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I remember the first time I breastfed you around anyone other than the midwives and your dada – We were all sat around the sofa during the first visits from family, and I knew I would need to do something I’d never done before. I unclipped the cup of my nursing bra to feed you. And it was fine.

I remember the first time I breastfed you in a public place. You were two weeks old and I went to a cafe to meet up with my NCT group. We’d been having major troubles in getting you to stay latched. You’d cry, I’d need to expose my whole boob in order to see what I was doing, and without fail we’d both always end up soaked with milk. I was REALLY nervous about doing this whole routine in public, drawing attention in front of friends I was only just starting to know. You cried, I got milk on my jeans. I looked at the other mums, I listened to their stories, and realised that EVERYONE was ‘learning’ the breastfeeding thing too. And it was fine.

I remember the bundles of pashminas I would carry with me everywhere, and the ‘privacy curtain of fabric’ that friends would help hold up for me. Of course, this made it all the more obvious, but at the time it was what I felt most comfortable with.

I remember wandering round and round a shopping centre, deliberating over where to stop and breastfeed. Weighing up which spot would be the comfiest, least conspicuous place.

I remember when it stopped feeling odd to breastfeed in front of my friends and family.

I remember the point when I realised that breastfeeding in public had become second instinct – sitting down to breastfeed you on the benches where people try on shoes in Clarks. On a busy Saturday. In front of teenage shop assistants who might well have been quite baffled by this. But I hadn’t even thought about it when I did it. The move to respond to my baby’s hunger signals was now a usual part of my every day.

I remember the time I fed you in darkness, in a sling, during a tour of a cave. In fact, I think you’ve breastfed in every single prehistoric cave in France.

I remember the times I breastfed you on buses, trains, and tubes, elbow to elbow with other passengers.

I remember breastfeeding you on a delayed train. I had stopped feeding you in public because it felt awkward now that you were over one. But you were fractious and I was at a loss. And it was fine.

I remember feeding you once at a toddler group, for similar reasons. I assumed I was the only one of the group still breastfeeding, as I hadn’t seen anyone else doing it. But that day, I discovered that THREE mums still were too. And they were glad to find people they could talk to about it.

I remember when you had just turned three, and you liked to tell EVERYONE about breastfeeding, at every opportunity you got. (#awkward)

I remember when your younger brother was born, and I got that apprehensive feeling about breastfeeding in public again.

But I remember how quickly it all came back, how quickly it became a standard part of every day life once more.

I remember the amazing kindness of a woman at Britmums Live 2013, who went out of her way to bring me a glass of water, because she had noticed I was feeding 4 week old Rory.

I remember that this time round, I barely even think about what I’m doing when I breastfed in public.

I remember every time I see someone breastfeeding a toddler in public, because it makes me pleased to know I’m not alone.

And I remember to smile at every breastfeeding mother I catch eyes with. Like a weirdo.

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23 comments

  1. Lovely post. I remember the first time I fed out in public (in the pub surrounded by all my hubby’s friends from the tennis club), but everyone was so supportive and encouraging.

  2. Love this post! I really support the idea of smiling at other breastfeeding mums, we need to help everyone feel confident doing this, especially in the early days.

    I remember feeding for the first time in the John Lewis cafe and thought the couple sitting next to me were disapproving. But as soon as I finished, they started chatting to me about my baby and had obviously just been giving me some space. My advice would be, just get on with it! The more often you do it, the easier it gets.

  3. Top tip: do what makes you feel comfortable. BUT 1 second of full-boobage can avoid 20 minutes of baby screaming cos you took too long by trying to be subtle. Which makes it a lot less easy to be subtle.

  4. Great post, makes me wonder if I should make note of these things for the days to come when I don’t remember. Though with a toddler who has days of feeding like a newborn I can’t see that being soon.

  5. The first time I fed in public was at a baby group and I used a cover (apron style that goes around your neck with a stiff part to let you still see the baby). It was awkward and still is whenever I try and use a cover, especially since my LO fusses with the fabric now.

    I’ve taken to wearing a large muslin like a scarf to just cover what I need to when LO comes off until I can get everything sorted out and to catch any leaks!

  6. My first quite a few times bf in public happened at the local bf clinic where we visited repeatedly as our son just wouldn’t latch (later found out that he had a tongue tie), I was amazed to see how many women there wanted to get the help from the hv’s and midwifes behind a room divider, breast feeding is the most natural thing a woman can do, the baby needs nutrition and we provide it, why hide it, especially in a place where everyone is learning the ropes? Be brave, don’t care a hoot what others think x

  7. I remember our NCT teacher saying how much we’d all appreciate having the others around when we were trying to get the hang of it – and how reassuring it was when we realised that within the first half hour of meeting up in a coffee shop we’d all flashed each other at least once! Nowadays it just feels so completely instinctive and normal to me I don’t really think twice about it!

  8. I love this post, Chloe! Especially the #awkward 3yo telling everybody about breastfeeding! I have one of those! I had a wonderful breastfeeding in public experience recently when on a bus. I was feeding Ophelia in a ring sling and when she’d finished and I’d tightened it up, an elderly lady said, “It is so lovely to see a woman breastfeeding.” Made me smile all day.

  9. Practice in places you know are not too busy like the local cafe or park or even your garden before going to busier places

  10. The first time I breastfed in public was at a baby group. I didn’t know anyone, it was my first time out the house alone and she was 2 weeks old. I felt pretty awkward, but now at 13 months, don’t even think twice about where or when.

  11. This reminded me of the first time I fed my boy in public, he was 3 days old, on a boat ride with my entire family! Uncomfortable!! But it does get easier and eventually you don’t even notice or care where you wip em out 🙂

  12. I’m a weirdo too! 🙂
    I think my top tip is to feed however you feel comfortable – boob up and over, two tops to cover up, scarf, nursing cover, whatever makes you feel relaxed in public.

  13. This is a great post!! I remember so many things about bfing, ad treasure each one. I, like you, smile at breastfeeding mums too, it’s something I love to see x

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