Win an Emma-Jane nursing vest – And let’s talk breastfeeding in public

The first time I breastfed Talitha in public she was days old. We were at Cribbs Causeway, a large shopping centre in Bristol.

Somehow Talitha and I had got separated from both Laurence and my parents. I was on my own in Boots when she started crying in her pram. I felt as helpless as she seemed.

I awkwardly manoeuvred my way out of the store. Flustered, I didn’t think to find a feeding room. I just found a bench. Careful that no one saw anything I breastfed her.

Two elderly women came up to me to see the baby. One smiled and said: “It is wonderful to see you breastfeeding your baby.” This was not the negative public reaction I’d geared myself up for! A few moments later, a mother with a toddler and an older child walked by. She caught my eye and gave me a thumbs up.

I laughed. I’d been so scared about doing this, breastfeeding in public, that to receive this kind of feedback from strangers was reassuring and even thrilling.

Over time, I relaxed. I had friends who were confident enough not to be so discreet, which bolstered my own confidence. I realised that to allow Talitha to latch on to my breast consistently well, I needed to give her time and space, which at times meant a bit of exposure.

When my supply issues came to light, I became even less discreet. I compressed my breast and even occasionally took my SNS for an outing. The latter admittedly attracted A LOT of attention. I almost bought a nursing cover for this alone. Thankfully, I usually was so absorbed in what I was doing that I couldn’t get too caught up in what others were thinking.

Overall, my experiences of breastfeeding publicly have been affirmative (though I did attend a breastfeeding demonstration – pictured above – to support a woman for whom it was not so).

I have become conscious again of eyes on us now that Talitha is a toddler. Round about 18 months, I noticed some stares and deflected probing questions. I even considered restricting breastfeeding to our home. There may yet come a tune for that as she gets older and can understand more. I wouldn’t want her picking up on others’ negativity and, sadly, the longer we continue the more potential there is for this.

Right now, though, I don’t particularly feel the need to deny her when we’re out. I might distract her or ask her to wait if it’s not convenient but I am just as likely to succumb to her insistent request for “Moolk, moolk, moolky!”

In fact, I’d like her to grow up in a world where people approach mothers breastfeeding toddlers and older children to tell them what a wonderful job they’re doing. It may be unlikely but it’s not impossible.

I’ve written this post for this year’s Keep Britain Breastfeeding Scavenger Hunt, celebrating National Breastfeeding Awareness Week 2013. To gather points for a chance to win a grand prize of LOTS of breastfeeding-related products, leave a comment telling me a funny breastfeeding story or, if you’re not breastfeeding yet or are entering for someone else, tell me why you think women should breastfeed in public then, enter the Rafflecopter widget below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

You can gather more points by checking out some of the other bloggers participating in the hunt this week:

Mummy is a Gadget Geek
Me, the Man and the Baby
The Secret Life of Kate
Hex Mum
Breast for Babies

I am also offering in this post a chance to win an Emma-Jane 830 Deluxe Nursing Vest with BoobieMilk, organiser of the hunt and a lingerie company run by an experienced breastfeeding peer supporter. It’s a great solution for discreetly breastfeeding in public, if you want to be discreet.

No need to enter again. A winner will be chosen at random from the comments left on this post on Wednesday 3rd July 2013 and will be announced here and contacted on that day. Deadline for entries to win the nursing vest is 23.59 on Tuesday 2nd July. THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.The winner is Catherine Miller.

You can also find out more about the hunt here.

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  • I was very shy at breastfeeding in public, but i had to do it as I can’t leave my baby crying and didn’t wanted to stay stuck indoors. I had good response, people will not mind or not even notice, its just how you feel from inside, i was covering up with my scarf, just because i was self conscious not because anything wrong with it.

  • I was shy breastfeeding in public following an insensitive comment from my hubby about me over exposing myself. I think if It was now, I would tell him where too go!

  • I had a positive experience the first time I breastfed in public too which was really nice as it made me much more confident. I am still quite careful not to show anything though which if I’m honest does make things a bit more tricky as Jobey doesn’t really like me trying to cover him up! I’m okay when I’m with Matt or someone else but when it’s just me and Iyla I am a bit more paranoid about someone saying something. I think the thing that makes me feel worse is that where I live I don’t seen anyone every feeding in public! Where are the all?! it would be so much better if there were women doing it everywhere x
    Mum2BabyInsomniac recently posted..Why we NEED To Breastfeed Our Babies In Public

  • I feed everywhere and think its great that I can. I consider myself lucky that I’ve never had any negative response but sadly no positive responses either. We need to make breastfeeding in public as normal as bottle feeding in public.

  • I think that women should breastfeed in public so that it becomes the norm. Otherwise some mothers and babies are under virtual house arrest just for doing what nature intended.

  • when my daughter was about 6 months old I was attending a close family members funeral. She had been really good through the service, sitting with Grandma and Grandad as I did my reading up front, but by the time we were graveside she was definitely hungry…. I knew if anyone was going to be able to hear what was happening I’d have to feed her…..I apologised to the vicar and he said “the needs of the living far outweigh those of the deceased, you carry on”.

  • It’s so good to hear when people get positive comments feeding in public. I had my first outing when Amelia was about five days old and I took her to a carol service. I thought she would sleep through it, but she quite enjoyed the singing and joined in loudly demanding food. Was really struggling that first week and had been using shields which I was too nervous to use in church so it was also our first successful latch without a shield. Christmas luck I suppose. I felt a little bit relieved looking up at all the pictures of Mary and thinking, she would have breastfed, wouldn’t she? Cheered me up a lot.
    Like you, I am now much more self-conscious of feeding in public than I was. Amelia is now nineteen months and such a wriggler. There’s nothing discreet about her! Early on, I felt more comfortable outdoors on the grass or on a park bench than in a busy, noisy cafe, although, I think I was always surprised that people were so positive when they saw us.
    I wish more people would be brave and feed in public. The only negative stories with my friends have been young kids going “yuck!” Which is really sad. They should think of it as a normal and wonderful part of life.
    Love your blog. X

  • I’m lacking in funny stories, as unfortunately, or actually fortunately, by breastfeeding experiences have been quite mundane. I think NIP is a really powerful way to advocate for breastfeeding. The more girls and women that see breastfeeding as a normal part of the daily landscape, the more they’ll be willing to give it a go themselves.

  • Always encouraged to read your posts. And realise how thankful I should be for how easy BF was for me with the first two boys who were both hungry eaters and even expressed bottles were a no for them, it had to come from the source so when out there was no alternative. And to be honest because it seemed the most natural obvious thing to do and I was able to I just fed and never really thought how others felt. I was a nursing mum with a baby and didn’t see why that meant we needed to be sidelined in life. I did my best to be discreet but I was also nursing so accidental slips of tops happened and neither of my boys were willing to hide under covers either. No one else hides while they eat so they didn’t see the need either! Let’s see what happens with #3. What amuses me with is how my boys assoicate mummy being pregnant not simply with another baby but with me getting more milk even though they have both stopped nursing themselves. For them it is the most natural connection and I love it and hope it lasts so that they if they become dads themselves they will fully support BF.

  • It’s easier to nurse in public in a sling so you don’t have to stop what you’re doing and sit down. Also as they’re upright it can reduce reflux. Visit a local sling meet/library for advice.

  • I don’t have any funny stories as I’ve only breastfed in public once, yesterday. We’ve had problems with her latch but yesterday was the first time she latched on perfectly and stayed there till she’d had enough!

  • One of the first times i fed my son in public i ended up spraying milk all over costa in Cabot Circus as my milk supply was still all over the shop.

  • No funny stories as I stopped breastfeeding DS at 4 months as the inlaws said I was hogging the baby! This time, I’m doing whats best for me and baby and they can get stuffed!

  • No funny stories yet as I’m expecting twins any day. Although the first bit of advice I was given on tandem feeding still makes me laugh. My MW said that it will be fine – get one latched on and then get someone to pass you the second twin. Sounds wonderful – if only I had someone around all the time to pass one over when it’s convenient!

  • The funniest place I have ever breastfed is on a tractor ride! It was definitely the better alternative than having a screaming baby for those 20 minutes!

  • I fed my DD a few days ago in the waiting area of a garage whilst my car was being fixed, 3 mechanics where standing behind the counter right in front of me and I don’t think any of them even noticed! It was the most uncomfortable place I have fed so far

  • I must admit that around 20 months I stopped nursing Ameli in public as much. I just started to feel the stares and feel uncomfortable with it. A little sad, actually.

    My funny story wasn’t funny at the time, but one day I had Ameli in the mei tai, and was rushing around London going to lawyer’s offices and all sorts. About an hour after her last feed, a woman stopped me in the post office to tell me my breast was still sticking out the side of the sling!!! Earth, swallow me now. I still get embarrassed thinking about it!
    Luschka recently posted..Tips On Expressing Breast Milk

  • no funny stories but lots of nice times when people have given me big smiles when they have seen me feeding baby.

  • I can’t think of a funny breastfeeding story although I’m sure we’ve had plenty of moments but my memory is rubbish. What I find tricky about breastfeeding in public now my son is older is that he likes to hold the other nipple while feeding so its a fight to stop him exposing me completely. He just finds it amusing the more I resist.

  • I don’t have any funny stories yet, but I keep answering the door without covering myself up properly afterwards. The postman has had a few shocks.

  • My funniest moment was squirting baby in the face and not being able to stop it form laughing so hard! Bless him.

  • No funny stories I can think of, my son usually waved the muslins around whilst feeding, which attracted lots of attention. I’ve opened the front door on many occasion with a baby attached, including to the local councillor who was calling to see if we were happy with everything in the area.

  • don’t have a funny story, but never had any negative or positive comments, we just get on with it. If someone objected I’d prob ask if they’d prefer a screaming baby!

Further reading

Showing up as myself

[image description: Adele and her youngest child sit in the greenhouse, looking at the camera] You may have noticed that I’ve changed this website’s name and URL to my own: Adele Jarrett-Kerr. When I started this blog nine years ago, it...