Feeding our babies in public….

Before having a baby I would have never thought about going topless on the beach or displaying my breasts in a public place. And yet only a few weeks after the birth of my son I have been able to shed all inhibitions and find myself getting my breasts out everywhere I go.

What are your thoughts on breast-feeding in public?

Since having my son, I have noticed three distinct types of women on the breast-feeding circuit. First, the ones I like to call “Earth Mothers” who have absolutely no inhibitions at all. They tend to ‘wear’ their babies rather than ‘push’ them around. Their babies wear cloth nappies and without wanting to generalize, will usually breast-feed their children past the age of one.  They feed their babies on the move, in cafes, restaurants, parks, festivals, just about anywhere and offer no discretion or cover whatsoever. I admire these women. To me, this looks like how it should be done. It shouldn’t be taboo. It shouldn’t be inappropriate. It shouldn’t make anyone uncomfortable.

The second type of women is probably the most common on the circuit – they are women who again will feed anywhere they go but they will usually cover themselves up with a muslin wrap or a scarf or something similar that falls from their shoulder and over their babies head.  I wonder at times whether this cloak of privacy is for their own comfort or for the comfort of those around them.  Either way, it seems to be the done thing.

The final type of woman comes in two very different packages.  The first are the mums who breast-feed comfortably at home but who will express a bottle before leaving home so that they don’t have to worry about public displays.  The second type of woman in this category is the woman that will actually get up and leave the table at a café to find somewhere private to feed their child.

Where do I sit amongst all of this?

Well … I move between the first and second type of women and only cover up when I feel it’s necessary or more comfortable for the other people around me. I certainly don’t cover up because it’s easier for me.

out at a cafe doing the polite cover up... half-heartedly I must admit.
Breakfast at a friends house.
sunset dinner by the beach... it was quite cool that evening so the wrap came in quite handy offering another layer of warmth
sunset dinner by the beach… it was quite cool that evening so the wrap came in quite handy offering another layer of warmth
A quick snack in the middle of town on a lonely patch of grass - we must have looked a little random.
A quick snack in the middle of town on a lonely patch of grass – we must have looked a little random.
feeding our babies and ourselves at a cafe
feeding our babies and ourselves at a cafe.

I love the ease of lifting my top and attaching my baby without any hesitation.  I love holding his little hand and watching his face as he drinks, his eyes on mine. Being all covered up makes all of this interaction more challenging and less enjoyable.

I would like to be more like the first group of women who just get on with the job, either unaware or unconcerned about the outside world.  Because really, what is all the fuss about anyway?

When I reflect on all of this I do ask myself sometimes why do I cover up?  Why do I feel as though it’s the ‘right’ thing to do? Is that how I have been conditioned and if so, by whom? Who sets these standards? Is it the media? Is it our friends and family?

Whoever it is, it doesn’t make sense. Why should a first world forward thinking country like ours have any concerns about feeding our children in the most natural way possible?  Why is it ‘polite’ to cover up in Australia?

Amongst mothers I think anything goes, there is no right way to do things and there certainly doesn’t seem to be any judgement of each other – in the playground, at playgroup, cafe’s… anything goes.

Each woman is on her own journey and must do whatever she finds the most comfortable.  If you have a breast feeding story that you would like to share or some thoughts on your own experiences, I would love to hear them.

Thanks for reading.

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3 Comments Add yours

  1. This is a topic very close to my own heart. I just wrote a little about my experiences awhile back here and about how we as mothers can normalize breastfeeding through our own actions: http://lightgreenmothering.com/2013/05/15/breast-anywhere-anytime/ I never really thought about what type of Breastfeeding mother I was going to be until I had my daughter and had to make that decision. My post explains more in detail the reasons I choose the way I did, but I don’t use a cover. I feed my baby whenever/wherever she needs fed. Every mother has the right to their own way of doing things:) It’s a sad world we live in when you can’t even feed your child without fear of what someone else is thinking of you. Great post, excited to read more<3

    1. maxiemama says:

      Thanks lightgreenmum, lovely to read your post too. I have found this to be a topic that passes the mind of all mothers at some time or another. We as women are so lucky to be able to give this gift to our babies, there is simply nothing better than a mothers milk so we should breast feed proudly!! Thanks for reading and I really appreciate you leaving a comment!

  2. Kylie Haliczenko says:

    Love reading your blogs Maxie Mama! You are so real and genuine! Such a breath of fresh air! I agree with all that you have said! It is up to the Mum and what she feels most comfortable with but certainly she shouldn’t cover up just for the sake if others! Xxxx

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