Let's Stop Telling Breasfeeding Mothers To 'Cover Up'

Breastfeeding is a subject that is very close to my heart, so please excuse the rant filled blog post that you're about to read. 

I find it so disappointing that I'm even writing this and it baffles me that something so natural causes such a divide amongst people. Why are we pitting parents against each other by having the 'breast v bottle' debate. Why are we telling women to 'cover up'? Why do strangers get to put extra strain and stress on mothers when being a parent is hard enough as it is?

Recently, there has been a story that has become a topic for debate after an airline commented that they would ask a breastfeeding mum to cover up in case it made other passengers feel uncomfortable. 

I also recently, in response to the story, posted a photo on Instagram where I couldn't believe that it was even a thing. I couldn't put into enough words on one post, so I thought I'd try and tackle the issue in a blog post.

Flaunting it

One comment that seems to be recurring is that women just love to 'whip it out', which, for one thing is vile that people even think that women breastfeed for that reason, and two, why would a woman voluntarily go through all of the hardships that come with breastfeeding to 'whip it out' for the sake of others? Just a heads up, women don't do that

If you've followed my breastfeeding journey, you'll know that we had a very rough patch at the beginning. It was hard and gruelling, and I thought about giving up more times than I can count. For those reasons, I find it so incredibly offensive that people even think that women enjoy 'whipping a boob out'. I did not go through weeks of pain, bleeding nipples, engorgement and fears of breastfeeding in public, to have bystanders decide that they are offended by a baby being fed. 

As for people being offended by breastfeeding, you can bet that they aren't offended by looking at a breast in a sexual way, or even by being offended at looking at their own breasts (women are equally as guilty for breastfeeding shaming as men). I mean, I don't like looking at men walking down the street in summer with their tops off, but I wouldn't approach them and tell them to cover up. Why are women being told to cover up, when most women do keep covered when they are feeding their babies?

Fed is best

As much as I am an advocate for a happy mum is a happy baby, so ultimately the choice of how a mum feeds their child is entirely their choice, I am also of the opinion that when a mum is breastfeeding, we, as a society, shouldn't be trying to force expressing or covering up as an option as to not offend strangers. If a mum chooses to do those things, made from her own opinion, then that is absolutely great but let's stop telling mums that they have to express in the early days, unless they want to.

If a mum wants to breastfeed her child, brilliant. If she wants to combination feed, brilliant. If she wants to formula feed, brilliant. Let's get away from the idea that, us, as strangers, are allowed to have an opinion on how people feed their children. Again, if you've followed my journey, you'll know that I don't feel comfortable in having my whole breast out, but that doesn't mean to say that another mum isn't uncomfortable in doing that. Would that then give me the right to go up to her and ask her to cover up because I don't want to see her breast? Absolutely not, especially when I can just turn around and mind my own damn business. 

Breastfeeding in public worries

I was so incredibly nervous during my first time breastfeeding in public. I was convinced that everyone was looking at me, watching me, judging me. I had myself in such a faff with trying to put a muslin square over my head so as to not offend someone else, when in reality I should have been concentrating more on my hungry newborn baby, not caring about what someone else might think. I mean, that's just crazy isn't it? I ended up looking more ridiculous when faffing with the square, than I would have done just 'whipping it out'.

One of the best pieces of advice I had from one of my breastfeeding friends was that I was told to not think about anyone else in the room at the point of getting ready to feed. Concentrate on my hungry, wriggly baby and the rest would fall into place. So, if I can stress anything in this post, is to not let the thought of other people's opinions get in your way if you want to breastfeed. 

Also remember, that it is illegal for someone to discriminate against you, as a breastfeeding mum, if you're breastfeeding in public. A company or a person cannot ask you to leave, or to cover up if you are feeding in public in the UK. There are, of course, limitations to this but as a whole, it is illegal to be discriminated against under the Equality Act 2010 S.17(4).

I'll be honest and say that I could talk about breastfeeding until the cows come home (no milk-related pun intended), but it really does make me feel so cross sometimes that we can be so advanced in some ways with our opinions, but so backwards in many others. 

Have you ever experienced any negative behaviour when breastfeeding?

Thanks, lovelies.


1 comment

  1. I honestly still don't understand how in the year 2019 that this is even an issue. Like, that's WHAT THEY ARE THERE FOR.


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