I’ve done it in a wood, a cinema, a park, a church (it's alright- the pope said it was allowed), numerous cafes, cars, a doctor's surgery, and a swimming pool reception area. Reactions have been varied but largely minimal compared to what I expected.
I’m talking about breastfeeding of course. And now, after 10 months, the end is in sight.
No more do I have to be concerned with flashing some flesh in someone's face. The bottle has been accepted (during the day anyway), I can drink again without (much) guilt, a bonfire is being prepared for the well-worn nursing bras and all is well in the world.
In the beginning I thought I'd give it a whirl and if it wasn't for me, I wouldn't feel bad about giving up. It hasn't been a stress-free ride, with some bumps along the road that I hadn't anticipated. In those first few days I was close to quitting but I'm proud to have stuck it out and reached my self-imposed goal of 6 months (the old competitive nature kicked in).
However my experience of breastfeeding has opened my eyes (as well as my top) to many varying attitudes. Little did I realise what a divisive and controversial issue it can be here in the western world, where covering up is key. Take Gwen Stefani for example. She posts this picture (below) on Twitter of her feeding her baby while on holiday and everyone goes mental. Has it really got to the stage that we are shocked that celebrities (those uber humans) nurse their babies just like the rest of us? I mean, don't they all have wet nurses for that?
As a society we have a funny old relationship with breastfeeding. On the one hand, medical professionals and NCT warriors are forcing the benefits of 'bfing' down our throats but in the other corner there are regular stories in the press about mums facing adverse reactions for getting them out in public. Take the recent Sports Direct debacle. So incensed were the breastfeeding mafia that one of theirs wasn't allowed to nurse in the store, that nationwide feeding sessions were organised in protest at branches across the country. Bravo I say. Though why anyone would want to go into Sports Direct, let alone feed your child in there is beyond me.
It seems there is not a week that goes by without some story in the media regarding breastfeeding. Outrage over bf selfies (which incidentally don't bother me. I've seen more nipples this year than The Sun's picture editor), or mothers being rebuked for nursing in public. Many people seem to be very uncomfortable with women using their breasticles for the purpose in which they were intended, which is why this tongue-in-cheek song from Australian band Sparrow Folk tickled me. It has since gone viral across the world.
As with everything, there are extremes at both ends of the booby spectrum. There are those that find it 'offensive' that women should use their mammaries as a food source (after all, they are there to make low cut tops look good). And then there's the militant pro-bfs, known as the 'breastapo' who celebrate boob-versaries, insist on feeding their newborn til teenhood and hold cake sales where you can buy specially iced buns (yup, really. See below).
The fact is a lot of unnecessary judgement goes on in both camps. Yes we all know how beneficial breastfeeding is for your child but those that can't or choose not to, should not be made to feel guilty for this. New mums have enough stuff to feel guilty about, trust me.
Both ways of feeding are littered with complications. For bfs, they face societal pressures to cover up and hide away, you never know how much the baby has had or if they are getting enough, mastitis becomes your biggest fear, engorgement and leaking are new uncomfortable issues to tackle and biting can become a problem later on.
While those that bottle feed face the difficulties of sterilising, contending with a screaming baby while the milk is warmed, counting ounces, and bottle storage.
Either way feeding a newborn is a nightmare and the truth is, no-one really knows what they are doing.
So to those that don't breastfeed, don't sweat it. It's not a detail that needs to be put on your CV and no-one questions whether the great world leaders and inventors were breastfed or not.
And those who do opt for the boob, great- hang on in there. Children are small for such a short period and what seem like massive problems now, get replaced as time moves on. Before you know it, they'll be 15, necking shots and chundering all over the new white carpet, while you'll be yearning for the time when the biggest dilemma was how to switch off 'Deal Or No Deal' with an infant glued to your tit and the remote control out of reach.