Muslim and Breastfeeding in public

Contiuning our Breast Friends week for World Breastfeeding Week, we have another guest post. Today A to Z Mummy shares her experiences of breastfeeding and being a Muslim convert….

I am a 31 year old Muslim convert and I have 2 little boys, Boy Z who is 4 and Baby A who is going to be 1 at the beginning of September.  I always knew I wanted to breastfeed and it just didn’t really occur to me to do anything else.  Breastfeeding Boy Z started off as a bit of a struggle as he was tongue tied.  In Islam mothers are encouraged to breastfeed babies until they are 2 years old and I just couldn’t believe that we might not be able to do this.  Luckily I stumbled across an old school, no nonsense healthcare worker in the hospital, she sat with me for ages manhandling me and manhandling my baby until he latched on.  I didn’t feel under any pressure from anyone to breastfeed but it was what I wanted to do.

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When I was pregnant with Baby A I knew once again I wanted to breastfeed and I was extremely lucky as he latched on within a few minutes of being born and stayed on my boob from about 9.30pm right through until 5am with just the short 5 minute drive home from the birthing centre.  This time around though I knew I was going to breastfeed in public come what may.  With Boy Z I did it a few times but I was less confident and only really did it when I had no other option.  With Baby A I was much more aware of my legal rights, a lot more confident and a lot more prepared.  I made a point of feeding him every time I went out in the early days.  I think there is a massive issue in the UK with breastfeeding rates and I feel that the more people see a mother feeding a baby when out and about then the more “normal” breastfeeding will become.

When Baby A was 4 months old I started wearing hijab (a headscarf) and my confidence with nursing in public was shaken.  I have always covered myself when feeding (although take absolutely no issue with mothers who don’t) but I suddenly became very self conscious.  I felt people were judging me because I now had a virtual sign on my head saying “I’m Muslim” and to then throw getting my boobs out to feed my baby into the mix was just very confusing for me.  I didn’t want non Muslims to judge me, I didn’t want Muslims to judge me but in the end I just decided that actually I didn’t care.  If my baby needed feeding then I was going to feed him.  I met up with a friend for coffee with both the boys, she was chatting with Boy Z so I started feeding Baby A.  It wasn’t until I actually mentioned it that she noticed I was feeding him, she thought I was just trying to get him to sleep.  I soon realised that wearing a headscarf makes breastfeeding in public a doddle as I could just drape the scarf all around wherever I needed to and nobody could see a thing. The way I try to look at it now is that if people stare then it’s their issue and most certainly not mine; I just smile and think that perhaps if I change one person’s perception on breastfeeding (or Muslims) then that can only be a great thing.

You can find A to Z mummy online on Facebook, Twitter and on the A to Z blog.

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