The Ongoing Criminalization of Breastfeeding (Guest Post)

Breastfeeding in public can be intimidating, but fortunately there are many products on the market that make it much easier for mothers. For those times when it's just not possible to breastfeed behind closed doors, a few items can make discreet nursing much more convenient and comfortable.

Nursing Covers

There are a wide variety of nursing cover styles and patterns available for breastfeeding moms. Some nursing covers have an adjustable neckline with boning, which allows you to see your baby and also provides ventilation. If you don't want to fiddle around with a strap, you can also use a large lightweight blanket or fashionable scarf to provide privacy. Choose a nursing cover that will last if you plan to nurse your baby for the long term. If you're going for full coverage, the wrap should cover your entire chest and extend far enough on the sides to provide plenty of cover.

Nursing Sash

Nursing sashes are ideal for moms who are less nervous about letting people know they are nursing in public. When you use a nursing sash, your breast is completely exposed but your baby isn't under a cover. Nursing sashes have two layers of fabric that separate to allow access to the breast. To use a nursing sash, you will need to be wearing a shirt that allows you to easily nurse by pulling down your shirt from the top, rather than lifting it up from the bottom. For example, if you're wearing a turtleneck sweater a nursing sash is out of the question. Most nursing sashes also have a detachable burp cloth that you can use when your baby finishes nursing.

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Stagecoach Investigation proves Breastfeeding Complaint against Bus Driver is Untrue

A few weeks ago I re-posted a story which had appeared in many media outlets throughout the world reporting how a young mother claimed she'd been verbally abused and thrown off a Stagecoach bus for breastfeeding her 6 week old baby. Well, it turns out she lied.

Naturally, I've removed my post, but it infuriates me that any woman would actually make up such a story. Obviously all she has done is damage, perhaps irreparably, the reputation of the coach company not to mention her own reputation too. She has also no doubt caused a huge amount of anxiety and stress for the driver of the coach as he waited to see the outcome. Indeed, she has also exploited just how easy it is nowadays to spread damaging stories worldwide.

Anyway, following an official investigation by Stagecoach into the story, I've just received the following statement which I'm very happy to share:

A Stagecoach spokesman said: "We expect a very high standard of customer service from our drivers. When this accusation was made, we immediately took steps to determine the circumstances involved and were fully prepared to take the necessary action had one of our drivers been at fault. 

"Rest assured, had any of our drivers spoken to a customer in the manner alleged in this case, they would have faced serious disciplinary consequences. However, the on-board CCTV footage does not support the events described by the customer in this case and, along with the use of voice-enabled technology, this has demonstrated that the driver was in no way at fault. 

"Fortunately, we have been able to prevent a situation where a member of staff could have faced serious consequences over allegations which have turned out not to be true. For the record, we fully support breastfeeding mothers and we are perfectly happy for them to do so on our buses."

Extended Breastfeeding - Right or Wrong?

I've just been reading an intriguing article (see below) about extended breastfeeding in today's Daily Mail.

Considering I breastfed all three of my children beyond a year, and one of them for almost two and a half years, it was fascinating to read about the opinions and obstacles breastfeeding mothers face from others regarding the issue.

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Nursing in Public - What's a Breastfeeding Mother to Do!! - Carnival of Breastfeeding

Nursing in public Welcome to the Carnival of Breastfeeding! Nursing in public is this month's theme and there have been absolutely loads of contributors for this one! They're all listed below and will be updated throughout the day as they become available. Without further ado, here's mine:

Nursing in Public - What's a Breastfeeding Mother to Do!

Nursing in Public... oh just the very the thought of it filled me with dread.

What if someone was offended and made a big scene? What if some school kids started giggling and pointing at me? What if I caused someone other than myself to get dreadfully embarrassed? What if my baby was making a great big fuss and I started leaking all over the place? What if I just couldn't do it? 

So many what ifs, so much to worry about and no idea what to do about it all.

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Join the June Carnival of Breastfeeding - Nursing in Public

Nursing-in-public Join the June  Carnival of Breastfeeding!

The June Carnival of Breastfeeding will be based on the theme Nursing in Public. Have you a story you'd like to share about your experiences of breastfeeding in public? Were you comfortable nursing in public, and if not, how did you get around it? What tips have you got for mums who find the idea a bit scary? How did other people react to you breastfeeding your baby in a public place? How did you respond to comments good or bad? Whatever your experiences, we'd love to hear about them :)

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Breastfeeding Mother?

I mentioned in a previous post that we'd just returned from a family holiday to Co Clare on the West Coast of Ireland. Well, here's a story I brought back with me that I thought may interest all you breastfeeding mothers!

On the second day of our holiday we were all feeling a little peckish after inhaling the fresh sea breeze and dallying along the shore for a short while. As we wandered aimlessly up the hill towards town, we decided to pop in for a quick (it's always quick when you have three children in tow!) bite to eat in a quirky little cafe we'd noticed on our way.

As we found some seats, another couple and their beautiful little baby sat behind us. Now Jack, our two year old, is going through a clean phase, which I'm sure won't last for long, and he was busily rubbing his hands together and repeating, "Wash hands, wash hands" as he tried to get the sand off them! Well as you can imagine this caught the attention of the other family and it wasn't long before we got chatting. We discovered that, like us, this family was also on a rather rainy holiday with their five month old daughter, a very alert and pretty little girl who was taking a great interest in her pram toy and who Jack was rather taken with!

After chatting briefly about where we came from and places to visit, our food was served.

As we proceeded to eat, out of the corner of my eye I noticed the baby next to us getting a little restless. "Hmm," I pondered, "I wonder if she's a breastfed baby..." but I refrained from asking as I didn't want to be nosey!

Funnily enough it wasn't just the baby's behaviour that made me think this but also the reaction of her parents. As the mum of three breastfed babies I've always noticed how they got restless the moment I even thought about eating! And as a breastfeeding mother whose babies often wanted fed in places where I didn't feel particularly comfortable about feeding, such as in a cramped and packed tourist cafe, I instinctively felt that perhaps I was right!

However, what happened next really gave the game away... the baby's parents began speaking to one another in rather urgent hushed tones and I got the impression they were just waiting for the baby to start howling. And since I've been in that very same situation oh-so-many-times myself I couldn't help but feel sincere empathy for them both.

In the same situation I often found myself swinging between thoughts of paying for the untouched food and dashing for the privacy of my car to feed my hungry baby or gulping down the food whilst trying to hold off the battle-cry with any and every implement of distraction at hand!

Even in a packed public place like the one we were in, I often felt very much alone as I wrestled with my conscience over what was the right thing to do - should I just go ahead and breastfeed knowing probably no-one would notice and even if they did, so what? Or should I just try to get out of the place and feed somewhere more private and less intimidating for me and my baby?

Ironically as I sat there relating to our new friends, Jack was displaying his own breastfed baby behaviour - tugging at my tea-shirt, breathlessly pleading for "Mama Juice" whilst my husband and I both tried our own distraction techniques - "Look at the wee baby, Jack... Aww isn't she lovely?" "Mama Juice, Mama Juice..."

These days, because of Jack's age however, I rarely dare to feed in public anymore - partly because I've never really felt entirely at ease doing so, partly because we're in serious weaning mode right now (which is not going down too well with him!), but mostly because I realise for Jack breastfeeding has really become more habit/ comfort than actual hunger or thirst (ie, he often polishes off his dinner, downs a glass of water and then sidles up to me with an adorably cute smile on his face and whispers his favourite words!)

When we'd finished our meal and got up to leave, I turned to say goodbye to the family and we got chatting again. As I was telling the mother of the baby how I'd had an early start with Sarah waking me at 5.45am demanding breakfast and that Jack had been up a few times too, she questioned why Jack had been up. As I proceeded to confide that Jack was still breastfeeding her eyes lit up as she too confided that her baby was was also breastfed and that was what had been wrong with her during the meal. We both laughed as I told her of my suspicions that her baby wanted a breastfeed and we joked how easy it must be if you could just have a bottle at the ready for those awkward moments!!

When I mentioned that I ran a breastfeeding website and gave her my card she exclaimed with amazement that she'd already come across it... What a truly small world we live in!

So if you're reading this Mary, I trust Isabel is keeping well and that the breastfeeding continues to go wonderfully for both of you! Who knows - perhaps we'll bump into one another again somewhere a bit warmer and drier next year!! And maybe Isabel will still be breastfeeding and you'll be another breastfeeding mum with an uncanny ability to pinpoint all the breastfeeding families around you!

Woman Breastfeeds in Public!

Breastfeeding in Public A close friend (who is a nurse) recalled how she and her boyfriend went to a local cafe for some refreshments. As her boyfriend scanned the cafe for some seats, she went to the counter to order and pay.

Upon her return, she noticed he was in a bit of a state about something. Rushing over, she asked if he felt okay. But he was so distressed at this stage that all he could gasp was "Sit down".

As she took a seat, his distress becoming ever more apparent, he wheezed, "Not here, not here."

By now my nurse friend was concerned by both his shortness of breath and flushed complexion. Tentatively she requested whether he had any pain in his left arm or across his chest, classic signs of a heart attack...

To which he responded, "Don't look, but there's a woman breastfeeding behind you!"

To which she responded, " So?"

To which he stuttered, "Well... I don't have a problem with it - but I was afraid she might think I was staring at her breasts..."

Need I say more!

Breastfeeding in Public

Breastfeeding in Public A few weeks ago Tanya from Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog contacted me to ask if I'd put together a few thoughts on my experiences of breastfeeding in public in Northern Ireland.

The reason for this request was that she was putting together a couple of posts focusing on nursing in public around the world.

Considering I have been breastfeeding around the clock for the last 22 months, I was more than happy to oblige... you can read my piece here!