I have always been a pretty self-conscious person. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m quite tall and tended to stand out amongst groups of friends, or because I was picked on a lot in school, or because (like most women) I’ve been taught that being nice and accommodating to others is critical to success (and in some cases survival).
Whatever it is, I hate being conspicuous in public and tend to play it safe in terms or hair, dress and presentation to keep from drawing attention. I think a lot of cis women would relate to that (and if you don’t I’m truly envious!).
I knew without doubt when I was pregnant that I wanted to breastfeed if I could. But my natural concern was how would I cope in public? Would I cover up? How would I respond if someone said something? What was the deal with feeding when catching up with work friends; I mean can you get a boob out??
I needn’t have bothered myself with the worry!
Elliott fed within moments of arriving in the world and nuzzled on the boob was his favourite spot for the next 18 months. For the first time in my life I gave absolutely no shits about what other people thought. I have never cared less about anything in my life and that was an amazing life lesson.
For the first time in my life I gave absolutely no shits about what other people thought.
On morning one of the beautiful mums from my Mum Club arrived to our catch up really distressed because her daughter had decided she needed to be fed at the supermarket and some persnickity middle-aged woman had a go at her about feeding in public. We had a big chat about how we felt about feeding publicly. A few shared how self-conscious they felt about feeding which highlighted to me how unself-conscious I felt about it (and that is 100% not a judgement on their feelings! Everyone absolutely has their own personal levels of comfort which I fully respect!)
But given I’ve spent my life trying to blend into the background, it was strange for me to embrace an act that tends to be fairly polarising and does attract attention. So I reflected on how I could be so empowered about breastfeeding and so unempowered about so many other aspects of my life and here’s what I came up with:
My baby needed it: the mother bear instinct kicked in hard on this one. I knew breastfeeding Elliott was helping him grow and develop (the 500g that kid crammed on each week confirmed that!). I also understood the protective factors that supported his immune system that breastfeeding supplied.
I was responding to Elliott’s needs. Babies have terrible senses of timing. They always seem to need feeding at the worst possible moment. But there was no way I was going t