So the last few weeks theres has been a story in the news about a mother who is breastfeeding her 6 year old. Being quite involved in breastfeeding myself as a volunteer supporter at my local breastfeeding group people often ask to see what my opinion is. Being involved in breastfeeding, people often challenge my opinions as well or want to tell me their own story. I’m always open to listening to peoples own journeys, why they may or may not have chosen to breastfeed. The problems they may have come across. What puts people off and what horror stories they have heard before.
When the news story came out about a mum still feeding her 6 year old it put breastfeeding in the news once again. Once again people are talking about it. What I don’t understand though is why people are bothered? Why do people feel they need to express an opinion about how that particular mum chooses to bring up her children? How does it affect anyone else other than the mum and the child? Why judge something you no nothing about? Whether you have or haven’t breastfed in your life, someone else’s feeding relationship has nothing to do with you. From the comments I have read on various news threads it seems some people can be very nasty, saying things about psychological damage to the child. What concern is it of theirs? Why even comment on a story like that? What if the child reads all of those nasty comments when they are older, surely that would do more damage to the child.
I have read the story, I have read many comments in support of her and many that are not, and I have read what various ‘experts’ have to say about it. Some experts have real qualifications, some lets say are questionable! But what I think of the situation doesn’t need to be expressed, it has nothing to do with me. What that mum does has no affect on my life or that of my own children. So please just leave her be, let her get on with her own life the way that she feels is best for her and her own children. If she’s out and about feeding and you don’t like it look the other way, no ones making you look at her.
I’m not saying what I feel about it, it doesn’t matter if I agree or don’t agree, if I support her or not, it just doesn’t matter. It’s her child, her choice and her life.
Now let me begin by saying I only have experience of groups I have attended in my area, but I have attended a few. I now volunteer at my local one as a BfN helper.
When the boy was just a few weeks old I was encouraged to attend my local group by the peer supporter that came to see me at home. My first thoughts were no way! Not only am I new to the role of mummy but I’m only just getting the hang of this breastfeeding business (and I’m not too good at that either!) I really didn’t want to go to a room full of people who knew what they were doing to sit there and have them all stare at my breasts when he needed a feed.
I seemed to only be able to feed with a cushion under the boy and using one awkward hand to hold my breast while holding him on with the other. How on earth was I going to do that at a group? I didn’t want people looking at me and my crying baby.
They would all know each other and I would know no one. So a couple more weeks went by and I was getting cabin fever stuck inside, but I certainly wasn’t ready to venture further than round the corner. So I thought about it for a few days and made the decision to give it a try, just the once and if it was awful I’d never have to go back again.
So Tuesday came and I packed myself up knowing it started at 10:30 I tried to feed the boy before leaving, which resulted in me leaving the house late. I debated on the way there if I should just turn around and go home. But I’d not been out for days so carried on walking. It’s not far to the place where it is held – a 15 minute walk. I glanced at the time as I reached the gate, it was now 10:45. I was late. I hate being late to anything. I hurried into the centre and asked the receptionist where I should be going. She told me which room it was in. The doors were closed and the blinds down so I couldn’t even see inside, I pushed the door open nervously and glanced around the room. There were some mats down with blankets and toys, a few chairs laid out and a sofa as well. I gave a nervous smile without making eye contact and walked in. I had only been there about 30 seconds before a lady with a wide smile on her face approached me and introduced herself as a volunteer helper. She asked my name, cooed over the boy for a moment and encouraged me to take a seat. She sat and talked with me for quite a while and my nervousness had gone, without me even realising I was fine in the room full of other breastfeeding mums and I was fine. Thankfully the time went quickly and before I knew it 12 o’clock had arrived and the group was finishing. The boy had slept all the way through, I didn’t even have to feed him, I couldn’t believe it. I walked home and reflected on how grateful I was that the lady had come to talk to me. In my professional life I talk to new people all the time but in my new role of mummy I was a different person!
The next Tuesday seemed to come round quite quickly and I ventured out once more. This time we didn’t have time to feed before leaving the house so I knew I’d have to feed at group. The same helper was there and she greeted me by name. When it was time to feed I asked her about a cushion and as if by magic she produced one. She also sat with me during the feed and gave me some great pointers on position and attachment. I was able to feed for the first time in public! All be it amongst other breastfeeding mums, but it was to me a massive step forward. Perhaps I could leave the house after all? As time went on I kept going back to the group week by week and made some friends there who I am still friends with now. I loved it, it was more of a social group than a support group as I thought it had been before I went. You defiantly didn’t need to have a problem with feeding to attend the group. I went to the group for a year then as I went back to work I had to stop going. I cried at my last time there because I was going to miss everyone. My little baby had grown into a 1-year-old at that group and often when times were hard with being a mummy and I’d consider giving up breastfeeding I’d think about having to leave the group and realise that I didn’t want to so carried on feeding.
After going back to work I explored my options around becoming a helper and being able to give back to other mums the help and encouragement I had been given and found the BfN helper course. I expressed my interest but had to wait quite a while to get a place that suited me and the ability to attend all the course. Finally I was able to attend and I am so glad I did. The course was amazing, I learnt so much about myself and my own listening skills. I really enjoyed every aspect of it. The tutor was such an enthusiastic teacher that the positivity around helping other breastfeeding mummies really shined through for me. I couldn’t wait to get started. I now volunteer each week as a breastfeeding helper at the very group I nearly didn’t go to three and a half years ago. So if you’re reading this now and wondering if you should go along, please do. You’ll more than likely find that there are lots of like-minded mummies there who just like you were unsure at first. You may make some new friends. You may just end up loving it so much that you too want to be a helper too. I’ll be forever grateful to the helper who welcomed me into the group that first time and I hope as a helper myself that I too make people feel welcome, and help them to continue their own breastfeeding journey to fulfil their own feeding choices.
Have you been to a group, were your experiences similar or different? I’d love to know.
Breastfeeding out and about – aka IN PUBLIC! Shock horror! (Insert shocked hands up to face emoticon!) Why on earth would any women ever feel the need to get her breasts out in public unless she was trying to flaunt around a sports car and look sexy, or pose provocatively on page 3 of a certain newspaper – now that of course is perfectly ok.However sitting down, creating no fuss and attaching a hungry little helpless baby is an absolute no no. Ladies what do you think you’re doing!? Just stop it, stop it now! Nobody wants to see it, go and hide somewhere and feel ashamed that you are giving your baby milk tailor-made for their every need.
Now calm down and take a breath.
Feeding your baby in public for the first or thirty-fifth time can be scary, very very scary. But it needn’t be. In this post I want to share my experience of feeding in public and any hints or tips I can give you to make things a little easier and less scary.
First of all please know that the law is with you on this one. It is against the law to treat any women unfavourably because she is breastfeeding. In short you can feed anywhere you need to without being asked to stop, move , leave, or being made to feel uncomfortable. There is a really good information sheet produced by maternity action which can be found here. So armed with the right knowledge and backing of the law you may feel more confident about feeding your baby when you need to if you’re out.
But having the knowledge isn’t the same as actually feeding when out and about. When I was a new mum I was petrified of breastfeeding in public, I wasn’t so much worried about what people would say but what they might see. I didn’t want my breasts to be on show to the world. I hadn’t however back then worked out how I could feed discreetly. In my head I had imagined I’d have to sit in the middle of a coffee shop and literally ‘flap out a boob’ leaving myself half-naked, which simply isn’t true. Once you’ve overcome the first few hurdles of breastfeeding and mastered the position and attachment then you can start practising feeding discreetly. Just like learning to ski you can’t learn it all in one session so make sure you’ve got the basics down pat before you try the slightly more complicated moves!
There are lots of breastfeeding covers out there that you can buy to use if you would like to, or a simple muslin would be fine. I used one for quite a while with the boy and it gave me the confidence to know that wherever I went I would be able to feed him. He was quite a fussy feeder and so I was constantly worried that he may be on and off all the time. If you feel you want to use a cover to boost your confidence then go for it! Just make sure that you are not compromising your position and attachment when you do use it as that may make you sore. I haven’t used one at all with Flixster when feeding as I don’t feel that I need to.
Clothing – plan ahead! There are lots of breastfeeding specific clothes out there to buy, and that’s great if you want to invest in a new wardrobe but there are also lots of ordinary everyday items of clothing that will work well when breastfeeding. Spaghetti strap vests become your friend! I tend to layer up and wear a couple of vest tops, one you can pull up and one you can pull down to just below the bra. Then you can drop the cup on your bra and just expose the nipple part of your breast, once the baby is attached you’ll be showing barely anything at all. Wrap dresses or wrap top or pretty much anything with a deep ‘V’ shape neck can be teamed with a vest top – pull the vest top up, drop the bra cup and way you go. A boob tube and a t-shirt over the top, pull the shirt up, pull the boob tube down a little, drop your cup and away you go. Boob tubes are great under pretty much any top as they cover your middle which most new mums certainly don’t want to show and can be pulled down to just under the bra and your other top can be pulled up.
Where to feed – My favourite place is of course the coffee shops of wherever we are, because most of them sell cake! A feed for baby and a treat for me – after all they do say that feeding burns 500 cals a day (why I’m not stick thin I don’t know!) What if you can’t find a coffee shop though or you don’t want to spend money? How about a changing room, are you in a shop that has quite a few changing cubicles. Most shops have seats in them now, or at least somewhere to perch. If you ask nicely enough I’ve never been turned away. Now I realise it’s not ‘in public’ but it will have a seat which most breastfeeders need, and is easily available in most clothes shops! Failing that most book shops have seats too! Often larger shopping centers will have a feeding room so it’s always worth an ask.
When you first start feeding out and about and feel nervous about it have someone with you who can sit with you and chat, it might take your mind off it a bit and also make sure they too are aware of the law so that if anybody does say anything they are with you to defend you. At this point let me reassure you that incidents of anybody saying something to a breastfeeding mum happen far less than you think they do. I myself have fed out and about many many times and have never been made to feel uncomfortable, it does happen but of course those are often the stories that make the news. The millions of mums who feed out and about without incident every single day aren’t news worthy.
So please go out and feed in public if your baby is hungry, don’t let breastfeeding stop you from going out. If you need to start slowly to build up your confidence do that, everyone starts somewhere and those mums that make it look easy undoubtedly were nervous the first time they fed in public. Most of the time you wouldn’t give me a second glance when feeding in public, you’d probably just think I was giving my baby a close hug, but let me tell you it certainly wasn’t like that for me at first. I’ve been there. I’ve been that mum that would panic at the first twitch of baby being unhappy and needing feeding. You can do it, you really can, it just takes practise and the confidence will come.
Please feel free to get in touch with me if you want any further help or pointers, I’m happy to discuss my journey with anyone.
This week we are lucky enough to have Daddy off work for three days, two of the days the boy is going to be carrying on at nursery and on Friday we will all spend a family day together. Keeping the boy in nursery means that Daddy gets to spend some quality time with Flixster and we can go look at and buy some Christmas presents for the boy. This morning we decided to go and have breakfast out somewhere which is not something we often do. I love breakfast, I think it is my favourite meal of the day. As a breastfeeding mummy I get so hungry in the night and have a rumbly tumbly each morning. I’ve always loved breakfast especially cereal and we often have a vast array of cereals in the house. I could eat it morning noon and night (and have been known to!) So as we were discussing it last night I was googling places to go and Harvester popped up. We have 3 different harvester restaurants local to us so we picked the one that was on the way to the place we were going today. Daddy dropped the boy off at nursery and came back to pick us up. I was very happy to see this sign in the door taking proud of place, as we arrived.
I’m happy to feed anywhere but I hope that this sign makes other mummies who may feel uncomfortable feeding in public a little more comfortable. No matter if you’re bottle or breastfeeding, babies should be able to eat when they are hungry and mummies should be free to feed anyway they choose without being worried about anyone else.
We arrived not long after 9am and we were the first people in today. It had been open since 8am but it is midweek so I wouldn’t have expected it to be busy. Not long after we arrived other people started to arrive too. We were seated at a table of our choosing and offered a highchair which we politely declined as Flixster isn’t sitting up yet or eating any solids. Our waitress explained the new menu. I don’t know what they offered before but it is apparently now unlimited which is new with a choice of continental (£2.99) or continental and cooked items (£4.99). Unlimited drinks of tea, filter coffee and juice was an additional £2.25. After both choosing the cooked option and unlimited drinks we went off to see what was on offer. The usual salad bar had cold breakfast items which you help yourself to rather than salad as it does for lunch and dinner. The menu listed all these items too but I noticed somethings were on the menu but not out on the bar. There was however still lots of choice including fresh fruit, yoghurt and pancakes.
Over on the other side of the room there was a table set up with a large toaster where you could put a choice of bread, crumpets or muffins through. This was also where the drinks were on offer. There was two large jugs of filter coffee and a good selection of tea bags.
The toaster and coffee
The crumpets and muffins
Coffee and tea
Tea selection and decaf coffee
Juice and milk
Everything was lovely and clean and looked and felt fresh.
I started with a small bowl of muesli (I tried to start a little bit healthy!) from the cold bar and I took a couple of pancakes over to the toaster to warm them up and pour a little syrup on top. There were all sorts of toppings for toast including Nutella and Marmite. Whilst we enjoyed the cold items we ordered our hot breakfast items from the waitress, you can have whatever you want from the list which included lots of different potato and egg choices.
We both made our choices and finished up our cold items. The pancakes and syrup were lovely and hubby said the crumpets were nice too. The hot breakfast didn’t take long and was exactly what we had ordered. I’m not keen on meat so I ordered the cheese and leek sausage instead of the meat sausage. I did have the bacon and was hoping it wouldn’t be greasy. It was in fact just perfect, nicely cooked and not greasy at all.
The scrambled eggs were lovely and creamy and the mushrooms had a lovely flavour. I loved the veggie sausage although would only have one next time as I was truly stuffed! We rarely have breakfast out so really enjoyed treating ourselves. It was past 10 by the time we were ready to leave so we had been there well over an hour. The total came to £14.48 which I think was really good value for money considering what we had enjoyed and the time we had been there. I would definitely return again some time, I think the boy would love it too. I imagine weekends do get busier and having to wait a while to use the toaster (as you do in hotels) may not make it quite as fun but I guess I’ll have to go back sometime and see.
Overall we really enjoyed ourselves, the food was lovely and a really good choice to suit all tastes, the place was clean and the service was good. The price was just right and I would certainly be recommending the harvester breakfast to friends, I hope that we can go back again soon with the boy to see what he thinks!
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