The first few times of going out in public worried me with feeding as my own self confidence was not in the best place and I would also doubt myself and worry what other people may think or say. In my head I was worried that any place we went may say I could not feed baby and I would ask if breast feeding was allowed or not, apart from the obvious places like a hospital or the weigh ins. Even places like this in the beginning made me feel so uneasy, in the back of my head I was constantly thinking, what if I’m feeding her wrong? What are people going to think? Something that is meant to be so natural, felt so un-natural and made me constantly worry what others would think when out and about. I did not realise how easily accessible my boobs needed to be and what bra would be good to feed, I opted for the standard feeding bra, which I brought before having baby, which unclips and clips up again, which is meant to make it easier to feed. I found the bra would be quiet padded and would get in the way if folded over, when tucked in out the way it would hurt my boob and put extra pressure on, which was the last thing I wanted when they were already very tender and sore.
When feeding in public I would always try make sure there was not much for anyone else to see, and all they would see is baby cuddling in, which would leave me uncomfortable and never able to find a comfortable place. Though with my constant back pain, I could not sit directly square so had to lean to one side or another to shift the weight and pressure, which would ache other areas, especially my lower back. I still got the stomach pains as well which increased when feeding if I was getting a wave of pain at the time, which was more likely than not, with feeds increasing and becoming more frequent. I would constantly be worrying about everyone else being able to see more than even I wanted them too, I think it felt because I could see a fair amount from looking down, that this was the view for everybody else. Constantly asking my partner if anything was visible must of started to drive him insane as I always got the response that know one would be able to tell, which probably meant reassuringly every time, but I never took it this way and would constantly be worrying. I found myself the majority of the time looking down and trying to avoid eye contact with the constant fear and anxiety.
This anxiety and zero self confidence came into place as when you have a newborn you have all the excited people around you wanting to see the baby, normally before your mentally and sometimes physically ready. I think I could of very easily just crawled into a dark cave somewhere (obviously warm for the babies sake) and hidden there for awhile, but this was not quiet possible and the in-laws were due to visit. It is very easily understandable why the in-laws would want to visit, with wanting to see their son and new grandchild, I can imagine they were itching to come down as soon as possible. We had already delayed the meet by a few days so I had to try stamp on all my anxieties and worries and put a brave face on, not that I am convinced it showed. My partner and myself had arranged for them to come to our house for a bit and then to go out, mainly for the eldest to have something to do as well and not feel left out, it also kept giving me that shove to go outdoors more and not get sucked into the trap of hibernating at home.
Knowing that they were on there way brought the butterflies to the chest and constant worry about how the day would go and be. I knew that the baby fed quiet regularly, especially at that time of their first visit and I was getting anxious of having to feed in front of new people. I also had the worry of other people touching her, just this natural motherly fear but did not help with all the other emotions and fear going on in my head already. Both my partner and myself had also decided before baby was born that we were not going to kiss her for a couple of months due to the risk this could bring to the baby with neonatal herpes, so my partner had to explain this to his parents, which he admitted would be difficult – which brought extra worry. Once I heard their car pull up the extreme anxiety train arrived for my mind and I tried to keep calm and a smile on my face. As I struggled to get up I was hoping that no one would see me being rude not getting up to greet but I do not think I could of done quick enough anyway as my mobility was not the quickest at this stage. After all the formal greetings and a very excited eldest child the focus obviously went onto the new baby and wanting to hold her and say hello.
My partners dad had a hold to start with and I found it difficult to actually watch him hold her, mainly I think because I did not know my partners parents very well yet as everything my partner and myself had been through had been pretty quick so had not had the chance to get to know his parents as well as other people may of in this situation. The first meet was always going to be difficult so feeling insecure and strange was expected. After I hold my partners mum had a hold, which made me feel a bit more comfortable, probably because I felt a bit more relaxed around her but the baby started to become restless and start to get upset, snuffling around obviously searching for a breast. As she was not getting this she started to cry a bit and my partners dad said probably the worst thing he could of done at that point for myself which was, “It does not do the babies any harm to have a good cry” (something along those lines!). Now do not get me wrong, I know babies cry and I know there are times where there will be nothing I can do to stop her crying, but at that moment there was a reason for her crying and I knew why, as it was for a reason I could solve extremely quickly – which was for a feed. However because I felt so uncomfortable, I sat there feeling helpless and just hoping that someone would notice this, eventually after what felt like an entirely but was probably just minutes, my partner said something and baby was passed back to myself for a feed, which brought feeding in front of someone new into play.
At this point my breasts had already started to leak and becoming sore with picking up on the babies cries, so though I felt uncomfortable I found myself just getting on with feeding her and shutting everybody else out and focusing on the baby, which brought the crying to a stop and myself back to a bit of a happier place. We were all arranging to get ready to get in the car to our first destination once the baby had, had her feed as it was round her nap time so we thought attempting the car journey then would be a good idea. This was also good for me as it gave me a break, though it was painful in the car journey there, we went in separate cars to get there, which just gave me that little amount of head space which was nice, though I am pretty sure my partner and myself had a conversation on the way too, not that I would be able to remember that! (Sorry to my partner if it was ever anything on a serious note). Once we got to where we were going, it was the fun of getting the pushchair and everything together to get inside and settled. We had opted for climbing, more so for the eldest which my partner also did with her and with entering the building and checking in at the reception desk, I did check whether or not they minded me feeding the baby.
Obviously feeding was allowed, but I felt in my own mind I had to ask, probably insecurities as the last thing I would want is any confrontation whilst I was feeding her. Not that, that scenario would ever be highly likely but in my mind at the time I was so worried and anxious about most things that knowing it was OK meant I could put my mind slightly at ease should feeding be needed whilst we were there (with feeding being at her depend could be at any time!). Shortly after arriving, baby woke up and needed changing which was always a fun chore, as she never really enjoyed being changed when she was really young, not that I could blame her, all cosy warm and then put on a hard cold surface to be changed, I would probably protest too. I took her in the changing rooms and set about the task of getting her sorted and whilst doing this came across a few sores forming between the creases of her legs by her lady area, which until this point I had not noticed, but one side had slightly cracked and the other side was red and close to cracking. Obviously she was not impressed that I had to clean there but then I creamed her up too and got her all dressed and sorted and she seemed a lot happier with no surprise and then let the partner know how sore she had got (just so we could both keep an eye).
It was then time for the eldest and my partner to get ready for climbing, as much as I would of liked to of joined in, I was still far too sore in many areas so had to give it a miss this time round. I however found somewhere comfortable and sat down with our baby and gave her a fed that she was after. This time round, though I felt anxious as always I also felt a lot more comfortable as I knew not so many eyes were on me, as my partners dad and mum were too busy watching my eldest and partner, which gave me a bit of time relax and just enjoy being out for a change instead of afraid. I also found that faced with just my partners mum, I was not so anxious of feeding in front of her, as we chatted away and it never really felt like a problem or uncomfortable in anyway. It was nice to see the eldest climbing and having fun as up to this point it had been very focussed around her little sister, so it was just a nice moment for her too. After the climbing we had decided to all go for somewhere to eat, which ended up being Pizza Hut in the end once climbing had finished and we were ready to go.
Luckily Pizza Hut was not far from our current location so it was a quick fumble into the cars and a few minutes until we got out again. Again I asked at reception about feeding the baby and we all go seated and settled down, ordering food and waiting for it to arrive. At this point baby had wanted another feed already so naturally obliging a began to feed her and I started to feel more uneasy around my partners dad whilst feeding, he would divert eye contact away from myself and asked if she was having another feed already which almost made it feel more uncomfortable for me, as this made me question a lot of things in my already busy mind. Was I feeding her too much? Or did he find it difficult to be around? Should I go elsewhere to feed? Along with much more. Once food arrived I realised a problem with eating and feeding the baby, which was I only had one hand and needed two, to cut up and eat food. So for a few minutes I sat there like a bit of a lemon trying to come up with a solution and to my surprise after trying to get my partners attention a few times and failing, it was his dad that picked up on my struggles and offered to cut my food up. This gave us all a little chuckle and made things slightly relax, not massively but it was a welcome chuckle from the tension I felt. The rest of the time we were eating was a little bit of a blur, I know the baby fed for the majority and luckily the pain was something pushed to the back of my head with the company, though I know it would be there, the pain from feeding was not as bad as my back pain at that point.
After that I believe we all got ready and headed home, I cannot honestly remember if my partners parents came back to ours for a little bit or not at that point as I think I was physically and mentally exhausted, probably just waiting until I could get some sleep after what felt the longest day in awhile. It was nice to see his parents and get that dreaded first meet done and out the way, feeling not as bad as the day played out in my head leading up to it. Rest of the evening went back to the normal relaxing, trying to find a comfortable position, feeding the little one and watching television.
A little note on the situation
Having a couple of years to look back on how I felt and why it made me feel so anxious is with breast feeding being so new, I did not completely understand if I was doing it correct or not at this point and I would struggle with whether someone else would pick up I was feeding incorrectly. I was constantly worried of failing and letting the baby down and not giving her enough so there were so many insecurities pretty much about anything and everything I could make a situation out of. Though I also fed when doing weigh ins and pretty much where ever we had to go as it could be almost certain she would want a feed, going out in public like I would before having her, terrified me so going out the first time was always going to be difficult but I think this is all part of emotions as well as insecurities. For me, facing these insecurities no hard they felt or how bad I thought they could be, was the best way for me to deal with these and make myself face the world again rather than get comfortable locked away as this is too easy to do.