Home » News » Article

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Breastfeeding out and about

Being out and about with my first baby was nerve racking. He had never taken to any kind of feeding schedule so there was no way of knowing he was hungry until he started to cry. A lot. Very loudly. This evoked a physical response in me. I would begin to heat up, my breathing would get shallow, I'd sweat, then leak. I would get close to a panic attack. Nothing mattered except putting my baby to the breast straight away. Unfortunately, I hadn't discovered slings at this point and was still mostly struggling along with an empty stroller in one hand, carrying a rooting, distressed infant in the other.

He was about three weeks old when it happened in the city. It was evening time and all the coffee shops on the street I was on were closed. It was downtown where my bus was due to leave from . I looked around. There was a pub. I could hear a soccer commentary through the door and then a loud cheer. I dismissed it.  Baby's cries rose. There was a monument with steps. I sat down on the steps. I opened my jacket and latched my baby on. Prolactin - the mothering hormone, rushed through me, panic subsided, a sense of calm came over me. Baby looked up at me lovingly. Then there was a shout, of incredulity, 'Hey look, that woman is breastfeeding her baby!' A group of young teenage boys walked past, staring, their mouths gaping. I checked myself. No part of my breast was visible to them. Baby's head was partially inside my jacket. 'What's their problem?' I thought and simply said, 'So?' They giggled and continued on their way. An old man passed me. He tipped his hat at me, smiled and said, 'Fair play to you. You're doing the best thing'. I was lucky. I had seen my mother breastfeed my sisters and my aunt breastfeed my cousins. It hadn't occurred to me to be self conscious and I really didn't know what the big deal was. I was far more self conscious of what people would think of me if my baby was screaming. 

Now, five years and another baby later, I've breastfed everywhere. On buses, trains, airplanes and boats, in museums, restaurants, at the beach, at festivals, in a church, even on top of the Empire State Building. If I've been there, I've probably breastfed there, and thankfully, I've never really had a negative experience.  I've had old ladies lament to me that their grandchildren aren't breastfed and I've had young teenagers ask  curious questions like, 'Does it hurt?' and 'How do you know how much he's getting?' My youngest son lived in a sling till he was 5 months old and helped himself whenever he felt like it. I once had a man move the sling to see the baby and jump back like he'd been burned when he realized baby was nursing away. He apologized to me immediately and then even offered to get me a chair.


I know that I would not have had satisfying breastfeeding relationships with my children had I not the freedom and confidence to breastfeed anytime, anyplace, anywhere. It made motherhood that much more easy for me to not be tied to a schedule, to take my pre-crawling babies with me to weddings, funerals and even Board of Management meetings, comfortable in the knowledge that they would be happy to sit quietly on my lap or in a sling and nurse themselves to sleep. If they caused any distraction it was usually adults cooing at them. I got stuck in an airport for ten hours once with a four month old. I am so glad I didn't have to worry about any facilities other than a changing table. When my toddler cut his knee in the playground, I could comfort him right away. Mothering through breastfeeding made my life less stressful and breastfeeding in public was a vital part of this

In my experience, people are usually supportive of breastfeeding even if they are a little uncomfortable at first. It is not their fault that the art of breastfeeding has almost been bred out of our cultural knowledge and that it is, unfortunately, relatively unusual to see in the western world. Only breastfeeding mothers can change that.. The law and nature is on their side. Breastfeed  your child with pride. Be comfortable yourself and welcome others to sit with you. Answer questions matter-of-factly and without embarrassment. Laugh at well-meant jokes even if they are inappropriate. Chances are they are merely trying to mask their discomfort. If you encounter any hostile stares or comments just  feel the prolactin and smile, secure in the knowledge you are contributing to the health of the next generation and setting a wonderful example for other women.You are doing much, much more than feeding your baby. There is no need to cover that up.

Jennifer

Posted on 09/28 at 12:39 PM

Have a
Breastfeeding Question?

Search our existing FAQ’s about Breastfeeding

Support in your County

Contact your local breastfeeding support group

 

Articles

Top 10 breastfeeding tips

The birth of your baby is such an exciting time for new parents, after months of waiting you finally...Read more

National Breastfeeding Week 2014 Events

National Breastfeeding week runs from 1st-7th October Events are Family Friendly & expectant families welcome too. Please come along...Read more

National Breastfeeding Week 2014

National Breastfeeding Week runs from Wednesday, October 1st to Tuesday, October 7th 2014. This year's message is 'Every Breastfeed...Read more

Castleisland Breastfeeding Support Project

Well done to Castleisland Primary Care Centre Breastfeeding Support Project which was short-listed for the Irish Healthcare Centre Awards...Read more

La Leche League of Ireland Annual Conference

Internationally renowned breastfeeding advocate Dr. Jack Newman MD FRCPC offers new understanding on how controversies, myths and bottle feeding...Read more

Tell us what you think about breastfeeding.ie

We want to know what you think about breastfeeding.ie to help us make the site better. Please take a...Read more

National Breastfeeding Week 2013

National Breastfeeding week runs from 1st to 7th October. There are lots of events happening all round the country...Read more

National Breastfeeding Week 2013

Every Breastfeed Makes a Difference HSE National Breastfeeding Week runs from Tuesday 1st October to Monday 7th October.  This...Read more

World Breastfeeding week 2013

Breastfeeding Support:  Close To Mothers' is the theme of World Breastfeeding Week which runs from Thursday 1st August to...Read more

Breastfeeding in the Hot Weather

Your breastmilk continues to meet your baby's needs during hot weather. For babies up to 6 months old, breastmilk...Read more

Breastfeeding and work

It is important that mothers are supported to continue to breastfeed when they go back to work. The WHO,...Read more

2012 National Breastfeeding Week Events

National Breastfeeding week runs from 1st - 7th October, there are events being held around the country some of...Read more

2012 National Breastfeeding Week

Click here for events happening during National Breastfeeding Week Good Health Begins with Breastfeeding This national Breastfeeding Week the...Read more

2011 National Breastfeeding Week

First time mum Pamela Flood supports National Breastfeeding Week HSE National Breastfeeding Week was officially launched today (Friday, 30th...Read more

Breastfeeding out and about

Being out and about with my first baby was nerve racking. He had never taken to any kind of...Read more

   

Cookie Policy | Disclaimer and Privacy Policy | Contact Us | Link to this site
© 2007-2014 Health Service Executive
Health Promotion Logo