilst I clumsily managed to feed Jensen and breathe again because afterwards we were on our way home.
Yet when I think back, I’m disgusted. Inside this “facility” were rows of sinks with changing areas, which was lovely, spacious and very convenient…and then at the back of the room, it split into two with signs for breastfeeding and bottle feeding mothers…segregating us, because somehow we were different kinds of mothers. I’m not sure whether the store were aware that most women have nipples and know what they look like, or what they are primarily for.
Each area was a small, suffocating, hospital waiting room. Hard, plastic school-like chairs arm to arm around the perimeter of the room, and that was it. It wasn’t built for the comfort of feeding and relaxing with your baby. It only served to hide breastfeeding from the public eye, and bottle feeding, which I found even more peculiar given that there was a cafe outside the room and large comfortable chairs to relax in. However, at the time that room was exactly what I thought I needed.
A few weeks later, whilst out dining with my husband’s family for a celebration at a local carvery, and out of fear of offending anyone, I excused myself when Jensen became hungry and left to feed my baby perched on a public toilet seat with more than just the stench of faeces around us, jumping every time the toilet door opened as I worried someone would need to use the toilet. The possibility of someone I had never met and probably never would again potentially seeing a nipple and saying something to me was apparently much worse than my baby eating surrounded by bacteria, germs and filth. I sobbed at home over what I’d done, and it still hurts that I ever did.
However, no one questioned it. It was okay for me to be scared, fine for me to feed in the toilet.
At some point I snapped. I don’t remember when it was or how it came about, but suddenly I became incensed over my own behaviour and so did my husband. He wasn’t mad at me, because he could see what was happening to me, but furious at the way I felt. From then onwards there was no hiding, no covering…but it was hard because I was a terribly clumsy learner and had no idea about clothing, either.
I had no belly bands I could wear under my clothing to keep my back and stomach warm and covered whilst I lifted my top to feed Jensen, and no nursing tops either. But half nude or not, having my husband sat next to me whilst I learned to get to grips with things outside of the home and away from the sofa took all of the panic out of the art. No one said anything, wherever we were. And so I learned. And I grew as a momma.
From Lyoto onwards, I had no issues with feeding anywhere at all, and with my growing confidence I learned to master the art of even being able to walk and feed. Yet it’s all thanks to my husband’s support that I can do this. It’s natural, it should be normal in our society. More mommas need to be secure, and, more importantly, believe those two statements. Our baby’s health, legally protected by statute, is worth more than any disapproving glance from a stranger…and if you get more than a frown, call me…. I’ll send my boys over.
Today we’re also giving you the chance to win a Theraline pillow for your little one, because alongside the crucial emotional support that we need, I also want to mention physical support today. Then I’m going to go and lie down. I’m 39 weeks pregnant and I feel like a fire breathing dragon today with a baby who is trying to make a break for it through my uterus like something out of Alien.
If it hadn’t been for nursing pillows like these from Theraline (this one is fluffy!), I would be like the hunchback of Notre Dame by now. I’m a cross legged breastfeeder and naturally leaned forward to feed my baby until I discovered breastfeeding pillows! Having a pillow meant that I could sit with a straight back and it took the aches and pains out of feeding for me completely. You can enter to win a pillow of your own today! Good luck!