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To think that the media massively hypes up the 'breastfeeding in public' debate and that so much discussion over breastfeeding in public is actually a bad thing?

(57 Posts)
missmillimentscardigan Fri 04-Dec-15 17:31:17

I've just read this on the BBC website from yesterday:

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-leicestershire-34974989

It's about the case of the woman who lied about being asked to leave a Primark shop because she was breastfeeding her baby, and how it may be damaging for the 'pro-breastfeeding in public' debate.

Obviously what that woman did was awful in that it was lying, wasting police time, potentially very damaging for the business and individual employee she accused etc. But I find the idea of a breastfeeding 'movement', that may or may not be damaged by what she did, really unhelpful in terms of actually getting more women to feed in public.

Is it not the case that the vast majority of women just get on with breastfeeding, discreetly and without fuss, wherever they need to? And women are discreet not because it's offensive, but because they don't want to have their entire breast on display. Even the photo on this article is misrepresentative (I feel), as the woman in the photo seems to have most of her breast exposed while feeding, something I never needed to do, nor seen anyone else do, outside of a post-natal ward. And the survey quoted that 49% of people think it's unacceptable to breastfeed on public transport. Who are the people being surveyed? I doubt the majority of people would even be aware of someone breastfeeding on a bus or a train, and why would they care if they did realise? I genuinely do not understand how anyone could have a problem with it.

Obviously there are cases where women are discriminated against for breastfeeding in public and that is unacceptable, but aibu to suggest that these cases are extremely rare and that they always seem to occur when someone is breastfeeding in what seems to me like a bit of a weird place, like the middle of a sports shop or at a swimming pool.

I don't claim to be representative of all breastfeeding mothers of course, but I breastfed my first child in all sorts of places and am currently feeding my second. I have never encountered any negative comments when breastfeeding or been aware of people finding me unacceptable etc. I would definitely give someone a piece of my mind if they did criticise me and I hope that if someone not sure about breastfeeding in public saw me feeding then they might realise it's not a big deal.

Terms like the 'breastapo' and the implication that you need to be some kind of Earth mother (whatever that is) to breastfeed in public are just ridiculous and offensive. Surely the overwhelming majority of breastfeeding women and just getting on with their lives and feeding their child, rather than being part of a 'movement'?

It's just the fact that this article is on the BBC website, as news. So, if you've read all this, AIBU for thinking this 'breastfeeding movement' and articles like this are misrepresentative of actual life and are likely to reduce the number of women who breastfeed, rather than make women feel more comfortable?

Owllady Fri 04-Dec-15 17:39:11

She'd already complained it had happened at her local swimming pool too, it comes up if you Google search her name <miss marple>

The only hostility I received was off my MIL grin

VestalVirgin Fri 04-Dec-15 17:43:43

Whenever a woman identifies and lives as a human being, she is part of a movement.

Say something that makes you different from a doormat and you are a feminist.
Just do what needs done and breastfeed your baby, and you're part of the "breastfeeding movement".

For women, to behave like human beings with actual needs and feelings, is an act of rebellion and as thus, worthy of media discussion.

I don't know if women would just breastfeed in public by default if there was no public discussion. If that were to be the case, I agree that less debate would be a good thing.

But some women seem to be very willing to go to great lengths to submit to societal expectations, so ... not sure if not debating it at all would help.

strawberryandaflake Fri 04-Dec-15 17:45:02

I don't want to breastfeed in public. I don't want to see others doing it either, but it's everyone's choice. The more people write about it on the Internet the more the press will treat it as a hot topic and it will become a debate. It's not a debate, it's down to the individual mother/shop owner/ restaurant and what they feel is right for them. Don't encourage any more discussion.

Boomerangs Fri 04-Dec-15 17:48:35

Totally agree with op. Creating such a big hoo ha really makes a big deal out of something that shouldn't be. I think people are put off breastfeeding because they think they will face negativity which is tragic. I have breastfed my daughter wherever she has needed it only the other day I sat on chairs outside a John Lewis changing room. When she was first born I wasn't that confident and used a feeding apron when out but now I don't and if anyone said something to me they would wish they hadn't!

ShebaShimmyShake Fri 04-Dec-15 17:54:45

The media hypes it up because it will hype up anything to do with boobs. Don't imagine the BBC is above this.

Bambambini Fri 04-Dec-15 18:02:10

The likes of the mail likes to hype it up because it is anti women and knows it will gain a lot of frothing and comments. Much like it's articles on false rape accusations and women taking husbands to court for divorce settlements.

Counttheshadows Fri 04-Dec-15 18:19:11

I agree. I was put off about bf in public due to all the media hype etc. It made me too nervous to bf in public incase of any negativity, so I always take ebm out with me instead.

hackmum Fri 04-Dec-15 18:23:04

Agree completely, OP. I breastfed in public, not because I was a member of the "breastapo" but because my baby was hungry. Nobody ever complained or was rude to me, and the only two comments I had were (separately) from two old women who said how nice it was to see someone breastfeeding.

You also happen to have touched on a hobbyhorse of mine - the choice of breastfeeding pics in news stories. I just wish they'd show women feeding while fully clothed, and not making a big deal of it, rather than exposing their whole breasts or wearing a nightie and looking earth motherish.

Bavmorda Fri 04-Dec-15 18:23:30

I did the jumper-up, vest down thing so you can't see any flesh at all - does that count as offensive? I didn't have any complaints with DS but was always anticipating it and I'm due another in January...

BondJayneBond Fri 04-Dec-15 18:27:15

I agree stories like this can put women off.

I was initially very nervy about breastfeeding DS2 in public, because of similar articles making me feel that public breastfeeding was viewed very negatively.

But in reality, once I'd breastfed in public a few times, I realised that the vast majority of people either don't even notice or just don't give a damn. I've never had a single negative comment in real life when breastfeeding DS2 in public.

StellaAlpina Fri 04-Dec-15 18:30:56

It's not actually down to the individual shop/restaurant owner...legally it is sex discrimination for service providers to treat a woman less favourably (ie ask them to leave) because she is breastfeeding.

I'm not sure what the answer is, I'm planning to breastfeed and would have done so regardless of debate/nhs inormation leaflets etc. but that's because in RL almost all of the women I have known have breastfeed (older generations too) but for women with less RL experience of breastfeeding I don't know if the debate is more likely to make them think "actually I might give this a try" or make them more apprehensive.

BondJayneBond Fri 04-Dec-15 18:31:38

It's not a debate, it's down to the individual mother/shop owner/ restaurant and what they feel is right for them.

Sorry, but that's wrong. The right of a mother to breastfeed in public is protected in law. The opinions and feelings of the shop owner / restaurant do not supersede this - they cannot legally ask a woman to stop breastfeeding in their premises because they feel it "isn't right for them".

WhetherOrNot Fri 04-Dec-15 18:41:13

Sorry, but that's wrong. The right of a mother to breastfeed in public is protected in law. The opinions and feelings of the shop owner / restaurant do not supersede this - they cannot legally ask a woman to stop breastfeeding in their premises because they feel it "isn't right for them".

Once 'the law' stepped in, that is where everything went wrong IMO.

StellaAlpina Fri 04-Dec-15 18:50:36

What do you mean "WhetherOrNot"?
How would things be better if women could be legally chucked out of Costa/Pizza Hut/the bus for breastfeeding?

BogusCatAndTheFuzz Fri 04-Dec-15 18:52:49

It took me hmmmm 20-30 minutes to realise the very cute baby & mum I was smiling at in a coffee shop recently were/ was being breastfed. Only when I reflected on it did I realise that yes I did see a flash of flesh but I really had to think hard about it. ( I was staring, s/he was very cute) My main memory was envy of of a cute snuggliy baby who was happy in his/her Mums arms.

I think that's the norm. Most people don't realise they've seen breast feeding.

AnnaMarlowe Fri 04-Dec-15 18:59:33

I breastfed twins. Exclusively, for over a year.

So I was feeding a lot. grin

I fed everywhere. Cafes, the library, on trains, in car parks, in shops, supermarkets and shopping malls, in parks, in restaurants, in the swimming pool changing room, in museums and art galleries, on boats, at my work place, in church.

No one ever said anything negative. Or even close to negative.

One chap looked rather uncomfortable when he realised he's been sitting next to a breastfeeding woman for 30 mins but he only noticed when I switched babies. I suspect he felt that I might be embarrassed (he was sitting quite close) rather than being actively bothered by it though. I just gave him a nice smile and he relaxed.

I think that lots of nice, relaxed positive images of breastfeeding (in film and tv) would be great. Not making the storyline about breastfeed, just showing it as an incidental, not worth commenting on.

goodnessgraciousgoudaoriginal Fri 04-Dec-15 19:02:15

OP - I think you are sort of right. In all honesty, I think the majority of women are discreet when feeding (eg, not simply whacking out an entire boob, or stripping off half their top half), and therefore the vast majority of women don't get any flack for feeding in public.

I don't think people actively go around LOOKING for feeding women in order to get annoyed about it. If someone can work out someone is feeding, but can't actually see anything....in all honesty I think 99.999% of people wouldn't care.

I think the irritation or comments come when someone really does have their entire boob hanging out, or there is more obvious nudity.

Personally I don't understand why any one side is more right than the other. Every woman has the right to breast feed in public, but that doesn't mean she shouldn't make any effort to be respectful of people around her as well. That seems to be the bit of the argument that the more strident breast feeding parade don't agree with.

M48294Y Fri 04-Dec-15 19:03:51

I breastfed for two years (two babies, one year each) absolutely when out and about (I never pumped and took a bottle) and never had any bother, a comment or a raised eyebrw. But I do live in London.

M48294Y Fri 04-Dec-15 19:06:19

I often gradually realise people are breastfeeding near me and I come over all soppy about it. Have to resist the temptation to ask to stroke that soft little head (yes, I am one of those mad old ladies)

AnnaMarlowe Fri 04-Dec-15 19:18:53

The thing about people who say that they are "uncomfortable with it" is it's often down to unfamiliarity.

My PILs weren't keen (mil didn't FB). My fil especially was deeply uncomfortable.

My own Dad, Uncle and male cousins didn't bat an eyelid - my DM and DAunt both BF.

My FIL got over it. He got used to it.

If he wanted to see his grandchildren or have us visit then breastfeeding was part of the deal.

It quickly became 'normal' to him either that or he got fed up of sitting in the kitchen.

HackerFucker22 Fri 04-Dec-15 19:25:25

I fed my baby in middle of a very busy (central London) Pizza Express earlier and had anyone questioned me then they would have been handed my screaming baby and told to feed her -- I jest but you get my point--

I prefer not to feed my baby in public at the moment as she is going through a phase of being very fussy on boob [10 months, teething and well into weaning but still feeding regularly day and night] so I may expose a little more flesh than usual.

To me feeding my baby and thus settling her / keeping her quiet is most important thing.

WhetherOrNot Fri 04-Dec-15 19:32:23

What do you mean "WhetherOrNot"? How would things be better if women could be legally chucked out of Costa/Pizza Hut/the bus for breastfeeding?

Because 'the law' is saying that one half of the population's preference is being ignored. YOU might like 'the law', but what about the people who don't?

MrsBartlettforthewin Fri 04-Dec-15 19:43:51

WheatherorNot so what if there are people who don't like the law. I'm sure there are plenty of people out there who don't like lots of law like not being able to shout racist abuse at people doesn't mean we shouldn't have the law.

AnnaMarlowe Fri 04-Dec-15 19:44:21

WhetherOr but women have been breastfeeding in public for about 200,000 years - it's not a 'lifestyle choice' it's the way nature designed for babies to be fed.

Do you find puppies or calves feeding offensive?

'The law' supports breastfeeding because it would be better for society as a whole if more people breastfed. That's not judgement on women who ff but it is nevertheless true.

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