Monday, 12 October 2009

There's a NIP in the Air..My First ever Blog

A conversation with my teenage daughter last night got me thinking.
What do we love about the changing seasons?
"I love the sunshine on a really chilly day" she said.
Is it the wonder of nature and the beauty of the season.
Maybe its the opportunity to change our wardrobe and indulge in some retail therapy.

I have always been an Autumn/Winter person and enjoy the freshness of the air, the vibrancy of the patchwork leaves, the brittle feeling of an echoing Winter evening.

I'm afraid the thing is I really hate being cold!
It is the season when a NIP in the air has several meanings according to where you happen to be in your cycle of life.

You might be a young child looking forward to the prospect of a snowy day.A teenager, irritated about a walk to school in the cold and wet.A Mother, late for a school run wrapping everyone up in coats, scarves and woolly hats.Or, a breastfeeding Mum, thinking about suitable warm clothing for nursing on the move.
Personally speaking, I am a mother of four, always on the go, working from home and currently breastfeeding my 18 month old boy.

This brings me rather neatly onto the topic in question, ie, Nursing in Public.
There certainly is a NIP in the air and if I had my way there'd be several *NIPS* in the air!
In the park, supermarket, garage, high street, café, shop floor..
Actually you name it and I have probably fed one of my babies there.

You see...I DONT CARE! What I mean by that is I put the needs of my child first.
If you dont like it, DON'T LOOK has always been my mantra.

Mostly I haven't found too much negativity when out and about nursing my little one but there have been a couple of experiences that have made me so furious, so livid that I actually felt violent!
Unusual for me, I am a pacifist who abhors physical acts of brutality.

The first was when I breastfed my first child outside a cafe on Paddington station.
I had a shawl wrapped around me and embodied the absolute soul of discretion.
A very sharp prod to my shoulder alerted me to a red faced scowling man.
"Can't you go somewhere else to do that?" was his anguished wail.

I was absolutely horrified. This was my first baby. I was inexperienced and had just recovered from a bout of mastitus.
It took me a long while to recover my confidence enough to breastfeed in public and only the very wonderful local Breastfeeding Café got me back in my stride.

Some 15 years later I had my third child and I really believed times MUST have changed.
Sadly not.
Infact in some respects things seem to have taken a downwards spiral.

Having a baby after a 15 year gap was really like starting all over again so on my first shopping trip I was certainly not prepared for my very unpleasant experience.

Leon was just 2 weeks old when Mum, my daughter and I ventured out to buy some new bras in Debenhams, Hemel Hempstead. Yes, named and shamed I'm afraid.
Being a fussy feeder I tried hard to respond quickly to his hungry cries.

As my daughter had nipped into a changing room to try on some bras I decide to take the opportunity and sat down outside the changing room on a little bench.
I easily latched baby on and wrapped a muslin around my shoulder. Nothing at was visible to anyone. Unless of course a zoom lens were being used. (Little did I know?)

A very young shop assistant who I had been chatting to amicably about nursing bras rather gleefully sneered "You cant do that in here..its against company policy"
I was totally horrified. Once unlatched it was virtually impossible to easily get Leon latched back on.
"Can I just finish his feed?" I squeaked.
"'ll have to go and find a mother and baby room somewhere"

Leon screamed the place down in protest and I was absolutely livid.
When I tried to question the girl as to WHY exactly I should stop and who on earth would take offence her answer was a rather strange one.
"The security camera might see you."
WHAT?? So I cant feed my baby because some person behind a security camera might possibly catch a glimpse of something untoward?
WHAT if that same camera might view a bottlefed baby or worse still a woman's breast in a skimpy top?

Luckily I was able to finish the feed in Marks and Spencers cafe (Good old M & S!) but not before considerable embarrassment.

The whole episode left a very bad taste in my mouth and Debenhams has been boycotted ever since!

I am very interested to hear other Mum's experiences of Nursing in Public, both good and bad.
I would also like to compile a little directory of Breastfeeding Friendly Places.
Theses can be cafés, shopping centres or any areas in general that have given you a feel good feeling about nursing in public.

There's nothing worse than being relegated to some filthy toilet or badly kept Mother and Baby room...Absolutely revolting!

Please do comment on my first blog. I'm sure my creative juices will flow more freely in the future but any encouragement would be greatly appreciated!

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  1. I enjoyed reading this interesting piece. I think it is time some stock put-downs be compiled that mums can give in reply to those who object to breastfeeding in public. At the time it is so upsetting and offensive that you are lost for words - what is more vulnerable than a mother with an infant child at her breast?

  2. My hubby actually jumped to the defence of a young nursing mother the other day, we were in the airport arrival lounge waiting for hubby's luggage to arrive and sitting just by us was a lady and her very young baby, she was obviously waiting for someone off a flight and she was feeding her baby, my little toddler was facinated with the baby and we were chatting to her, a horrible elderly couple came and sat down opposite us and in a very loud voice the man said to his wife, "god that's disgusting she should be ashamed to do that in public".

    I was really proud of my hubby when he said to them, "No you should be ashamed of yourselves and if you don't like it move. It is offending no one else."

    If only more people felt like that, Love your new blog.

  3. Thank you so much! Lets all think of comments and come-backs for when we are told to "put it away" or "Be more discreet"!

  4. I can't believe what the fuss is about, when you can go to almost any beach, read a red-top rag or visit an art gallery and be bombarded with breasts and breastfeeding images. Of course, Freud would say that those who make the most noise...

    (Great first post, btw!)

  5. Brilliant first post. xx

    Trouble with comebacks is - you have to be so confident to use them. And when you've a baby at your breast (especially if you're a first time Mum and aren't used to breastfeeding) it's hard to feel confident.

    Personally, I found seeking out the company of other breastfeeding mums great, tho around here they're hard to find! Breastfeeding in a group of four, letting it all hang out, as it were - if people say anything to you, you're much better equipped to confidently come back at someone who said anything.

    Having said that, I've had the curtain pulled around me (in an NHS hospital!!) and been told to use the disabled loo (in ... guess... that's right, an NHS hospital) and the first time I just sat there shocked, but the second time I said "no, thank you, I'm more comfortable here". Polite but firm.

    Difficult situations.

    Also - Debenhams - how horrible!! :(

  6. Yay! Finally a minute to leave you a comment.

    Great first post!

    What I wish people would recognise is how hard it can be in those first few weeks to nurse AT ALL! Let alone in public. When getting breastfeeding established the last thing you need to be doing is faffing about with muslins and squishing yourself on a hard plastic chair in some horrible loo somewhere. What you need is a nice comfy chair in somewhere warm and relaxing where you and your new baby don't need to feel embarrassed about what you're doing.

    Because the alternative? Probably cooping yourself up at home, feeling isolated... not good.

    Keep going honey - you're doing great!

  7. Well I hope I'm not gonna get jumped on but I havent got kids and I do feel a little embarrassed when I see someone breast feeding their babies in public. I wouldnt ever say 'put it away', it think from a non baby person its the dreaded 'fear' of seeing a boob out in public more than the act of feeding a child. Just trying to put a different perspective on things. Having said that fizzy has been my best mate for over 20 years and I'm so used to her popping hers out I dont even notice any more!

  8. There's a meme over at mine for you.I'm having 'issues' with my keyboard so I can't give you the direct link but if you go to it's under pesonality traits.Keep up with the excellant writing!

  9. The title of your blog is racist. Do you understand that it is derogatory to Japanese nationals.

    I find it ironic that you are complaining about being offended when asked to cover your breasts whilst simultaneously and repeatedly offending a whole nation.

    Maybe a little research on the origins of that phrase would enlighten your ignorant mind.

  10. James,
    I am sorry you found the title of my blog offensive.
    Unfortunately it is not possible for me to google every expression used in my writing.

    I am not in the least bit racist in any way and OBVIOUSLY was not referring to the Japanese as a race and there was certainly no war reference "hidden" in my blog!

    If you had bothered to read my blog properly you would see that the whole point is YOU CANNOT SEE my breasts unless you are literally peering down at me from inches away.

    There are many expressions used in every day speech which may have double meanings or inferences.

    I apologise to any Japanese person who has been deeply offended by my use of title.
    NIP is used to describe the cold weather and is a double entendre for NIPPLE.(Obviously)

  11. James, NIP is used internationally as an abbreviation for Nursing In Public, and is also short for nipple. "A nip in the air" is not a racist expression in and of itself, when it refers to the weather. Just like "fag", in Britain, refers to a cigarette, unless a homophobe uses it to refer to a gay person.

  12. Fab post hun, sorry its teken ages to leave a comment, blogger wouldn't let me x

  13. I am amazed that James thinks a post about Breastfeeding is insulting the Japanese.

    I am also amazed that people are offending by breastfeeding; it is, after all what breasts are for.

    As for all people who think a woman should nurse her baby in a bathroom, would YOU want to eat in a public restroom? Didn't think so!

  14. I'm totally with you! It upsets me greatly to know that I couldn't breastfeed as I would love to talk about it. But I still have such a anger towards people that have problems with women who breastfeed in public , I write/post about it constantly!
    I love this post and I like the fact that my OH first reaction to the breastfeeding photo was - she has pink hair! :D x

  15. Enjoyed your post, thank you! Shocked about Debenhams, our local one seems quite baby friendly and they certainly are in the restaurant. M&S still better though.
    I too am quite confident about breastfeeding in public: I do it discretely, and apart from the odd averted gaze I have not had anyone react badly. In fact I'd welcome someone trying to convince me that breastfeeding an infant could possibly be offensive- what do they think boobs are there for? Wouldn't it be more offensive to consider them purely ornamental?
    I like the pic on your header, are they Knitted Knockers?

  16. Thanks Carly,
    I find the best place for me now is Bicester Village in Prets or the dreaded Starbucks. Roo is 2 now and I dont feed him when we're out as he doesnt ask. IF he did..I would! Simple as that.
    The knitted knockers are fab arent they? I felt they made a lovely banner.. x