Making breastfeeding normal

It’s World Breastfeeding week 2014, and the Irish Parenting Bloggers have a little linky going to mark it- check out the other posts here.

This year’s theme is “Breastfeeding: A Winning Goal for life”, which frankly is a bit, well, dull and maybe preachy. Not my style, remember, I breastfed in the middleground.

So, we’re kind of doing our own thing, and sharing photos of breastfeeding, or our experiences of it. I don’t have many photos, it didn’t dawn on me to take any at the time.

I wrote an article about breastfeeding last year that was published in the Irish Independent. The editor said she’d like photos of me and my baby to accompany the article, and I immediately, without her even having asked,  said “fine, but none of me feeding”.

Why did I feel I had to say that, without being asked? I just didn’t want to be that girl, at that time.

I don’t regret my decision, I just didn’t want to get my boobs out for the largest daily newspaper in Ireland.  It’s not that I’m a prude, and it’s not that I would be actually getting my boobs out. There’d be a small patch of skin showing at most, and possibly some underwear issues, but that would be it. But people don’t really get that, and get uncomfortable when you start foostering with those bloody catches on the nursing bras and expect a flash of boob (which doesn’t happen often, honest).

Why not?

Because in Ireland, breastfeeding rates are low, and breastfeeding in public isn’t really the norm. Now it’s improving I think, I’ve noticed “Breastfeeding Friendly” signs in local cafés, although I don’t look for the signs, my rule was always, if I have to eat then baby gets to too. By the time I had my third baby I didn’t care, if baby needed feeding she needed feeding, I wasn’t going to get concerned about where. I’ve fed babies all over, from coffee shops to at a GAA match in the stands, benches at the Zoo. There’s also been many times I’ve thought it easier to just go to the car rather than risk bringing unwanted attention on myself.

I’ve had people leave the room when I feed, half out of embarrassment, half thinking that they should, unsure what they’re supposed to do.  It’s because people aren’t used to it I think.

I remember the first time I breastfed a baby in a café, it was my eldest, he was 5 weeks old. The lady at the next table to us in the cafe started chatting to us and congratulated me for breastfeeding. She told me she’d tried to feed her eldest, but she’d bitten her and her nipple had never been the same again. There’s a great camaradery, I always give breastfeeding mothers a big smile.

But until there are more breastfeeding mothers shown on TV or in the newspapers, breastfeeding isn’t going to be normalised, and therefore people won’t know where to look , or what to do. When is the last time you saw a baby being breastfed on a screen, in a “real life” drama? (No, One Born doesn’t count).

We’ve had a few celebrities tweet breastfeeding pics, the famous Gisele Bundchen one, Miranda Kerr, and the latest from Olivia Wilde (Check them out here).

All this will help to make it normal, so that when our daughters go to breastfeed in public they won’t even think, they’ll just do it, and nobody in the room will feel that they have to leave, because they’re used to it.

So, to make my little stand for normalcy, here’s a pic of me breastfeeding, or my baby feeding to be more accurate. I might just have become “that girl”.


Baby tucking in


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