I’m writing this blog on the train on the way home from a very adventurous weekend away in Bath! I have a few stories to tell, so here we go, Part I – Breastfeeding Shame
My very best friend finished work for mat leave on Friday, and as I had the weekend off, we booked in a girly weekend. We live 4-5 hours away, so finding time to catch up is always tricky, but they are always my favourite weekends. We last saw each other in February, when our baby boy was just six weeks old, he is now seven months and has changed in lots of ways. I knew she would love to see him, so I started to plan how we could go about our trip.
I thought about driving, but it did concern me if James started to cry, it would both distract me, and stress me out if I wasn’t able to stop to see to him. I also didn’t like the idea of him being in a car seat for five hours.
I looked at trains, and thought if I could find a train with one change, I would be confident to take James on the train, I would be able to entertain him, feed him and I just thought it would be a lot less stressful. I found a train with one change and an open return ticket, so I booked it!
I have to admit, I was nervous about taking our boy on the train for so long. What if he screamed the whole way, it could turn into a disaster! We arrived at Chester and boarded the train, everything seemed to be going well. I had booked a table seat, and was pleased when my reserved seat was available (not always the case!). I sat down, and put a few bits on the table, a couple of toys, a bottle of water etc. I had a lovely chatty lady next to me and James was so well behaved, he really made me smile.
Of course the time came that James was hungry, I didn’t even think twice about it. In all my experience of breastfeeding I’ve had maybe two negative incidents that I can recall. Honestly, it’s second nature, hungry baby, latch them on, regardless of the location. The lady across from me, I couldn’t put my finger on why, but she just seemed in a bad mood. I wondered if it was because I had a baby on the train, or if it was because I had his toys out on the table. Either way, I wasn’t even remotely bothered. That was, until she stood up at her station, with her bag knocked everything off the table (without apologising) and proceeded to announce “That’s too much” as I was busy picking up the various bits and pieces from the floor. “What did she just say?” I wondered. I asked the lady next to me. She confirmed what she had said, and then it became clear, it was because I was feeding my son. I was stunned. Absolutely stunned. So much so, I forgot all my pre-planned come backs I’d thought of for these moments – but never needed to use. The only thing I could manage to say is “Rude!” At the stop of my voice!
I could not believe I was being shamed for feeding my son, would she have preferred me to let him cry the whole way? You really can’t see anything when I feed my son, he has a big head for one, he is not one of these babies that leaves your boob out in the open air, and on this occasion I was wearing a vest under my top, the one up, one down method. The top of the vest covered my chest, and his body covered the rest. There was a lot of young girls wearing a lot less than that, with more on show, on the same train.
I had no idea what I could do, there was no staff around on the train (but even if there was, what would they do?)
I really, truly thought we had turned a corner on the whole breastfeeding in public and normalising breastfeeding.
Professionals wonder why England have the lowest rates of breastfeeding, its attitudes that need to change, not Mums.