Something happened on the weekend that is still irritating me, still making me seethe every time I think of it. In the grander scheme of things, it’s seriously not that big or significant….but it’s really got under my skin.
My husband, baby and I were out for a brunch at a lovely little restaurant, when the little one started the hungry niggles. Now any Mama will tell you the hungry niggles can soon turn into the hungry wails, so it had to be attended to quickly! The restaurant was informal, and there were plenty of young families around with children and toddlers – a family friendly establishment. I whipped on my feeding cover, popped Hannah underneath, and voila – silence…apart from of course her happy glugging. I was completely covered, and to be fair the only thing that gave away the fact that I wasn’t a morbidly obese woman in a poncho and rather a breastfeeding mother were Hannah’s two little feet sticking out.
A few minutes later, a middle aged woman with her daughter (Id say early 30’s) came walking in to a table nearby. They both glared at me, gave me the up and down look and the mother shook her head in disgust, passed a comment to the daughter who looked equally disgusted – and sat down at their table where they continued to glare at me in between berating the poor waitress.
Now I’ve been breastfeeding my baby in all sorts of public situations in her 5 months earthside, and I have always been incredibly modest about it, and completely covered up. Not once have I received a dirty look, a comment, even a second glance from anyone, which has been fantastic!
I’ve always been particularly nervous of feeding around men, babies eating seems to make them look incredibly uncomfortable, but not once has any man ever said anything or even looked awkward. Never ever did I consider that my first run-in (even though it wasn’t really a run-in) with someone over my feeding would be with a woman, and honestly, I feel betrayed.
There’s supposed to be an unspoken support system between women, a circle of trust, a safe haven, a sisterhood, especially when it comes to babies and children. From my experience and that of others, regardless of whether you have five kids, or don’t have any or don’t want them, women bandy together to form a protective huddle against the outside world, but not this time.
This woman and her daughter broke that trust, they looked at me as if I was doing something dirty rather than something essential and beautiful and it cracked my confidence to its core.
I’ve been quite proud of the fact that I am still feeding my baby myself, especially when at 6 weeks both the paed and the nurses told me she was underweight and probably would need formula. Because it was important to me* that my child have breastmilk for as long as possible, I persisted, read a lot of articles, took a lot of supplements, made a lot of lactation cookies, and 4 months later my breastfed baby is happy and healthy and chubby. Breastfeeding to me is both my favourite, and most frustrating time of my day, I love the way my baby needs me, but because of her weight issues early on in life, combined with a bad case of reflux and a highly distractable baby, it’s also incredibly stressful.
It’s amazing how one dirty look can strip away all the joy, all the bonding feelings, and make me feel inadequate and dirty all in an instant. It boggles my mind that this came from a fellow mother, even if her daughter is twenty something years older than mine. The feeling of betrayal might be an overreaction, maybe something to do with the mushy hormone filled mom brain, but it’s still there. Maybe next time I’ll whip the cover off and really give her something to glare at.
*I am a firm believer that Fed is best, and am NOT bashing formula feeding in any way. It was just so important to me that I feed my child as a way to bond and give her as many nutrients and antibodies as possible that I was going to do anything in my power to make that happen.