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Out and about

Hundreds of Irish babies were breastfed in public yesterday and nobody noticed

More than 200 mothers took part in a “non-event event” to highlight the fact that no one bats an eyelid when they breastfeed in public.

YESTERDAY MOTHERS ACROSS the country took part in what has been described as a “non-event event” to highlight how little it actually bothers people when women breastfeed in public.

An appearance this week by broadcaster Dil Wickremasinghe on daytime television resulted in some negative commentary after she breastfed her baby boy Phoenix on air. It sparked a debate about whether it was appropriate for women to breastfeed in public – though they are legally entitled to.

Volunteers from the Friends of Breastfeeding support group decided it was time to show that breastfeeding in public is just not that big a deal and that these kinds of debates are unnecessary.

So yesterday over 200 women across the country breastfed their babies in a public place and posted about it on social media, all reporting that no one batted an eyelid.

We met one woman, Lisa Finnegan, and her son Senan at a café in Dundrum Town Centre.

She has been involved with Friends of Breastfeeding for a number of years and said her first experience of breastfeeding was with her older son Rory in Ikea. He was just a few days old at the time.

“I was quite nervous because it’s really fiddly and you don’t know what you’re doing and you’re afraid that you’re going to flash everyone,” she said.

Another mother in the store approached her and reassured her that she was doing a great job and this is the kind of positive support women in the Friends of Breastfeeding group offer one another every day, she explained.

As we spoke she fed 10 month old Senan in a café where she would regularly breastfeed and no one ever notices. And that was the whole point of taking part in the event.

Michelle Hennessy / Michelle Hennessy / /

“I like the idea of all these babies being breastfed and no one noticing. Because it’s not flamboyant thing, it’s not a noticeable thing”.

This shouldn’t be a discussion at all. It’s something so many people do on a daily basis. It’s part of normal life, it’s part of having children, it’s part of being part of a family. Children have to be fed and so long as they’re fed and they’re loved it doesn’t really matter how they’re fed.

For a number of mothers, yesterday was their first experience of feeding their babies in public.

Giverny Caldwell was one of the first timers. She fed 10 month old Brogan in Ballincollig Regional Park.

Before today she said she has felt self-conscious about breastfeeding, even in her own home in front of friends and family.

It’s been a long ten months trying to hide in the car beforehand or get out while I had a two hour window. It was actually so much easier, no one even batted an eyelid so now I‘m thinking ‘why have I just spent the last ten months making my life so much harder than it would have been?’

“There were loads of people around people walking past and no one noticed at all or if they did it wasn’t obvious,” she added.

Kathryn Foskin, one of the organisers of the event said over 200 mothers across the country posted messages online about nursing in public. She said for many it was a “non-event event” as they would have been doing it anyway.

“Once something like this is seen out there every day it becomes invisible.”

Opinion: How breastfeeding has brought me closer to my baby daughter>

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