Should Kate Middleton breastfeed in public?
Rates of breastfeeding in the UK are woefully low. Sigrid Daniel asks, should Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, breastfeed in public?
I am totally confident with baring my breasts in public – to feed a baby. Actually, I like to think that my “boobs” were at their best when full of milk for baby. Rounded, a double E cup, super cleavage when placed correctly in the nursing bra. Quite lovely. As all savvy breastfeeding mums know, an artfully placed shawl or baby carrier means that you are not baring anything at all.
Or so I’d like to think. The truth is that the topic of feeding babies arouses strong opinions in just about everyone, and as most new mums can attest, people are not shy about sharing those opinions.
With National Breastfeeding Awareness Week and all the talk about the Royal Baby, I read Beverly Turner’s thoughts in the Daily Telegraph on breastfeeding with more than passing interest.
Like many women, I have strong feelings about all the issues she raises – a lack of midwives to support new mothers in their efforts at breastfeeding; the isolation; no counsellors to help those mothers who are struggling with attachment issues, post natal depression or just feeling like it’s not for you. Turner also highlights the range of opinions and advice —as well as the looks and sometimes even criticism from passers by.
Turner talks about her inability to slow down as a new mother, and that this led her back to bottle feeding. The pressure to be back to “normal” meant that she didn’t breastfeed for as long as she had wanted. Clearly, she regrets this – and now she’d like the Duchess of Cambridge to publicly breastfeed so that we can increase the woeful rates of breastfeeding in this country.
I for one, would love Kate Middleton to feel comfortable nursing in public. However, it seems alien to me that women should not feel confident to breastfeed, and I struggle to take on board that rates in the UK show almost 50% of mums have given up breastfeeding by the 6/8 week check. And I’m left remembering how a dear friend looked at me, horror-struck as I calmly fed our first born over Sunday lunch at our house, and eventually managed to splutter, “You’re not going to do that in public are you?”. So, this feeling is more of the norm than I’d hoped.
Now, Mums who can’t or don’t want to breastfeed should not be made to feel worse by any of these efforts to increase awareness. But what needs to happen is a culture change that allows those of us who want to breastfeed to start feeding the way they want, and to continue – whether at the park, in a restaurant, or at work. It should be totally unacceptable for any Mum to be told “You can’t do that here” when breastfeeding. And Kate can be a part of that.
While most of us would probably draw the line at breastfeeding in sight of the Duke of Edinburgh, I’d like to challenge Kate Middleton to a little bit of modest feeding at times when she might just get photographed or seen. How about while out and about picking up extra nursery items at Peter Jones? Or calmly feeding while watching William play polo? Whilst she may not want to have been snapped topless in France last summer, the official portrait or pap shot of her feeding would show only a bare collarbone and a little cleavage, while the muslin square or shawl sits comfortably, protecting the royal bosom.
Wills and Kate have blazed a new trail in their relationship – with Wills marrying out of the aristocracy and even sharing a home with his beloved before marriage. Why shouldn’t Kate, with an artfully wrapped feeding shawl and expertly placed baby carrier, be able to take her newborn out with her, and feed the baby when and where she likes – if that is her choice? I’ll fly a flag for that! But I would never ask her to do it. Sometimes those tender moments deserve their privacy.
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