Essentially, last week a mother was breastfeeding her 11 month old daughter whilst watching her older two boys swim at a public pool. She left in tears after staff insisted that she cover up, or go somewhere more secluded to nurse. Kochie weighed in on the topic, saying that this was "fair enough". He also said "I totally agree with breastfeeding in public but I think you have to be a bit classy about it". Breastfeeding mums rallied against Kochie and held a protest outside Sunrise yesterday morning.
It got me thinking about how often I get my boobs out. I sent Kochie a quick message on his Facebook wall yesterday.
To be honest, I get my boobs out all the time and I'm not that discrete, especially if I feel I'm in an area where it's appropriate, like a playground. It's not that I want anyone to look, it's just that I'm too busy making sure my toddler isn't getting into mischief to worry about covering up my baby. Lots of times I've had to get up in the middle of a breastfeed, with the baby still on, to run off after my little one cause someone has let them out of the enclosed play area (who does that! argh!).
It got a few likes, and few supporting comments. Kochie hasn't replied, but I suspect I wasn't the only mother that has messaged him in these last few days...
I nursed JJ until she was 23 months, although the majority of "public" breastfeeding was in her first year. Now I'm 4 months into breastfeeding Bee. For better or worse, my kids are both snackers. They nurse quickly, but frequently. When both JJ and and Bee were newborns, they were feeding about every hour during the day, for about 15 minutes or so each time. Now that Bee is 4 months old, she still feeds about every 1.5 - 2 hours*, but the duration is now only about 5 minutes. And I usually only feed on one side.
I've never tried to stretch the time between feeds for either of my kids. I've never tried to feed them more often either. I just feed them whenever they want it. Demand feeding. I see nursing as their food, their drinks, and their comfort. I don't deny them. I provide.
Nursing this often has some advantages. Firstly, it's wonderful for my milk supply. If ever a growth spurt increases demand, I just feed both sides and more often, perhaps every hour for that day, and my supply quickly catches up.
Secondly, because it is so quick, I feed whenever and wherever I am at the time. I have no idea in advance when I am going to nurse, because it totally depends on when Bee wakes from her sleeps, and when she is hungry, thirsty, or needing comfort.
Luckily Bee is an easy latcher, because often I am doing two things at once. I'm very often nursing Bee and cuddling JJ at the same time, in an attempt to fend off jealousy feelings that arise with a new sibling. I've been known to do other things whilst nursing, such as play puzzles with JJ, or get JJ a bottle of milk (again to fend off jealousy). Usually this is in the privacy of our own home, but sometimes it's out and about too. How do I explain to my toddler that it's not appropriate for her to cuddle me while I am breastfeeding, just because I happen to be out at a park? How do I not run after her if she gets within reach of a busy road whilst I'm feeding?
I do try to wear clothing that is breastfeeding friendly. Like the breastfeeding singlets that allow you to cover your tummy and just drop down the one side of the top. And my babies head covers most of the exposed boob.
I do try to turn my back to anyone (especially Kochie-aged men) who might be around. But I don't if it means I can't continue to supervise my older daughter at the same time.
Sometimes I cover up with a cloth, but rarely. Lately it's been too hot, even on a mild summer's early morning or late afternoon. And even when it is cool, I find that she gets distracted by the cloth and doesn't nurse. Which defeats the point really.
So in short, I put my children's needs over the potential embarrassment I might be causing someone else. And I will continue to do so. I have to. I'm a mum.
I'm not intentionally flashing my boobs. I don't get a kick out of people checking me out. Quite the opposite. I feel really unattractive at the moment, as I am still carrying 12kg of baby weight. My tummy is a mess of flabbiness and stretch marks, and my boobs are just that bit lower than where they should be. But I figure that no one is looking. No one wants to look. People can avert their gaze. And at the end of the day, I can't afford to be self-conscious, as I have two kids to look after who take up every ounce of me at the moment.
We are out and about because my toddler needs to run. My toddler needs to meet other kids her age at the park. My toddler needs to climb, dig in the sandpit and slide down the slippery dip. As a full time mum to both, I don't have the luxury of being able to stay at home with my nursing baby.
So Kochie, I understand why you said what you said. I do.
But can I put it to you - it's not that easy to be "discreet" all of the time. I do when I can. But I don't apologise for when I can't. All I am trying to do is provide for my kids the best I can, with a newborn and a toddler demanding more of me than what I would once have thought I was capable of providing.
And yes, if getting my boobs out is required, then that's what I have to do. And, unfortunately, you're just going to have to cope. Suck it up, princess.
* According to my Baby ESP monitoring system, this last month the average time between nursing sessions was 2 hours and 16 minutes, but the gaps between feeds are longer at night than they are during the day.
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