This Breastfeeding Mum Did Not Expect This From A Stranger
The woman was handed a note as she breastfed her baby.
A woman has posted an emotional message to Facebook after her breastfeeding sister was handed a note by a complete stranger last Friday.
Vicky Garner, 36, was full of praise following the encounter at Swindon Outlet mall, saying the stranger had "made such a difference" to her baby sister's day.
The note reads: "Thank you for breastfeeding in public. As well as giving your child the best start in life, you are helping to normalise breastfeeding and make other breastfeeding mums feel more comfortable to do the same."
"Please pass this card onto the next mum you see breastfeeding in public to help spread the message."
Vicky spoke of how touched she was by the kind stranger's gesture, saying, "I'm a midwife and supported my sister through labour with her husband. I also stayed with her for a few days at the start to support them both in the early stages, particularly with breastfeeding."
"Not only am I passionate about breastfeeding because I'm a midwife but also because I breastfed my own daughter when I had her aged 19."
"I didn't often feed in public. I would time my outings in between feeds. I wasn't embarrassed, I just wanted privacy and I was not sure how I would handle a challenging situation despite being an assertive individual."
"Friends my age were not parents and so I couldn't draw the support from them. In terms of peer support, what I had was negligible, though my midwife and health visitor were very encouraging and gave excellent positive support."
Vicky's sister, Christina Cage, 33, was out shopping with her husband, Tom, and their 7-week-old daughter, Liesel, and says this occasion was the first time she had not used a cover to feed in public.
She said, "Another mum who was shopping with her two children approached us, smiled and handed me the card. I had expected someone approaching me whilst breastfeeding to perhaps be negative, so I was so pleased and touched that another mum was so positive about me feeding and nurturing my little girl."
"I went from being slightly self-aware to wanting to burst with pride for providing my daughter with food and sustenance without being made to feel embarrassed or ashamed. It really made my day."
Vicky's post was shared hundreds of times, with Facebook users praising the thoughtfulness of the act and lamenting the fact that many mums still meet with disapproval for feeding their babies in public spaces.
Joanna Higginson, from Plymouth, gushed "Love, love, LOVE this, especially after I got some funny looks yesterday from some old dears."
Reflecting further on her negative experience, Joanna said, "They didn't say anything, just gave a disapproving look. I thought I was quite hard but it made me feel uncomfortable."
Christina says that she is "thrilled" the post has been shared so many times and reached so many people.
"For me, this whole experience has given me so much more confidence about breastfeeding in public which I think a lot of mums struggle with, fearing judgment or embarrassment."
"Thankfully, I haven't had any outwardly negative experiences of feeding in public. Even if I did now, I hope this positive experience would help me to not let any negative reactions impact my confidence or need to feed my daughter."
"Supporting breastfeeding mums encourages them to feed for longer, which is why breastfeeding support networks are such fantastic initiatives."
The post was shared to the Swindon Breastmates Facebook page prompting other mums who had given out the notes to come forward.
Andrea See, from Swindon and a mum to two daughters, said that she had given out four cards before, all of which she had been given by other mums.
Andrea, who describes the Swindon Outlet as breastfeeding-friendly, may even have been the woman who gave Vicky's sister her note.
She recalls that, "I saw a woman feeding a baby on the sofas near the food court, so I stopped to get my last card. I think I just said, "This is for you," nothing more, and didn't think anything more of it."
Kathryn Beale, a Nursing Bra Fitter and Postnatal Doula from Swindon, came forward as the original mum behind the paper trail, saying she was "so glad the cards seem to be having the effect" she was hoping for.
Kathryn first printed the cards in October 2014, and says that in the past she has given them out in Bristol and London as well as Swindon, with mums clearly appreciating the initiative.
After printing over 2000, which were sold at print price to local mums, she now has only 20 left.
She said, "I had the idea to make the cards after hearing about a lot of women who want to breastfed but feel worried about doing so in public. This may cause them to either avoid going out anywhere where there are no private places to feed, or else to avoid breastfeeding while out, which can cause problems for both mum and baby."
"Firstly, apart from a screaming baby, delayed feeds may cause blocked ducts or even mastitis. Secondly, worried mums may instead opt for bottles while out, which may have similar effects to delaying feeds, and can impact their supply, especially in the early weeks."
Vicky's post comes in the wake of divisive comments made by Jamie Oliver last week concerning breastfeeding.
The dad of four revealed his latest campaign was to be focused on fixing Britain's "problem" with breastfeeding, prompting an angry backlash.
"We have got a problem with it," the celebrity chef told LBC Radio, "And if you think about it, breastfeeding is the beginning of the story - before school dinners, before sugar. It's something that's very natural to us - it's easy, it's more convenient, it's more nutritious, it's better, it's free."
"Data from breastfeeding tracks into all sorts of things from stunting, to obesity, to ill-health. We have the worst breastfeeding in the world."
Irate mums took issue with his comments, arguing that it was not his place to give opinions on women's choices, and risked making mums who were unable to breastfeed feel like failures, although he did draw support from other quarters.
Christina says that she is "baffled" at the backlash against Oliver, saying:
"Breastfeeding is a family issue. As a husband and father I can imagine he has seen his wife cope with the challenges of breastfeeding. Without my own husband's support it would have been a far greater struggle to establish and continue breastfeeding."
"Some women have a lot of pressure put on them to feed by the 'Breastapo'—a rather negative term I have heard recently—and if they are unable to the pressure can really affect their self-esteem."
"But with the right information, support and guidance, it can, and has for me, become a wonderful experience."
Midwife Vicky is also supportive of Oliver's comments, saying, "I feel very strongly that women who object to his 'interference' need to recoil! Breastfeeding is not a feminist crusade. It is in the interests of public health, something in which Jamie Oliver has a great deal of knowledge, achievement, credibility and influence."
"Anything that helps to promote breastfeeding positively should be embraced, not shot down. Fathers are parents too. Their support is invaluable."
"Nutritionally, breast is best. There are instances when breastfeeding is not appropriate in the interests of maternal and/or child health, but the vast majority of women are able to breastfeed. Support, encouragement and it being the social norm, which I don't think it is in the UK, are crucial to changing attitudes."
"If Jamie Oliver can shout from the rooftops about how amazing breastfeeding is, we should be giving him the ladder to get on that roof!"