Breastfeeding in public


There’s a story doing the rounds today about a woman who says she was told to leave a leisure centre because she was breastfeeding in the swimming pool.

A journalist approached me for comment about it and was obviously hoping I would do a bit of shit stirring on the media’s behalf.

Did I think it was disgusting, the reporter asked, or was it a sign that the formula feeding crowd had gone too far in their message?

At the time i was busy trying to stop my toddler leaping into a lift on the third floor of Debenhams while singing twinkle twinkle little star at thw top of his lungs so in all honesty what little brain i had left was not exactly firing on all cylinders.

However – I am also a journalist (if not of that particular ilk) and so fortunately I recognize a leading question when I hear one. I said I needed to see the story first and would call back.

After a few missed calls and texts I actually got an email. I replied to that.

What do I think about this story?  I think parents should be able to feed their babies as and when they need to. It is sad that this lady experienced the disapproval and humiliation also faced by thousands of people when they get out a bottle of formula in a public place, I wrote.

I guess I’d make a rubbish troll because I never heard from the reporter again. it was an interesting little lesson in how easily you can become a caricature though – it still feels like a close shave.


Through the looking glass (yeah, did i mention I’m pregnant again?)

In about eight weeks time Baby Number 2 is due to make his grand entrance.

I am older, wider and a lot more exhausted this time around but at least I’m finally being treated like a grown-up.

Shall I tell you how many times a health professional has mentioned breastfeeding to me in the last 32 weeks?


When I first met my midwife, she asked how I was planning to feed the new baby. I said that I hadn’t been able to breastfeed last time around and would see how it went this time – but that I wouldn’t push myself to the brink of madness over it ever again.

I waited for the questions, the “did you try….?”, the deluge of leaflets, phone numbers and  “support group” meeting dates to rain down upon me. I braced myself for a lecture at the very least.

Nothing. The midwife just nodded and told me to roll up my sleeve for a blood test. I was actually stunned into silence – most unusually for me.

Last night I went to a “refresher course” for pregnant people who have already had kids.

What a strange bunch we were – this group of women from all walks of life, all with our different shaped bumps and swollen ankles, some supported by wary partners, others alone, with our handbags full of wetwipes and half eaten toddler snacks.

Breastfeeding was bound to come up, right?


“You can tell a first time mum anything and they’ll accept it, but you lot know the truth now,” the teacher began.

We’re through the looking glass now, I thought, looking around.

At the start we discussed our biggest fears.

Mine, i said, was not being listened to – again. Being told I wasn’t “really” in labour while the contractions came thick and fast, just four hours before my son was born, being told to “just keep trying” after days and days of not producing any milk and then getting shouted out for doing what I was told as his little body screamed for the food I didn’t have.

“They will listen to you now,” the teacher said.

“They just tend to think first time mums don’t know what they’re saying”.

It felt like that scene from V for Vendetta [SPOILER!] when Natalie Portman emerges from her horrible hostage experience only to find it was all just a set-up to make her more tough.

Not sure it was ever intended as a model for 21st century maternity care but it’s not exactly her fault.

What I learned from my own initiation to parenthood was not to trust anybody who claims to be an expert in the area.

That said….  if the pressure is indeed well and truly off, and I’m not going to be hit by a roller coaster of well-intentioned but ultimately useless and conflicting advice, it might just work out a bit better this time mightn’t it? Now there’s a thought.