Mini Mini is nearly 3 months old and in that time I am happy to report that I have become something of an expert in breastfeeding in public and by expert I mean not giving a toss what others may think and getting down to the business of feeding my baby.
Many, many years B.M. (before Minis), I would watch some women(not many, this is Ireland after all!)struggle to extricate their boob from its modest covering and manouveure it into baby’s gob without too much of a public display and would wonder why they chose to breastfeed their children in such public places. I would think to myself, could she not have fed the baby before she left the house? Don’t get me wrong, I have never had a problem with it, rather I would imagine confrontation arising between what I perceived to be these brave mamas and those less than understanding of (shock horror!) a flash of naked skin in plain sight. No matter if we think otherwise, Western society dictates that female breasts are sexual in nature. Somewhere along the course of modern human history, somebody who wasn’t a suckling infant took one look at a pair of lady lumps and decided it turned him on.Of course now I know that women don’t pick the most awkward places to feed a hungry infant. The choice is not really up to them, rather it is the tiny human they call son or daughter who calls the shots. Baby, not mama, not prudish shopkeeper or ignorant waiter, decides when he or she will be fed. It really is that simple.
I was nervous when it came to the thought of breastfeeding in public so I made sure I invested in nursing tops with “easy access” and also ensured that every time we left the house, I had a scarf with me to offer further coverage. My daughter is not a huge fan of having fabric cover her face and head, however, so I soon ditched the scarf and after a while, I just got on with the task in hand. To date I have breastfed Mini-Mini for all to see in a local community meeting, in a cafe, in a restaurant, at a bus shelter and on a beach. After having failed to establish successful breastfeeding with my first child,it feels great to have done so with my second and I am determined to remain calm and polite should anyone come to question my actions in a public setting. But so far, I haven’t needed to.
Nearly 3 months down the line, I have yet to encounter any negativity regarding this most basic of human actions.
One other public place I have fed daughter no 2 is on a recent Ryanair flight. Now it would not have occurred to me to contact them like this mama did on Twitter recently:
@ClassicHippie I Lindsay unfortunately you are not able to breast feed if you don't have a cover up. I'm sorry. *SD
— Delta Assist (@DeltaAssist) February 21, 2014
Wait what now? The representative from Delta’s answer was to enforce a bottle on a 10 week old breastfeeding infant. Some babies won’t take liquid from a bottle at all. I know, I was once one of those very awkward babies. Hundreds of RTs, favourites and collective outrage across the Twittersphere and wider online community later, and Delta say that the representative was incorrect in his or her assertion that breastfeeding without a cover is not allowed on one of their flights, which is a relief but something I wish hadn’t escalated at all. Because babies need to eat. Once again not when it’s convenient for you or me or even their parents but when it’s necessary for them.
On a final note, it’s worth having a quick glance at Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights-
(1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
Amongst other needs, no one should be denied food. It’s a basic principle but a vital one. Without food, we die. Breast milk is the only food some babies will take-they look for it in places that have meaning to you and me, but no obvious connection yet for them-like shopping malls and cinemas and restaurants and airplanes. Last time I checked, babies were people too. Why is it ok to trample on their human rights in the so called name of modesty?