There are often too many negative stories about breastfeeding in the mainstream media. And while it’s important to continue campaigning for better breastfeeding support in this country, breastfeeding in public is still a concern and leads to mothers stopping before recommended age of 6 months.
Unscientifically, if word of mouth, my experiences at being a peer supporter and generally talking to mums in our community, Brighton is, on balance, an incredibly supportive place to breastfeed publicly.
So we have compiled some positive anecdotes for anyone who is hesitant, discouraged or lacks confident to the most natural thing by their baby, in public.
Maggie Gordon-Walker of Mother’s Uncovered: I was with my two boys. My eldest must have been nearly 4 and my youngest about 9 months. We were in the café at the garden centre. The older brother had had something to eat and was zooming round noisily. I was trying to shush him while giving the baby a quick feed. It was autumn so I remember I had a few layers on and had positioned myself in quite a quiet spot. I looked up and noticed that 2 older (prob late 60s) women were observing us. I tensed up a bit, thinking they might say something disapproving. They got up to go before us and I relaxed. On the way out though, one gave an approving nod or smile (possibly said something too, I don’t remember) towards me. I felt so pleased that they didn’t disapprove, because I’m sure they wouldn’t have ventured out in public when they’d been younger, if they’d needed to breastfeed.
Sheila: I was feeding my son in a cafe in my home town when a man got up tutted at me and left but when he needed feeding on a bus i went to the back of the bus and a lady told me how brave she thought i was in a world like this.
Victoria: Shop closing, all other customers gone, lady running the cafe approached me with a large glass of water saying “you stay as long as you like – your baby comes first”.
Katrina: The bar manager was called to see to a problem at table 9 by one of his staff. He came to see what the complaint was, I was with a friend, feeding my second child. Words were exchanged and the barperson who had called the manager was seen leaving with his coat! I never saw him working at that bar at lunchtimes again. And I’ve continue to feed happily there, many times ore. So don’t feel you have to go to a cafe or even the changing rooms. I’ve often found pubs to be helpful, even bringing me water and napkins.
Lisa: Any women should be able to feed her child wherever she needs to. I fed my children in cafes,parks and lot’s of other places. If people were minding their own business they wouldn’t notice anyway it is done discreetly and is the most natural thing in the world!
Grace: My then 3 yr old wanted feeding in the middle of the play park, and I dithered, feeling very self-conscious and anxious; then I saw someone feeding her own child who was obviously the same age or older, so I went ahead. I went over and thanked her afterwards. Breastfeeding an older child can feel very isolating, as you rarely see anyone else doing it, so I was grateful for her courage.
Lauren who writes the blog Belle Du Brighton: On a Southern rail train from BTN to london last week the train guard noticed me feeding and said I was welcome to use the first class section if I wanted privacy. I’m still not sure if it was nice or not… he was friendly and worded it so it was my choice (obviously!) But why should I need privacy… I think he was genuinely trying to be accommodating. I’ve had no negative experiences and have fed everywhere from the benches outside Churchill Square when she was 4 days old to the beach and at Church during a service (St Nicholas is very open to babies and parents and their needs!).
Anya who writes the blog Older Single Mum: I always found Brighton to be very pro Breast feeding. Infinity Cafe had a sign up saying Breastfeeding was welcome when I used to go there (over 4 years ago now though). I certainly don’t think we get the same stigma it attracts up north.
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