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‘Breastfeeding Friendly’ drives me MAD!

It’s not often I get agitated and I can usually be found sitting on the fence (I like to think it’s because I’m empathetic rather than apathetic) but occasionally, something comes along that makes my blood boil. And there’s one term at the moment that is really beginning to frustrate me: ‘breastfeeding friendly’. Let me explain…

I love breastfeeding Pickle. It certainly wasn’t easy to start with and there were a good couple of weeks where my anxiety levels went through the roof every time I noticed he was hungry. But now that we’ve got the hang of it, I bloody love it. I don’t stick to a feeding schedule, I just feed on demand, whenever and wherever that may be. Who knew I’d be so happy to whip my boob out in public? Certainly not me, but you know… when baby needs feeding, you gotta do what you gotta do.

breastfeeding in car

I’ve fed in the back seat or front seat of the car a fair few times when needed!

I don’t make a song and dance about it. I don’t draw attention to myself (I hope), and whilst I try to wear clothes that make boob access easy and as ‘discreet’ as possible it’s definitely for my benefit rather than worrying about offending anyone else. I don’t anxiously look around or care what other people are saying or thinking, I just feed my baby. Because that’s my job.

Recently, I saw a Facebook post where someone shared an app that recommends local ‘breastfeeding friendly’ places to go. I’d never realised until now that the term does my absolute nut in. As soon as I read it, I could feel my blood pressure rising. It reminded me of a similar post not too long ago when someone asked for a ‘breastfeeding friendly’ restaurant recommendation. It irked me a bit at the time but I couldn’t quite figure out why. I started to furiously type into my phone a response to this app that clearly stated how angry the term made me feel before I hurriedly deleted it not wanting to cause an uproar or upset. I know the person saying it was only trying to help other nursing Mums out and that my personal response was probably a bit weird and unnecessary but still… It annoyed me. Why? Because it implies there are places that are ‘breastfeeding UNfriendly’ and to me, that kind of insinuation is counter productive.

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Three months ago, if someone had told me ‘oh, these are the breastfeeding friendly places to go to’ it would have made me nervous. What if I accidentally fed in an UNfriendly place? What if I wasn’t near one of these designated friendly places and my baby needed feeding? What should I do? Risk the wrath of unfriendly staff and consumers and dare to bare the breast somewhere else? Would I have limited the places I ventured to? Would I have resorted to feeding in toilet cubicles or stinking baby change units? I hope not. But I can see how new, vulnerable Mums might feel that way. Or how apps like this might encourage different feeding behaviour. Of course, some might see it as positively encouraging (and I’m sure most do!) but it just doesn’t sit well with me. It sends the wrong message.

This app’s website says:

Can’t find a breastfeeding location? Why not add your own and share with the Feed-Finder community!

Erm… sorry? Find a breastfeeding location? Wherever the nearest chair is will do. Or even a bit of floor. I’ve fed on the floor before now.

Perhaps I’m one of the extremely lucky ones. I’ve never had an adverse reaction to breastfeeding. I’ve done it where and whenever I’ve needed to and I can honestly say I’ve never been made to feel uncomfortable, like an exhibitionist or embarrassed. We all know how natural breastfeeding is. It’s just one way of feeding your baby. It should be normal. It shouldn’t raise eyebrows at all.

If Mums really need an app to help them decide where to feed, why can’t it just be a ‘feeding’ app? Why can’t it apply to both breastfeeders and bottle feeders? Why can’t it just be about how good and clean the baby-change facilities are and whether the chairs are comfy enough to hold a baby for a prolonged period of time? Bottle feeders don’t need their own app, so why should breastfeeders? It just fuels the idea of a stigma around breastfeeding.

I don’t feel ‘special’ because I choose to breastfeed, I don’t think of myself as ‘better’ or holier than thou… I don’t think I’m challenging social conventions or being outlandish. I’m just feeding my baby. Like everyone else. And I don’t need an app to tell me where’s best to feed. I’ll do it wherever I please, or rather, wherever Pickle pleases, thank you very much.

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  • Reply Viv

    I hear you. There are some mums though who are quite fearful of feeding in public, the the ‘security blanket’ of knowing that an establishment is ‘breastfeeding friendly’ can help a great deal. But I think baby and child friendly would be sufficient, it doesn’t need to specific to breastfeeders x

    September 16, 2016 at 8:35 am
    • Reply Little Pickle's Mom

      Oh I am SO glad I’m not the only one who feels like this! Baby and child friendly all the way.

      September 16, 2016 at 8:43 am
  • Reply The Speed Bump

    Love this. I didn’t breastfeed beyond the first few days but even I get angry when I see “breastfeeding friendly” – EVERYWHERE should be breastfeeding friendly! Places should have to advertise if they’re breastfeeding UNfriendly so decent people know to avoid them!

    And definitely agree on the “feeding friendly” in general sentiment – suggestions of comfy places to sit and good cake during long bottle feeds out and about would have been a very welcome app when SB was still on bottles!

    Great post, I agree with you completely.

    September 16, 2016 at 9:00 am
  • Reply Alison Campbell

    I don’t have children but this really annoys me that people feel they have to advertise as being friendly. Surely you should be able to feed your little one anywhere zx

    September 16, 2016 at 9:08 am
  • Reply Sam Richardson

    I agree with you on just ‘baby and child friendly’ but for different reasons! Much like you, I feel my blood pressure rising whenever I see the term ‘breastfeeding’ at all! 100% my issue, but I wanted to with Noah, and couldn’t. Rational me is fine with this – I wanted to try, but if I’m honest I didn’t feel hugely strongly about it and I don’t have any issue with formula. However, the social pressure to breastfeed when pregnant, coupled with the only people I know who have had babies being successful at it has given me crippling mum guilt on plenty of occasions. When Noah was poorly and really struggling to feed at all, it was even implied (not to my face, but it got back to me!) that my inability to breastfeed him had caused it. I cannot explain how many tears I cried over that. Because being a mum often isn’t rational. When I am being rational, I know I have nothing but positive feeling towards breastfeeders – because I am so pleased they are having a positive experience with motherhood. It’s actually nothing to do with their feeding choice. I don’t feel it needs applauding, I feel that ALL need mothers need to know there is support out there no matter their circumstance or choice. Much as breastfeeding mum’s can find stigma and judgement in feeding, so do we formula mums – and THAT’S what makes my blood boil. No one has a right to judge. So I fully agree with you, baby and child friendly please! We are all in this together, I just wish the labels could stop

    Omg this has come off hugely ranty..sorry!

    September 16, 2016 at 9:08 am
    • Reply Little Pickle's Mom

      Right behind you, Sam! Although I do breastfeed, I’m very sensitive to the pressures of breastfeeding. My best friend underwent a double mastectomy before having her little girl and obviously couldn’t breastfeed. I hate the idea of anyone or anything making her feel anything but proud of herself and her amazing body.

      We all just do the best we can for our babies. However you birthed, however you feed, whether you sleep train or not… Routine or not… Attachment parenting or not. A child needs to be loved. That’s the only thing that matters. Everything else is detail.

      September 16, 2016 at 9:30 am
  • Reply Dean of Little Steps

    I totally understand why that app would rub you the wrong way. I’d feel the same if I had a baby and breastfeeding too.

    September 16, 2016 at 12:48 pm
  • Reply lynn @ More4mums

    Ooh I completely agree, I am a bit past Breastfeeding myself now but I never had an issue feeding anywhere. I did tend to look for a quiet corner of a cafe or restaurant but no more than that. I know these people think they are “helping” but what we need to do is normalise Breastfeeding anywhere it is needed. Good post.

    September 16, 2016 at 4:07 pm
  • Reply RachelSwirl

    I get why this annoys you, I think we just need to stop going on about the whole thing like it’s unusual. It seems people want attention drawn to it for some reason.

    September 16, 2016 at 6:02 pm
  • Reply Kara Guppy

    I can understand where you are coming from but I understand why the app would be popular. I breastfed all six of mine and sadly have come across people who were far from understanding (bear in mind my eldest is now 23). I have always been discreet, sat on the floor if need be and most people have been lovely, however there is also the single minded twollop who makes a fuss, makes rude comments etc and some women don’t know how to deal with them.
    I remember when feeding Sebby at a childrens birthday party when he was a couple of weeks old and was asked to feed him in the toilet. I was at that hormonal stage that I just wanted to cry, so a breastfeeding friendly place would have been idea for me

    September 16, 2016 at 9:26 pm
    • Reply Little Pickle's Mom

      Oh Kara, that’s awful – I’d have absolutely broken down in hysterics had that been me! What did you do? Some people deserve a smack in the face (and I’m generally not a violent person!).

      I think attitudes towards feeding have come on a LONG way recently although it means many women have been mistreated and treated badly for the breakthrough to happen. Thankfully I hear so many more positive stories now than negative ones.

      I just wish there wasn’t a need to discuss ‘breastfeeding friendly’ at all.

      September 16, 2016 at 11:03 pm
  • Reply Karen

    I never breast feed my girls but if I did I would of probably been like you, the thought of getting my boob out in public sound embarrassing but once that baby is here it all changes when they need feeding you need to do it not wonder round looking for somewhere

    September 16, 2016 at 11:13 pm
  • Reply Clairejustine

    I agree with you. Why would they make anywhere a designated places that is breastfeeding friendly!? Is it to drum up customers? Everywhere should be breast feeding or bottle feeding friendly!! Babies need feeding. I can see why this would upset 🙁

    September 17, 2016 at 9:46 pm
  • Reply Evelina

    I totally agree with you. Why would anyone had any problems with breastfeeding to start with?!

    September 19, 2016 at 6:52 pm
  • Reply Rachael C

    I know what you mean too and to be honest if I knew somewhere was UNfriendly I think I’d feed there too just to be annoying I fed my first anywhere and everywhere and I’m doing it now with my second. I’d much rather know if somewhere had good changing facilities and plenty of space for a pram rather than if they mind if I give my baby milk! xxx

    March 5, 2018 at 6:55 am
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