Sleep Thief: Why we should all make a tit of ourselves…

Sleep Thief: Why we should all make a tit of ourselves…

I HAVE done it in a restaurant. I have done it on the beach. I have done it on an aeroplane….

In fact, I have got my boobs out in most public places.

Not for attention or for money; but, simply, because sometimes I need to use a breast for its actual purpose. To shut up … I mean feed, a baby.

This is not a good time for breastfeeding mothers.

The Anti-Breastfeeding in Public Mob have been out in full force.  Mothers have been vilified for feeding their babies in children’s swimming pools, supermarkets, town centres and museums. They have been asked to do the dirty deed in train cubicles or disabled loos.

2014 started with good news for breastfeeding mums.  Not only did model Gisele Bündchen show the world you can feed your child while having your hair and make up done (who knew?) but the Pope himself had spoken.

“If they are hungry, mothers, feed them, without thinking twice, because they are the most important people here.”

It is official. We can feed our babies in the Sistine Chapel – with actual God watching! So, surely, if it is good enough for God, it is good enough for shop assistants/train conductors/lifeguards etc?

But not for Delta Airlines, apparently, who ruined this good start to the year by telling Lindsay Jaynes that she could only feed her baby on a flight if she ‘covered up.’  I wonder whether they also asked passengers reading The Sun to cover up page three? Or do they believe that boobs displayed in a sexual way are more acceptable?  Do they really think people would be more comfortable sitting next to a man ogling a topless model, than a nursing mother?

The first time I breastfed away from the comfort of my own home, I grappled around under a big scarf trying to latch my daughter on to the nipple. The baby was not happy about this. I don’t blame her. If someone tried to smother me with a scarf while I ate my Sunday lunch, I would be hacked off too.  So I soon opted for the ‘whip it out and stick it in’ approach.  The whole process takes a couple of seconds and really, all there is to see is a baby’s head and half a cleavage.

The thing is – most breastfed babies feed on demand. This, essentially, means they could ask (scream) for milk anywhere at any time.  And as they use the breast for hunger, thirst and comfort, it is impossible to know EXACTLY when they are going to need your services. But, believe me, I would much rather breastfeed on my comfy sofa, with the aid of a specially designed V pillow, than hunched on the back of a bus or on a park bench.  So, you feed them just before you go out– in the hope it will tide them over for a while. And sometimes it does.  But more often than not, it doesn’t.  They will inevitably wait until you are on the motorway, about to eat dinner or at the supermarket checkout… Then, in a split second, your smiling bundle of joy becomes a monster, raging like a drunk at a bar refusing to accept last orders.

These days, getting out my feeding vessels on trains, planes, automobiles or anywhere else, doesn’t bother me at all.  And if I should, god forbid, inadvertently flash you a nipple, well I really don’t give a toss.

The thing is – even if you DO have a problem with a woman wearing a baby on one boob and clothing on the other, it really is a problem easily solved. DON’T LOOK.

BUT fear not breast feeders. I have a plan. I think the more women are seen breastfeeding in public, the sooner it will be accepted.  We are clearly being too subtle.  In other countries ‘breastfeeding in public’ is not even a phrase – it is simply ‘breastfeeding’.   Are we Brits too coy; too quick to hide under big scarves or hover in toilets?  Clearly, there are still many people in Great Britain who aren’t too bothered by boobs in newspapers, advertisements and on supermarket shelves. So maybe discretion is where we are going wrong.

Let’s leave no public place untouched. Make a tit of yourself in the library, the swimming pool, bus station, supermarket, the bank, the flipping Ritz!  Throw out the big scarf; squirt a stranger with your milky goodness. Whatever it takes…

Whip it out, stick it in and be proud.

Emily-Jane Clark

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