Monday 27 February 2012

Breastfeeding Rooms - Why Do We Need Them?

I will be sponsoring the Breastfeeding Room at the Sussex Baby & Toddler Show in Hastings on March 10th at The Hastings Centre.  This will be the first time I have sponsored a breastfeeding room and so I have asked around to find out what has been lacking and what people feel should be available in a breastfeeding room. 

As with the majority of breastfeeding questions, there have been an assortment of responses. There are some women that feel there is no place for a breastfeeding room because we should proudly breastfeed in public.

While I agree that women breastfeeding in public protected by law, and I am very happy to breastfeed ANYWHERE!  I do understand the need for women to be able to remove themselves from a public place to feed their child if they so wish.  There are many reasons a woman might want to feed in private and I'm sure we can all relate to many of these reasons -

1.  Maybe you just want to relax.

I visited the London Baby Show this weekend with Ellie in a sling.  We spent about an hour walking around the exhibits taking it all in, but after the train, the tube, the DLR and walking around the exhibit I just really wanted to sit down.  Ellie wanted to stretch her crawling legs too, and the most quiet, comfortable place to sit in the entire show was the breastfeeding room.  Look at these chairs, even the stools rocked.  I must admit, it wasn't the easiest place the find.  I think Tommee Tippee was sponsoring the "feeding area" and forgot to sign post the breastfeeding room.  It was hidden at the back behind the microwaves and bottle warmers.  I agree that they could have spent some time sprucing the place up.  But honestly, what else do you need?  I just fed Ellie and kicked back to listen to Annabel on stage probably standing close to her body guard (I didn't actually see her at this show, but did see her at Earls Court last year with what could only have been her body guard standing close by, serious expression, he didn't answer questions).  It was quite busy in the breastfeeding room, and Ellie was entertained for ages making new friends.

2.  Babies can be easily distracted as they get older.

We've all been there.  Baby gets to what? 3,4 months old and suddenly decides that they want to be involved with everything and everyone.  When baby starts pulling off the breast at the drop of a pin, this can be both a sore time for Mum and an embarrassing time for Mum.  Of course I have felt no embarrassment since the birth of my son in a room full of ten strangers, but I can definitely see how having your entire breast showing in public might be embarrassing especially if baby didn't tell you about it.  Yes, I'm thinking of you @Diaryofafirstchild in that lawyers office.  It happens to us all.  Sometimes during this very normal phase of development babies will feed a whole lot better when they are in a quiet, dimly lit room without distraction.  The feed is quicker, the exposure is reduced, and Mum stays sane.

3.  Maybe you just want to check out the breastfeeding facilities.

Yes, Mummies can be nosey too.  Just as I had to see the breastfeeding room at the London Baby Show, so I like to check out other such facilities in stores and shows.  Worst might have been a well known baby superstore in the US.  The store could be seen from my house, but when your 1 month old baby is hungry, you do not have time to waste.  I usually fed on the rockers at the back of the store, but the feeding room is at the front and I happened to be at the front.  The room was seperate from the toilets thankfully (they also have the worst toilet facilities in the modern world), but the room was a little grubby.  The room was dimly lit, but I think this was only because the bulbs had blown, and this awful music was being piped into the room.  I think it was the stench coming from the trash can next to the changing mat and the accompanying flies that topped it off though.  I will never understand why food and toilets need to go together when babies are involved URGH! 

The best facilities have to be Nordstrom (a department store), and maybe stores provide something similar in the UK.  Nordstrom usually provide a women's lounge in their stores.  It is not necessarily provided for feeding, but it makes an excellent feeding room.  It is a room that you go through to get to the toilets which is filled with comfy chairs, tables and mirrors.  Women can feed there, apply make-up, take a breather etc.  Some of these lounges even have a little alcove with a chair for those who want a little privacy and a seperate room for changing the baby.  I just loved that I could meet other Mothers feeding in the lounge, and also spread the word of breastfeeding just by feeding in a place where many women would see it.

4.  It's your  First Time nursing in public.

I've written before about my first time nursing in public, and it was at the international arrivals gate of BWINursing in Public post.  Practice at home, take a friend, and if you are still unsure find somewhere more private like a changing room or breastfeeding room.  Breastfeeding Suport Groups are THE best places to practice because you can get a look at all the other Mums and see how they do it, and ask people where the best places to go with babies are.

5.  The way that you feed can be awkward.

Every baby is different and every Mum is different.  Breastfeeding doesn't always run smoothly and you may not want the whole world to see you at possibly not your best.  Again, this is a good time to go to a Support Group just to get out of the house and meet other Mums who will be sympathetic.  There are many reasons that breastfeeding is just not simple yet -
  • Your right breast is a gusher.
  • Your left breast is a gusher.
  • Larger breasts may be harder to conceal with a baby's head.
  • You're using nipple shields.
  • You're using a Supplemental Nurser System.
  • You need to use a huge pillow.
All of these reasons are temporary speed bumps that can be overcome.  Your baby will grow and learn to deal with your gusher, and you will both learn to breastfeed easily and even quickly.  Hopefully you'll find the support that you need at a Support Group and be able to feed wherever, however, and whenever you want to.

My final picture is that of a breastfeeding room at a recent baby show that I attended.  The baby show was heaving and there were no seats left anywhere to sit down.  I happily sit on the floor to nurse, but the buggies would have probably run me over.  We checked our map and discovered that the breastfeeding room was at the other end of the building which took us over 20 minutes to get to.  By this time Ellie wasn't particularly happy.  The room was also next to the stage and very loud.  It wasn't well signposted and random people kept walking in looking to buy something and quickly turned to leave.  The door to the outside was left open a little and the room was very cold.  As you'll see from the picture it was a nice room with comfy chairs, water was provided and there was a display of information about breastfeeding.  A local breastfeeding counselor was also on hand to provide any support or tips you might need which was great!

As I sat nursing my daughter a lady came up to me and asked me to hurry up and leave because some performers needed to use the room to get changed and they were waiting outside.  Yes, I was asked to stop breastfeeding in a breastfeeding room!  My Mum threw a fit.  The breastfeeding counselor was right behind her.  I sat and fed Ellie, took a breather, burped her a little and put her to the other breast (she's a one breast kinds girl every other day).  We then packed up our stuff and left the show.  Here is the picture -

 One final word about baby shows today


So, I finish with this.  Breastfeeding in public is the best, I love it and do it and hope that others will do so too, but at the end of the day some women just don't want to or can't and breastfeeding rooms are amazingly useful for tonnes of different reasons.

I do draw the line at the public toilet, so please don't do as recommended on the TV show Loose Women.  I almost cried while watching a recording of the show where women that are looked up to by many people in the UK were told that breastfeeding in public is shameful and should be hidden.

BoobieMilk will be fitting and selling nursing bras at an upcoming baby show in Sussex.  BoobieMilk is also sponsoring the breastfeeding room.  Please pop along to the show and say hello, I'm offering 15% off all pre-booked appointments.

Saturday March 10th, 10-4pm
The Hastings Centre
The Ridge

Go to my nursing bra fitting page to send me a message or leave a comment here


  1. How exiting I am coming to the sussex baby show as I am a local I will make sure to check out the breastfeeding room!
    I would LOVE an appointment, my nursing bra colletion leaves A LOT to be desired!

  2. Holly, would love to improve your nursing bra collection. Just let me know what time you'd like to pop by and I'll see what I can do.

  3. I will have a think and message you soon, thanks.