For many people, we never really encounter breastfeeding until we embark on the journey of motherhood. Maybe we saw a friend or relative breastfeeding once; maybe you were breastfed yourself; or maybe you just read a ton of books and have decided that when the baby comes you are going to breastfeed no matter what.
Then what? Then the baby comes and all hell breaks loose. The antenatal classes ended weeks ago. It’s just you, your partner and the baby. You are left holding a little precious, fragile thing and then you are expected to just get on with it. And the honest truth is that it’s not easy. At all.
For those of us who manage to leave the house in the first few weeks we have to contend with a baby who wants to be breastfed continuously. On the bus? In a cafe? In a shop? Everywhere. And so then the panic comes - can I really do this? Can I breastfeed in public? What if someone stares? What if the baby screams? What if someone tells me to cover up? Or even to leave? It can be overwhelming.
In the UK we have a serious issue. We are currently the worst country in the world for breastfeeding rates. Despite the law supporting breastfeeding in public and despite all the proven health benefits UK mothers still list embarrassment at breastfeeding in public as a major barrier. It’s in the top 4 reasons according to the NHS and UNICEF. Now, we admit there are a lot of barriers to breastfeeding. But embarrassment needn't be one of them.
Most of us who manage to breastfeed beyond 6 weeks find a way to muddle through and get on with it. We quickly get over the initial unease and realise it’s not so bad. We gain self confidence and feel empowered. We start to wear normal clothes again and simply adjust to our new realities. But along the way we’ve lost 99% of our fellow breastfeeding mothers. Because by the time UK babies reach the age of 6 months, only 1% are still being breastfed.
Now, we can’t do much to alleviate all the other reasons that a mother might give up breastfeeding, but we can make her more confident when breastfeeding in front of others. Because we’ve been there. We’ve been the mum breastfeeding in a public toilet because we were too embarrassed to feed in the restaurant. We’ve fumbled with bespoke nursing clothes with limited access while our babies voice their hunger very loudly! And we think that stinks. So we decided to do something about it. We designed a breastfeeding vest top that that empowers women to breastfeed confidently in public by keeping their tummy and boobs covered while wearing their favourite clothes. Because for us that’s what it’s all about - wearing your normal clothes, being a normal mum, and making breastfeeding normal.