Before I had kids, I used to look at moms covering themselves up as they breastfed their babies. Some would be completely uncomfortable while doing it and others could not be bothered. I didn’t quite understand what was going on at the time, so I didn’t think too much of it. Until I had my daughter.
Though I was nowhere close to being prepared for breastfeeding. I assumed it would come naturally, but it didn’t quite work out that way for me. I knew deep in heart that I wanted to breastfeed and I struggled through it the first few months until I was confident enough to head out in public with little one.
To be honest, I didn’t give it much thought. I was heading to the shops with my daughter and thought it was going to be epic. That was, until feeding time hit… I was in a restaurant and had just had a delicious lunch, so I thought it would be so much better to feed little one there before heading home to make the drive much easier (she’d take a peaceful nap).
“I believe that a fed baby is every mom’s goal regardless of how they choose to feed their babies; I also share the same sentiments about being given the freedom to feed our babies without feeling out of place and uncomfortable.”
Barely two minutes into the feeding, I was approached by one of the waitresses in the restaurant telling me that I don’t have to feed the baby in the restaurant and that I should go to one of the baby-changing rooms in the mall to feed my daughter. Her reasoning was that I’d be more comfortable, and I won’t have to deal with people staring at my breast while feeding my baby.
I didn’t know any better then, so I just stopped the feed and left the restaurant. To this day I regret allowing that to happen not only to me, but also my daughter. In my mind, my daughter was hungry so feeding her there and then was a no-brainer. After all, she also deserved to have her meal in a clean, comfortable place. Apparently, I was wrong.
Chances are the waitress thought she was doing the right thing, and the staff had probably always done this. But for me, that was the moment when those uncomfortable looks I’d seen on the faces of other breastfeeding moms before I had my daughter began to make sense. Breastfeeding in public was taboo back then, and I don’t imagine it was a conversation welcomed at the dinner table either.
Fast forward five years and I have another little one – a relaxed, but constantly hungry little one. I’m exclusively breastfeeding him and absolutely loving it. Sure, the journey has not always been rainbows and unicorns, but three months later we’re still at it. I’ve found my feet and voice as a mom and I refuse to be asked to feed my child in a bathroom or car simply because other people are uncomfortable. I strongly believe that if watching an infant eat/feed makes you uncomfortable, then you should look away just as you would when someone chews with their mouth open.
While I’m sad I did as the waitress suggested five years ago, I’m also quite grateful. It opened my eyes to a whole new world and made me a stronger and more resilient mom for my children. I believe that a fed baby is every mom’s goal regardless of how they choose to feed their babies; I also share the same sentiments about being given the freedom to feed our babies without feeling out of place and uncomfortable. This would go a long way to building a society that lifts others up instead of bringing them down.
It is also safe to say that I’ve never set foot in that restaurant again, mostly because I don’t want to spend my time and money at a place that won’t allow me to do the very thing that they do – feeding people (well in this case, feeding my child).
To the mom reading this who is anxious about breastfeeding in public, know that you are not alone and that you can do it. You are strong and in control of the situation. Sit back, relax and feed your child, mama, regardless of who is looking at you. After all, it’s your child’s right to eat whenever and wherever they need to be fed.
My name is Olerato Moiloa. I am a working mom with a 4-year-old little girl (Kamohelo) whom I call Kbear and another Little one on the way. During the day I work as an IT specialist and in the evenings, I am mostly Mom. In an attempt to find the *ME* in Mommy, I document my journey as I go through life exploring who I am as a Person, and how that affects my abilities as a Mother. All this I share on my blog Mommy and Baby Approved and through lifestyle videos blogs on my YouTube Channel.