This article is directed towards those people who are offended when they see Mothers breastfeeding their children in public. I have been breastfeeding for nearly four years, and I have fed just about everywhere you can think of in public. From the supermarket, to the beach, to aeroplanes and restaurants, if you can take a child there, I have almost certainly fed my son there.
I have been really lucky that during this time, I have received very little negative attention and never once had anyone approach me and tell me to stop feeding my son, however, I know that there are plenty of mothers, some of my own friends included who have not been so lucky.
And so, if you have ever considered telling a Mother to stop feeding her child, or felt like it was your duty to make her stop what she was doing, I want to talk to you directly today.
Firstly, I want to explain that in England it is a Mothers legal right to feed her child anywhere in public. She is entitled to stop exactly where she is and feed her child (of any age) and she is protected by the law. There is no law that states she must wear a cover or move to a discreet place or a public toilet, she can feed any place, any time and she is within her rights to do so.
With that in mind, I want to talk about your reaction to seeing a breastfeeding Mother. If you feel disgusted or offended by witnessing a Mother feeding her child, if you feel like it is important that you tell a Mother to stop or to move because she is ruining your day with her actions, let me just give you this point to consider.
I don’t like it when people are smoking around me. I don’t like to breath in the smoke, I find the smell disgusting and I really don’t enjoy being around it. I actually used to smoke in my teens, but once I stopped I became very sensitive to the smell, and I just can’t stand being around people who are smoking.
In England, smokers are also protected by the law, and are entitled to smoke in public spaces if they are outside. This means that they can smoke in the town, at the park, on the beach or walking down the street and they are not breaking the law.
So when I see someone smoking in public, if I were to go up to them and say “You need to put that out, you are offending me and I am disgusted by what you are doing,” I would be the one in the wrong!
So what do I do? I decide not to sit near them, I choose somewhere else to stand, I walk further away and find a different spot. If it’s a friend, I wait until they have put out their cigarette before I go over to talk to them. It is as simple as that. It is my responsibility to take control of my own issues – I don’t like smoking, you’re a smoker, but you don’t have to quit because I don’t like it. That isn’t in my power to control. I don’t control the whole world, I can’t control other people. What I do control is myself and my actions. So if I don’t like what you’re doing, I can walk away – It’s that simple.
And it’s the same for breastfeeding.
You don’t have to like it. You don’t have to agree with it, you might think that my child is far too old to be doing it. That’s fine, you are entitled to your own opinion. But keep it in your head, because the moment you start voicing it, that becomes you infringing on my rights. And I get to feed my child wherever I want. You don’t have control of that situation. You may feel it is your duty to tell me where I’m going wrong, but as soon as you do, that is you breaking the law. That is you harassing me, someone who is doing something she is completely entitled to do, which is natural, necessary and which I deem as appropriate for my parenting journey.
You don’t get to have a say in that I’m afraid.
So the next time you feel like saying something negative to a breastfeeding Mother, turn around, walk away, turn a blind eye, and guess what? Her actions no longer affect you.
I hope you will consider this seriously, and I hope next time you want to voice an opinion on something which really doesn’t affect you, you will remember that it really isn’t important and you have the ability to control your actions and change your view. So close your mouth and walk away.
When in doubt, remember this: You don’t have to agree with me, but you don’t get to decide for me.
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