Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Breastfeeding in Public - Do You Do It?

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When I was pregnant with big J I never really gave much thought to breastfeeding. It wasn't really something I remember talking about with my midwife. I just chose to bottle feed with formula and never thought whether that was right or wrong thing to do, I just did it. 
 
Fast forward 12 years, when I was pregnant with little J I felt this was pretty much all we talked about about at every midwife appointment. It was always mentioned and my answer was always the same, yes I am going to try to breastfeed. 
 
I read all about breastfeeding and I know it comes naturally to some and to others it can be a struggle but I couldn't wait. 
 
When little J was born I thought we would both know exactly what to do, but that wasn't what happened. We both struggled but that didn't put is off, we carried on and eventually we did get there but not for long.
 
It was such a long process for me to try and get little J to breastfeed that in the end I expressed for a little while but then I had to call it a day. It was such a lovely experience and I am so glad I did. 
 
I hadn't thought as far as breastfeeding in a public place but to me it wouldn't have been a problem because it's natural and it's just a way of life. Unfortunately not everyone agrees with this thought and  there is lots of negativity surrounding breastfeeding in public and I don't understand why but Benenden recently conducted a survey about breastfeeding and the thoughts of the 647 people who completed it are very interesting.
 
49% of Mummy's who didn't breastfeed said they wanted to, or tried to. So I would have probably answered this in the way that I tried to but it only lasted 8 weeks. Those 8 weeks of breastmilk was precious to my baby so I wonder why those that wanted to, didn't?
 
16% said they chose formula because its convenient and whilst I agree I also found expressing convenient too. It meant that Daddy and big J could feed little J but he was still having breast milk.
 
The survey shows that some people are genuinely put off breastfeeding because of negativity. 1 in 5 mums have experienced this in public. Out of all the mummy's who have breastfed in public only 57% admitted they feel comfortable doing so.
 
16% of women said breastfeeding is unacceptable in public, compared to 6% men. I don't really know what is unacceptable about feeding a baby. I have seen many women breastfeeding in public and it has always been very discreet.
 
 Lots of places now show 'breastfeeding friendly' stickers or have designated areas for mummy's to sit down and relax whilst feeding.
 
So does attitude towards breastfeeding depend on age or location? Well the survey shows that 90% of 25-40 year olds find it acceptable to breastfeed in public. The over 60's had the biggest percentage finding it unacceptable and 40% found it inappropriate.
 
41% of the negativity came from the south of England and just 2% from Northern Ireland.
 
I honestly think if you can overcome the comments, the strange looks or stares then you should breastfeed in public if you want to breastfeed in public. You should never let anyone put you off. Its your choice and you know the benefits of breastfeeding to both you and your baby so that's all that matters.
 
 
*In collaboration with Benenden*
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5 comments

  1. good subject to bring up. sadly nothing I could personally relate to x

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  2. I'm astounded by how many over 60s seem to be anti-breastfeeding. I know some would have been in the time where formula was just becoming more normal, but even so, surely they would know the benefits, and it's not like breastfeeding mums flaunt flesh everywhere compared with young girls in little shorts or vest tops.

    I always said I wanted to breastfeed. I'd done NCT, I'd spoken to friends who'd done it a bit, and most of my NCT friends managed to do it. N would latch on (supposedly well according to the brestfeeding support midwife in hospital), but he wouldn't suck. 3 days in hospital and all he'd had was hand expressed colostrum. At that stage his blood sugar was down and he had to have formula - he had no problem sucking that. I tried again once home, and tried expressing as well as I wanted him to have at least some breastmilk, but the pump really wasn't great and he was thriving on formula. That's what worked for us and I don't regret that - although I was expecting the midwives in hospital to have marched me to the pumping room like they seemed to do with friends who'd had children before.

    The 2 of us out of the 8 in our NCT group who formula fed were both cs births. Another was cs too, but had a lot of help as her son was premature so needed to get breastmilk. But all 6 of the others struggled and had help over the phone or at baby cafe or a lactation expert coming out. It shows how hard it can be, and how obstinate you have to be. It helps if you have a partner at home who's supportive. Mine was back at work straight away being a farmer, and I'm not the sort to search out help. If I'd been able to drive, maybe I'd have been able to get to baby cafe earlier to get breastfeeding support, but I felt the midwives and health visitor didn't push it with me as they realised that we'd worked out something that was working for us and were happy with it.

    Turned out 2.5 years down the line that my son was tongue tied - noone had thought to check this at birth or when we had problems breastfeeding. Maybe if they had (or if I'd known about it), we'd have been able to carry on. But maybe not.

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  3. Interesting. It doesn't surprise me about the over 60's. I guess when they were younger it was a no go area. These days I think it's more than acceptable. I'm not sure what the problem is with southeners? If you want to breastfeed, go for it!

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  4. Yes I did and with twins it was tricky but if I hadn't I would been housebound as feeding took a long time.

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