The best way to boost the confidence of other breastfeeding mothers is to embrace breastfeeding, yourself.
Breastfeeding in public
If I could name all the places I’ve breastfed over the years, I’m pretty sure we’d be here for a while. Even though it took me until my third daughter to work out the whole breastfeeding thing, when I did – I did it anywhere and everywhere. I’m talking: on a bus, on a train, in a plane, in the front seat of my parked car, at a school music concert, in waiting rooms, at the park, at the library, in the chemist, in a sling whilst doing groceries, while doing yoga, at a family BBQ … I could go on, and on. (And on and on and on.)
Do you know what gave me the courage to breastfeed in public, without shame or fear? It was seeing other mums do it, too. Seeing other women breastfeed their little ones or their toddlers gave me the confidence to do the same and helped to remove some of the prevalent stigmas that sadly still exist.
A step in the right direction
All of these ad campaigns portray mums in realistic ways, doing the most natural thing they can for their little ones – feeding them at the breast. Breastfeeding is portrayed as a normal, everyday thing for women to do with their tiny humans, and I am feeling so encouraged.
So OK sure, the women in the ads are thin, gorgeous models – a far cry from the majority of women who breastfeed. But it’s a step in the right direction. Because the sooner women are made to feel as though their choice to nourish their baby or toddler at the breast is the most normal, boring choice they could make – the more likely they are to make it in the future.
What are some ways we can each help to normalise breastfeeding?
1. Ditch the breastfeeding cover
If in doubt, whip it out. Have the courage to breastfeed your child wherever you are, without thinking twice. There is no need to cover up; if other people don’t like what you are doing, they can avert their own eyes. If modesty is an issue, layer clothing with a breastfeeding singlet and a layer on top – that way the only space for skin to show is where the baby is latched.
2. Talk about breastfeeding more
The more mothers talk about the benefits of breastfeeding or how much they enjoyed it, the more likely other women will be encouraged to do the same. And yes, sometimes even talking about the hurdles that we overcame and the challenges we faced to breastfeed can help too – because it makes other mothers feel less alone.
3. Document your breastfeeding journey
Take photos of yourself feeding your little one, and share them. Every single time one mother sees another mother feeding her little one at the boob, I can tell you that she feels encouraged to do the same. Consider making a special photo book so you can share it with your child when they’re older and reminisce together.
In spite of the wonderfully positive ad campaigns by Aldi, Adidas and Sainsburys – we still have a way to go with normalising breastfeeding. Authors and illustrators in children’s books could do a lot to incorporate breastfeeding as a normal biological function in books, and ads could feature non-model women. But hey, it’s definitely a start.