Why I Sympathize With Kate Middleton's Public Breastfeeding PressureAlice Gomstyn
I’ve never been coy about the fact that I breastfeed my infant. I’ve written multiple posts on the subject, one of which even wound up — complete with a picture of a smiling me nursing Scrunchy Face—on The Huffington Post. (It was a proud moment: “Look ma, my shirt is hiked up on a national website!”)
But here’s why you might be tempted to label me a hypocrite: I rarely breastfeed in front of people who aren’t immediate family. The closest I’ve come to breastfeeding in public was when I did it in my car in a semi-deserted parking lot. If my baby is hungry and I have no choice but to feed him in a public place, of course I’ll do it — but it won’t be without some trepidation.
It’s not that I’m ashamed. I repeat: I am NOT ashamed. And I applaud the women who have no trouble breastfeeding out in the open, whether they use cover-ups or not. I applaud the women who think nothing of baring their chests while doing the important work of feeding their children.
But, me? I’m shy. I’m nervous. I worry that Scrunchy Face will get fussy about latching right away, and I’ll be stuck playing pin the boob on a 7-month-old for who knows how long. That’s just not a game I feel comfortable playing in public.
That Huffington Post photo? My mother took it after Scrunchy Face had latched and was going to town, with his balding head standing in the way of my chest getting real camera exposure.
That’s why I have some sympathy for Kate Middleton, who is now coming under pressure — in a British newspaper op-ed by TV presenter Beverly Turner — to “get her Royal orbs out” and feed her future child with a smile on her face while paparazzi snap away.
I agree that powerful women like the Duchess of Cambridge can help have a positive impact on breastfeeding. But if she’s not comfortable doing it in front of a camera-wielding public, perhaps there are alternatives? Couldn’t she talk about it? Write her own op-eds? Have the royal photographer take some shots of her nursing in a private setting and let her choose which ones she wants to release?
Side note: All this assumes that Middleton will breastfeed in the first place, which is no guarantee. I have to wonder how the very public pressure on Middleton makes women who couldn’t breastfeed at all feel. Check out what my fellow Babble blogger Heather Spohr told ABC News on the issue here.
There’s a good chance I’m taking Turner’s recommendation too literally and that she’d be happy to see Middleton take the steps I suggest above. And maybe someday I’ll stop being so self-conscious and join other nursing mamas doing their thing in the park, the grocery store and the mall.
For now, I’m just grateful that my own orbs aren’t royal. God save the (future) Queen’s.
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Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.