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.
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.
"No..you'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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