I will pre-warn, this may be the longest post that I have ever written!
I’d like to start this post by firstly saying ‘I love boobies!’ A bit of strange start you might think, and something you hear from 4 kinds of people:
But I do! Since I began my breastfeeding journey, way back when time began, I have been a HUGE advocate of breastfeeding. I have joined an amazing and support group of ladies on FB (who seem to love boobies just as much as I do!) and fully encourage women to give it try. I never have foisted my opinions onto others and do not feel I am superior in the fact I am able to breastfeed successfully. If you knew the amount of work, tears, oat filled breakfasts and snacks along with the special rice puddings my mumma makes me when my supply drops, you may wonder why we do it at all (and there are some regular 2am moments when I ask myself the same question) And I really do question if the oats and extra calories work or if it just soothes me as a placebo affect but that’s a whole other post entirely…
So let’s start at the very beginning:
Husband and I had our first night out since having Peachy. She was safely ensconced with her grandparents for the evening who had planned all sorts of naughty treats for her (yes that’s right Nana and Grandad, she and the cat gave you up…) Husband and I dressed up, ready for a night of merriment and music and what might even constitute a date (cue dramatic music!)
I had already asked the venue if there was a place for me to express milk, I would not be able to go for more than a few hours without having to relief some of the pressure and milk build up. I was assured there would be facilities made available for me.
Arrival drinks, checking on Peachy, catching up with friends and making some new ones, checking on Peachy, sat for dinner, first course, checking on Peachy (see a theme emerging??) Somewhere between dessert and coffee, I whispered to Husband that I need to excuse myself to express.
Ever supportive, he came with me (which was great as I was in super high heels and teetering) holding my little dotty bag of expressing bits and bobs. I approached the bar staff, whom I had been told were aware there was a guest who required a private space. I discreetly asked if there was a lockable room I could use for a short period, and when asked what I needed it for – a look crossed between them. Now I express daily, many times a day when I am at work. It’s not discreet. It’s not generally dignified and it takes a lot of practice, patience and the occasional gritting of teeth when your breast hurts from being pulled and sucked by an artificial machine.
I was told that they didn’t really have anywhere but I could use the disabled toilet.
I glanced a look at Husband who dutifully informed them that it is illegal for a woman to express breastmilk in a public bathroom. He asked them how they would feel about having a meal prepared in a bathroom and why that would be okay for our daughter to have that treatment. And I have never been prouder. He was not rude. He did not raise his voice. He was not intimidating (at 6’4 he really is a gentle giant) but he was informed. He was unequivocal in his conviction – his wife would not be providing nutrition for our baby in a toilet.
Some murmurs were made, but I was given a little room, which was lockable but with a glass panel above the door, so darling Husband stood at the door, chatted away like this was normal whilst I pumped milk for Peachy trying desperately not to feel uncomfortable
For the first time, I began to understand how and why women give up feeding. You are made to feel uncomfortable, like you are doing something dirty or wrong. This is the most natural thing in the world. Women have breast fed for centuries. Technology has allowed women like me to still produce milk whilst I am away from my baby so I can continue to provide her the best nutrition and start in life that I feel is possible.
And two women made me feel awful about that.
But as I gather my thoughts, I say “boobs to that!” The media has sexualised breasts:
selling cars – use boobs
selling games – use boobs
selling homes – use boobs
So this Mumma will refuse to feel bad, I will refuse to be embarrassed, I will refuse to feel like I am doing something wrong.
And if you don’t like it – Boobs to you too!