last three pictures by Imogen PettittSo before I right this post a little background information:
The response in my opinion was perfect, they admitted their fault and apologised for the offence caused (although the verbal attack by the woman in the sports car has still not been resolved). The incident as upsetting as it was for Kelly really highlighted breastfeeding and was great to see how much support there was for it in the city.
Despite being an open group there has only been three trolls on the Event page with the usual ignorant statements, likening breastfeeding to a man flashing his private parts and other such stupidities mainly written to cause a reaction I'm sure.
There were times leading up to the event where I was concerned the focus of the event may stray off track. I was anxious that anyone should try and turn it into a bottle vs breast argument which I am not comfortable with. I have written before about struggling with breastfeeding in the first few weeks of Wilf's life. I have a few friends that desperately wanted to breastfeed but were unable to, one of my friend's baby had severe tongue tie that wasn't corrected for four days meaning she had become dependant on drinking expressed milk out of bottle and was unable to go back to the breast even after the tie was corrected. My friend expressed for week upon week to ensure her baby got breast milk for those early weeks in her life, way longer than I would have managed to do I'm sure.
In those early weeks when I struggled so much with feeding Wilf, when it became too much and I was one more excruciating feed away from giving up altogether one of the things (apart from the fact I really really wanted to breastfeed) that made me keep at it was thinking 'what would people think of me?' and also 'what would my mum say??'. It may be the type of baby classes I go to (baby massage/baby yoga) but each one I've gone to when their baby was getting upset the woman would just swiftly lift up her top and breastfeed with ease and calm the baby instantly. I had wondered in those occasions what it would be like for me if I breastfeeding hadn't worked out for me, when my baby was crying and I would have to heat up a bottle somehow and how I would feel the odd one out. So the thought of making this any kind of argument of breast v bottle did worry me.
Luckily my worries were unfounded and it was anything but that. I would also like to state that I am a big supporter of breastfeeding, I love it and setting aside the health benefits I just love the emotional bond it gives me, the oxytocin it releases and the added bonus of burning so many calories I am back in my pre-pregnancy clothes in six months with no real effort. And of course I am 100% behind a woman's right to breastfeed where ever she needs to.
I remember the first time I breastfed in public, I had set out to breastfeed in public before this occasion but Wilf had slept the entire time we were out and I remember getting home feeling so relieved I hadn't had to do it. It was such a big deal at the time (which feels so strange to me now!) I remember emailing my NCT friends and telling them how worried I was about it, about exposing myself, about not getting the latch right and Wilf yelling and drawing attention to me. Of course it was fine, no one batted an eyelid and I wore a pashmina which covered everything. I used that pashmina for a good month I think before I got my confidence up. I remember in that first month discovering the nursing rooms in our local shopping centre and being so excited that I could go and feed in private here..that thought also seems bizarre to me now..feeding my baby next to a toilet??
I am grateful I have never had a bad experience breastfeeding, I doubt most people even notice in all honestly. I have had a couple of comments in the past six months, mainly from old women telling me what a lovely thing it was and how they miss it! A woman wrote on the Facebook page for this event that 'this is exactly why I didn't breastfeed' when prompted she explained that she meant she hadn't breastfed her babies for fear of something like this happening to her. Hearing that made me feel incredibly sad, that the thought of people persecuted her for feeding her baby how she chose in public stopped her from breastfeeding and is exactly why doing something like this is important.
What I loved about this protest was that it was essentially mums (and a few dads!) uniting in solidarity for a fellow mother that had felt persecuted for how she was feeding her baby. There was an air of openness and friendliness and every so often you would bump into someone you had met whilst both pregnant and have a quick catch up. Sitting opposite another mother feeding her baby and striking up conversation as there was the common ground of solidarity for all mothers. I was asked a couple of questions by a reporter about why I had come along and I her told her that it was about 'supporting a mothers right to feed her baby in anyway she chooses' and I'm so glad that was the way it turned out. I am really proud to have been part of this event today, I hope to feed Wilf long into the future (y'know so I can eat as much cake as I like for a good while longer) and I'm very glad I am protected by the law to feed him wherever I need to..and that I know if anyone gives me a hard time for that I've got a large amount of women who have got my back!