Breastfeeding on the bus.

February 25, 2010

I breastfed Rachel.

In those early months, demand breastfeeding is hardwork. I have had my waps out in just about every setting you can imagine. I have had em out in Tesco, I have had em out in the cafe at M+S, I occasionally had to feed her on the bus.  I fed her in the filing room at work, I fed her in the park. The alternative being the stomach churning shriek of a hungry infant.

I am quite a bolshy sort of a girl. I generally speak my mind, don’t suffer fools gladly, and react quite harhsly to what I ‘perceive’ as unfair criticism. If I had ever once, in those early months, had someone object to me feeding my baby, I think I would have curled up and cried.

Learning to get on with your day, with a baby who wants feeding almost constantly, is hard work. Getting used to being  sat with your milky boobs out, in public places. You miss being able to wear bras that aren’t stained, with flaps on them to allow a baby easy access. All of a sudden, the whole world feels qualified to offer you unsolicited ‘advice’ on the job that noone has trained you for. THis is all while suffering sleep deprivation, that if you were a prisoner of war, would trigger a letter writing campaign from amnesty.

I don’t think I have ever been more tired, or more vulnerable than in those early months.

It is a credit to the British public, and their attitude to breastfeeding, that I don’t recall a single incident where anyone  came out and told me to stop feeding my baby.

In fact, when I add up the cafes who cut up my food, the people who smiled in encouragement, the places that allowed me to sit there for an hour, with a glass of juice-while Rachel fed. I think we have a lot to be proud of.

Sod policies about encouraging breastfeeding, and discussion about whether discretion is appropriate. If you tell a mother feeding her baby, that you object. You are a bully. That is it. Plain and simple. No debate. End of.

And this bus driver should be ashamed of himself.



  1. What an enlightening article. It’s a fine thing that no mother has to justify breastfeeding in public. I wonder, though, since some people are painfully bashful and uncomfortable around percieved nudity, would you have more or less prohibition to breastfeed around strangers or around friends, if I may assume you know at least one person who might not know where to look when you wap it out.

    • When faced with a screaming infant, what I prefer doesn’t come into it. If someone doesn’t want to see, they don’t have to look-but quite honestly when you are trying to get a baby to latch on, and continue to feed- you don’t care. If they don’t know where to look they can leave- needs of 6 week old come before need of people who have problem. Breastfeeding has nothing to do with nudity.

  2. Never quite understood why nudity comes into it at all. There are coats and scarves and I strongly suspect that’s why shawls were invented. There’s not much need to do Jordan impressions in Tesco.

    • THe problem with the shawl thing, is the process of feeding relies on a lot of things. It’s not liek a baby drinking from a bottle, they need to be able to see you, and feel you, and they have to be able to regulate their body temperature while they feed. The let down that happens, which allows your baby to feel-works in very much the same way as any other arousal(in my opinion)- you need a lot of factors to come together for the let down to happen. This makes using a shawl etc quite hard. (Although you become quite smart about getting dressed-my own favourite was vest under my top, my top pulled up, and vest pulled down)- and once a baby has latched on- if you can see anything, I am surprised.
      Once you have hit 6-8 weeks- babies discover tricks- like causing a let down, as if they will feed- then chucking their heads back- so you are sat with your boob spraying milk- and no way of getting a baby to latch on.
      MOst feeding is discrete, but wanting to be discrete(and warm-Rachel was a winter baby) is not as easy as you would think sometimes. And at these times, I think the public just have to accept(and I have to say- I never got a comment) that that is part of feeding.
      I think the more people see it, the more they will understand it.

      Thanks very much for reading the blog though, and thanks for the comments!x

  3. never sure why this gets so socially complicated sometimes… baby hungry… feed baby… simples. Am glad to hear from your experience that this sort of behaviour is minority though

    • Before I fed Rachel- I thought it was complicated. Feeding a baby, teaches you that it isn’t. At all. Baby needs fed- feed baby. THat is it. Rest of debate- pointless.

  4. well said. The job of raising children is phenomenal beyond any reasoning, or anything that anyone ever taught us – which they didn’t!

    I have had some real up’s and downs as a result of parenting and it’s not over yet!!

    Good luck and I hope you get some sleep!


  5. Just to note that while incidents like this one do occur this one in particular didn’t actually happen.
    It doesn’t really come across in the linked article, but something which has been incredibly heartening about the follow up stories has been the driver’s refusal to frame the mother’s actions as anything other than a symptom of emotional upheaval and possible postnatal deppression.
    The papers clearly really want to present it as ‘wronged victim of attention seeking tart’ and he just won’t play along. Which is really gratifying given the – albeit absolutely understandable – abuse he received after the original story was published.

    • No, I found that out a couple of days later. I hadn’t had time to sort.
      Am trying to decide whether to knock the link out(at end of day can link to Jan Moir and make same point)- or accept that I wrote this before I found it out-and leave it to stand. Not sure really- might just leave this comments to do job! But yes, I absolutely take what you say on board. Have you got a link to the follow up(is ok will have a look).

  6. I even breast fed my daughter in the undertaker’s office whilst arranging my grandmother’s funeral. He gave me a queer look but said nothing 🙂

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