Let’s share some positive public breastfeeding stories

In the first few months of Talitha’s life, I was pretty nervous about breastfeeding in public. I’d even go as far as to say that I felt a bit panicked about it in the very beginning. I know I’m not alone in that.

Chats I’ve had with first-time pregnant mums have usually revolved around this worry of “too much” being seen and becoming a target for some form of harassment.

Every time I read about a woman being asked to move or leave because she is breastfeeding or being told something equally discriminatory, I feel weirded out and alarmed that this is still happening.

In this day and age when we should know better, people are still treating mothers and their children as second class citizens.

However, these stories also make me worry about women who already feel uncertain about breastfeeding in public. It paints the world in an unnecessarily hostile light.

I’m not saying that there aren’t ignorant people who will make breastfeeding mothers uncomfortable. I’m saying that they aren’t the only people that exist.

I also think you’ll probably be happier breastfeeding when you’re out and about if you don’t believe that every eye is disapprovingly on you.

So, I thought, why don’t we share some positive stories about breastfeeding in public? I’ll tell you mine and then you tell me yours? Maybe they’ve happened to you, someone you know or someone you’ve seen. I’ll start.

Positive stories about breastfeeding in public (2 of 2)

For one thing, I’ve never had anyone say anything disapproving to me in public about breastfeeding. Not one single time. Not even when I was pregnant and breastfeeding a toddler (though we didn’t often do that outside the house, admittedly).

I kept rehearsing my rights in the early days so I would be ready if someone ever told me to go use a toilet but it never happened. Actually, once someone did suggest a toilet but that was because I was panicking about finding a private place.

I’ve also had many women of my grandmothers’ generation take the time to approach me and compliment me on breastfeeding. The first time was when I was breastfeeding Talitha at a few days old in The Mall at Cribbs Causeway.

I’d somehow ended up on my own with her and found the nearest bench to breastfeed her (there’s a parents’ room but I didn’t know that then). Two elderly women came up to me to see Talitha. They both gushed, one of them saying: “It is so good to see you breastfeeding your baby.”

When Ophelia was two months old, I fed her in a ring sling on a bus. When she’d finished, I adjusted her back upright and got ready for our stop. Another older woman seated across from us exclaimed: “It is wonderful to see a woman breastfeeding!” These are just two instances but there have been many.

Positive feedback has also included getting a thumbs up from a woman pushing a pushchair past us, many, many warm smiles from strangers and lots of women of my mother’s generation telling me their own breastfeeding stories.

I’m sure there have been other occasions I’ll probably remember after publishing this post but I’ve shown you mine so…you show me yours. I’m hoping others will have good experiences to share.


44 Comments

  1. July 3, 2014 / 7:23 am

    Thanks for this – think its a really impt point – postive stories are def best. I’ve never had anyone comment on me feeding in public. Maybe it’s living in brighton but I’ve only experienced eyes of support or to be honest I was so much in my own world with the boy that I didn’t really notice anyone else. The only time I’ve felt uncomfortable is when friends have felt awkward when they’ve visited. It’s been interesting seeing their response to getting the boobs out. I also felt weird at a large Christian conference but I think that was more fear of some clenched boy from the past not knowing where to look. And the boy was going through the totally distracted expose my nipple at all opportunity phase.

    I tried the muslin over the baby approach for about 3 seconds until I realised it wouldn’t cover my giant boobs anyway – and he hated it. From then on I just got on with it and had no issues. And from chats with other boob feeding friends they’ve had very few issues. I also found doing it together in coffee shops was helpful in gaining confidence.

    I’ve explained it to my friends who were uncomfortable as it’s a bit like an eclipse – just don’t look at it and you’ll be fine πŸ™‚ of course if they want to gaze at my milk drunk cute boy munching away then they are free to but if they just can’t handle it there are ways to deal with it!

    The best comment was from a friend who wondered when the boys head would get bigger than my boob – I’ll leave you to guess who that was and yes you do know her! I think I can say that’s the case now!

    • July 15, 2014 / 10:39 pm

      I think I know who said that! Thanks for sharing your experiences, Kath!

  2. July 3, 2014 / 8:05 am

    I didn’t breastfeed, but if I had, I wouldn’t have given a shizz what other people think! I’m so sad when I read stories that others are embarrassed, or women should hide away.

    I’m glad to read a positive public breastfeeding story – this is what it should all be about!
    xx

  3. July 3, 2014 / 9:15 am

    I just read about a young male member of staff in Starbucks in America that was really supportive of a mum breastfeeding when another woman complained. A great example of someone caring and supporting a mum breastfeeding.
    mellissa williams recently posted..Hotter Shoes Blogging Event Cardiff

    • Kimberly
      September 3, 2019 / 3:48 pm

      I thought that that gentleman was sweet and compassionate toward that breastfeeding mother. I usually took up breastfeeding. my baby daughter in total privacy, then I wondered”why”. Breastfeeding is human nature, a perfectly beautiful way to not only feed your child, but to embrace the. joy of being a mother!

  4. July 3, 2014 / 11:06 am

    Thank you it’s great to hear positive stories for a change. I breastfed my girls and am a breast feeding counsellor. I love seeing women breastfeed in public.

    • July 15, 2014 / 10:40 pm

      I love seeing it too. I try not to look too creepy smiling at breastfeeding mums!

  5. July 3, 2014 / 11:19 am

    I didn’t bf Baby because I didn’t want to, it didn’t feel right for me, but I think it is terrible that these negative attitudes exist, as you say in this day and age x
    you baby me mummy recently posted..Gratitude List #4

    • July 15, 2014 / 10:41 pm

      There needs to be more positivity and free flow of information regardless of how women feed their babies. x

  6. July 3, 2014 / 11:39 am

    Brilliant post. 100% agree – we need to spread confidence via positive stories. It’s years since I BF anywhere but I never had any issues, and certainly never agreed to feed in a babychanging/toilet room!
    Kate Thompson recently posted..Too Much, Too Soon, Too Fast

    • July 15, 2014 / 10:42 pm

      It’s so sad that you felt that fear but you’re so not alone in that. It comes up in any antenatal group I’ve been party to.

  7. July 3, 2014 / 1:39 pm

    Never had a single negative comment. The only comments I did have were more along the lines of ‘you’re so lucky to be able to feed her yourself. I couldn’t’ or ‘I wish I’d tried harder’ or ‘I was so rubbish at breastfeeding’. Women beat themselves up SO MUCH it’s awful.
    Eleanor (thebristolparent) recently posted..Wall stickers for a child’s bedroom

  8. July 3, 2014 / 2:15 pm

    I think that as women we should support each other regardless of our parenting choices. I would never make any woman feel terrible about breast feeding in public.
    Jen aka The Mad House recently posted..June’s #SmallStuff

    • July 15, 2014 / 10:44 pm

      I agree, Jen. Our parenting choices come out of our personal histories and our own beliefs about what’s best for our family. It’s not exactly something anyone else can criticise!

    • July 15, 2014 / 10:44 pm

      Ah that’s lovely! I know! It’s such a bizarre thing to be bothered by.

  9. July 3, 2014 / 4:51 pm

    Circumstances made my first breastfeed in public happen on a packed commuter train – I’m firmly of the view that most people would rather risk a glimpse of boob than listen to a screaming baby and nobody even batted an eyelid (well they were all very busy reading their phones!)

    From there on it’s all plain sailing – I’ve nursed my 3 all over the place and I suspect that most of the time people don’t even realise what I’m up to

    The only place I’ve felt a bit uncertain about nursing has been at church but now Pope Francis said that mothers should nurse during a christening in the Vatican it feels entirely reasonable to consider it

    So far Littlest has been fed at South Stack lighthouse, on the beach, on a walk, in pubs, in coffee shops, in shops, at hospitals, on trains, on buses – anywhere we he and my boobs are and he gets hungry

    • July 15, 2014 / 10:45 pm

      I definitely think people would rather you did just about anything that prevented them from having to listen to a screaming baby in close quarters!

  10. July 3, 2014 / 7:00 pm

    Same as Eleanor actually I’ve never had any negatively (apart from maybe the M&S lady fitting me for a nursing bra at 18m who asked when I was going to stop and said she watched a program about ‘weirdos’ feeing their 4 year olds) but I’ve had a lot of people sharing their stories on how they couldn’t breastfeed and how they wanted to etc…which is sad and it often makes/made me feel uncomfortable too. On the whole though Bristol is pretty awesome for breastfeeding supportiveness! xx
    Fritha recently posted..Back to (shark) school

    • July 15, 2014 / 10:47 pm

      Ah yes, I have had people say impolite things about longer term breastfeeding! But they usually get embarrassed or back track when I explain that I don’t share their view!

  11. July 3, 2014 / 7:36 pm

    I never had any comments at all when I breastfed my son, good job really as my inner Mancunian would have come out. As he got older I used to leg it back to my car though – he didn’t want to give up. It’s great to hear of positive stories. In fact I’ve just remembered that I did have a negative comment and it was from a health visitor of all people who thought I should stop as my son was a massive baby – off the scale! My milk she said was making him fat. I ignored her. πŸ™‚
    sam@happyhomebird recently posted..Allotment Party

    • July 15, 2014 / 10:48 pm

      Breastfeeding seems to get the blame both ways – if they’re not gaining “enough” or if they’re gaining “too much”!

  12. July 4, 2014 / 1:01 pm

    It’s always great to hear of positive stories and it’s important to keep telling them so women can keep feeling comfortable and confident in breast feeding.

  13. July 4, 2014 / 6:41 pm

    Sharing these positive stories is so important for women who are concerned about the public reaction. It’s important to keep talking about it and normalising Breastfeeding in our culture to promote it as a positive choice for mum and baby
    Zena’s Suitcase recently posted..Bringing Home The Baby: A Toddler’s View

  14. July 4, 2014 / 7:15 pm

    I never had any negative comments thankfully, a few old ladies smiling at me and saying how nice it was to see!

    • July 15, 2014 / 10:50 pm

      I love how vocal old ladies are. I hope I take the opportunity to say nice things like that when I’m that age.

    • July 15, 2014 / 10:50 pm

      It seems that if it’s positive it’s just not deemed newsworthy.

  15. July 5, 2014 / 11:57 am

    It is good to hear positive stories – the more breastfeeding is accepted and seen as normal – the more people will feel confident either breastfeeding or supporting someone who is breastfeeding. I have only happy memories of breastfeeding my children and I would do it all over again if I could πŸ™‚

  16. July 5, 2014 / 9:51 pm

    Such a nice change to read some positive stories for once. Breastfeeding is so natural and it infuriates me that there is such a lack of support sometimes x
    Bex Smith recently posted..Peppa Pig is 10 years old!

  17. July 12, 2014 / 11:33 pm

    It’s really strange even though I fed Mr A until he was a toddler I never really felt that comfortable ever – this was after a few awkward experiences and the fact that no one in my family had young children and when they did they didn’t breastfeed so their understanding was limited, also the area we live in has a very low uptake of breastfeeding mothers so it was less common to see in public places although with our next one I am going to be more confident – maybe it’s because I feel more confident as a parent or that I am a little bit older and frankly don’t give a monkeys anymore πŸ™‚ We should all be able to feel comfortable doing it in public πŸ™‚

    Laura x
    Laura recently posted..5 Interior Design Ideas That Your Kids Would Love

    • July 15, 2014 / 10:54 pm

      I think who you’re surrounded by can have a massive impact on how you feel about your choices. I felt entirely comfortable with my choice to breastfeed Talitha to two years. I was surrounded by so many mothers doing the same. But as others stopped and I knew fewer who were breastfeeding that long, let alone doing it while pregnant (!) I have to admit that I felt less comfortable. That’s where an online community became quite handy!

  18. Carla
    May 27, 2015 / 9:45 am

    Lovely article Adele πŸ™‚ and I absolutely agree with you, the media only talks about negative experiences.
    Recently I have finished breastfeeding my second daughter and looking back to my adventures with both of my girls, I could say they were pleasant experiences and I never feel unconformable feeding them in public places. I was always well prepared with my super large muslin or handmade breastfeeding cover πŸ™‚ At several occasions I had old ladies coming and saying that it was so nice to see me feeding my little one in public and others saying that it was a great idea the breastfeeding cover as they did not have this sort of thing when they had their children. I also was so thankful that certain places had nice facilities for feeding too.

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