The breastfeeding in public can of worms has been opened once again. So soon? Tis true. And, once again, it’s been opened by an undoubtedly well-intentioned older man daring to weigh in on the manner in which a woman used her mammories.
Last night radio presenter Steve Price was on Channel 10’s The Project seeking to explain a tweet he’d sent.
‘Discreet public breastfeeding no drama but walking through Qantas domestic!!’
The Project’s Carrie Bickmore was firm with her colleague who regularly co-hosts the show.
“Why Steve? Why?” she asked.
Steve was pretty unhappy. He doesn’t disapprove of breastfeeding. Indeed he’d sat in a meeting just a few weeks earlier whilst Carrie breastfed her baby. His wife breastfed their children. He doesn’t mind breastfeeding. But he does mind women breastfeeding whilst walking through airports.
Bickmore was quick to come back: “Why do women have to do it discreetly, what is your issue with it? And, just for your information, we feed where we want to, not where you want us too.”
Why can’t he discuss breastfeeding women?
“I mean, since when do breastfeeding mothers, are they a no-go zone?” Price asked. “I can comment on what I like, when I like and people can just go and jam it as far as I’m concerned.”
Poor Steve. He got fed up. He ought to ring David Koch and they can exchange notes on being at the centre of a breastfeeding mum storm of their own creation.
It’s just not fair, I can imagine Steve thinking. Why can’t he share a simple opinion on how mothers ought to breastfeed? Why doesn’t everyone agree that walking through an airport feeding a baby is strange? And unusual?
Allow me to explain. The answer is quite simple. The reason I’d suggest the mother was breastfeeding her baby whilst walking through the airport, is probably because her baby needed feeding.
I would also hazard a guess that she wasn’t waking through Qantas domestic simply for the fun of it. I’d guess she was either on her way to a flight, or making her way home from a flight. Or perhaps she was meeting her partner or her parents or her best friend who was arriving back from somewhere.
Whilst it’s true that some mothers with small babies will do anything to exit the home (I certainly did my best to conjure excuses to join the outside world) I am unconvinced that any parent would make their way to a metropolitan airport with a baby unless there was a reason for being there. (Beyond simply creating chaos for a radio shock jock).
Any parent that is venturing out to the airport merely to explore, may I suggest you try your local Westfield? They offer parking with pram spots and coffees generally cost less than the $7 charged at most airports.
But back to feeding. Babies feed at regular intervals, and to the great consternation of parents and Gina Ford devotees everywhere, these feeds cannot always be timed.
In an ideal world feeds might be provided in a comfortable position of the mother’s choosing, at intervals of the mother’s choosing, with a hot or cold drink of the mother’s choosing, with a massage therapist of the mother’s choosing to ease tension in the mother’s shoulders, and a small cheer squad of the mother’s choosing to remind the mother what a sterling job she’s doing.
In the real world, tragically, this very rarely occurs. (Unless perhaps you just had your first baby thirty seconds earlier and you are lucky enough to have legions of adoring grandparents, family members and friends eager to help).
There are a host of factors that explain when and how any mother feeds her baby. Conditions imposed by outsiders about what is appropriate and welcome are the least useful and least welcome. And yet, they abound.
For the overwhelming majority mums are just doing their very best to do what works best for them and for their baby. They are the two people who matter most in a mother-baby feeding situation.
Not another person’s sensibilities. Not another person’s idea of what is discreet and what is appropriate.
As Carrie said last night, mothers will feed how and when it suits them and their baby, not how and when it suits others. How super it would be if anyone considering advising breastfeeding mums about how/when/where they feed could use this as the litmus test?