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Breastfeeding in public….where to look?
01 Jan 2014
by Rebecca Dutton
Rhea and Ellis

Rhea and Ellis

By J&PR director Rhea Alton

Breastfeeding is in the news again after a mum was asked by a train conductor to feed her child in the toilet.

And I can totally understand the mum being upset and her reasons for not wishing to feed her child in the tiny toilet compartment of a moving train.

But I also understand the possible awkward feeling the train conductor had when he came across a mum feeding – because until I became a mum I felt exactly the same.

Should I look? I might see my friend’s boob which would be a nightmare….but I cannot have a conversation while looking in the other direction. Should I make an excuse and just leave? How does she feel about me looking? Will she notice I cannot help but be drawn to what she is doing? Aaaaaaaah!!!!

I fed my son until he was 10 months old and my six week old is currently exclusively breast-fed too. I have fed him in a restaurant in Shrewsbury Town Centre, in cafes, in a doctors surgery, on grass verges and many more. In just six weeks. Why? Because when he is hungry and I am out and about there are two choices. Feed, or watch as everybody turns to see what I am doing to cause this tiny baby to scream so loudly that on occasions only dogs can tune in!

So, in answer to the questions I used to ask myself when others breastfed – you can look, that is definitely preferable to you looking in the other direction. Do I mind if you see my boob? No. At the moment it is the way I feed my baby so I don’t think of it as anything sexy or dirty….and if all is well you won’t be able to see anything anyway – it will be inside a tiny mouth! Feel free to make an excuse and leave if you are not comfortable, no breastfeeding mum wants to make anyone uncomfortable…if you ask us to leave that would upset us. How do I feel about you looking? One of my good friends once peered closer and said ‘gosh he feeds well’ – I have never been more comfortable.

And will I notice that you are drawn to what I’m doing? Of course. We are always mindful of people’s reactions and will do our best not to make you embarrassed, hence we are interested in your reaction, and we are used to all sorts!

All women feed in different ways, some cover up completely with a muslin or specially designed feeding ‘tent’ but some babies don’t like to have things on their heads. Some have nursing tops or dresses which make it very discreet but these are very expensive and are often saved for special occasions. Some layer up and pull up and pull down tops, which is one of the most popular ways to feed and some just pull down, pop out and carry on regardless – all only have the one aim of feeding their child.

I am a cross between a nursing clothes and pull up, pull down mum. And I am lucky enough to have found some amazing pieces of clothing that make me a happy feeding mum – and mean people rarely notice what I am doing.

One of these is the wonderful Hug from Turtle Doves which not only helps me be discreet while feeding in public but also gives me the wonderful feeling of being wrapped up with my newborn in a cosy little bundle of love!

And it keeps me warm! Any nursing mum will know it is difficult to source warm jumper-style items that you can feed easily in and often we are left a little chilly!

Because the Hug is not a specifically-designed nursing item it is a totally gorgeous fashion item worn by everyone and I was wearing one long before my newborn arrived. But now it doubles up as a feeding top and whenever I need to feed I can just unfold it and pop Ellis in the front where he is lovely and comfortable – and I stay lovely and warm.

My perfect place at the moment is in the garden when the sun has gone down and it is a little nippy, curled up on a chair with my baby and both of us wrapped in my Hug. And when the typical British weather returns it will once again become virtually attached to me – and hopefully help those of you not sure where to look to be as comfortable as I am!

J&PR are a Shropshire PR agency covering Shrewsbury, Telford, north Shropshire, south Shropshire and parts of Mid and North Wales. As well as working with businesses, organisations and events across the region on PR campaigns J&PR run regular DIY PR Training Courses and DIY Digital PR Training Courses at venues in the county.