Australian model Megan Gale recently posted a selfie to Instagram breastfeeding her then baby boy River, now 3. In the caption she writes: ‘I find it so shocking that breastfeeding in public is still so frowned upon and considered inappropriate in many cases.’
The post, shared in honour of World Breastfeeding Week, reminded me of my own difficulties breastfeeding my premature baby and how doing so in public was doubly anxiety inducing – we won’t even go into the reflux! That was 7 years ago, and yet still there is a debate of when, where and how women feed their babies in public. As Gale, currently pregnant with her second child says, this is ‘the most normal, natural thing in the world and it needs to be fully accepted not frowned upon.’
There are few women relishing the opportunity to crack out a boob at a tiny table in a busy cafe on a Saturday morning. It is awkward enough, especially for new mums or those who may be struggling, to maintain eye contact with familiar company while a small human is clamped onto their breast, without the judgemental looks of strangers and in some cases direct requests to stop.
Like Gale, I thankfully was never asked to stop, though as she rightly puts it, ‘I’d like to see someone try and tell me not to 🙅🏽’ And woe betide anyone ask another mother to stop within earshot I say. On more than one occasion I have found myself marvelling at how well and happily a baby has been feeding away, to find my wistful eye caught across a coffee shop, in a moment potentially just as awkward for both mother and I. That anyone could sit in judgement and not awe of one human being feeding another is beyond me. Yes, it might not be what they bargained for as a side to their breakfast special, but selfishly, surely it’s preferable to listening to a hungry, crying baby and witnessing a mother in distress?
Gale also writes of an initial hesitation to share the image publicly, understandable in a digital age of ‘oversharing’ driving many of us to question where in fact to draw the line, ‘I actually wondered whether or not to post this photo as I had the thought “Is it a bit too full on for Instagram”? But I instantly realised it’s that exact train of thought that is encouraging the stigma. So here I am, in my most natural state, doing what comes naturally with my beautiful boy ❤️’ Well, in honour of #normalizebreastfeeding Megan, we salute you, and ladies, if anyone tells you to stop feeding your baby in public, you know where to find us!
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Love, Jem x