Taking Stock with Rob Stocks - June 15, 2011

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We Brits are a tolerant old bunch – it’s one of the cornerstones of our modern society.

That’s why some people’s attitudes to breastfeeding are so surprising.

My Good Wife has, to her credit, spent the past six months feeding the twins without the need for a bottle. It’s something I’ve been wholeheartedly supportive of, not least because it’s saving me a fortune in formula.

She’s been fortunate, in this the age of the cutback, to have been able to take advantage of an extensive support network.

We’ve had people pop round to the house checking up on her, a support worker on the end of the phone when needed, and there’s a fantastic group every week down at the local Surestart Centre (one of the ones which is still open).

But it seems not everyone is so keen on the concept of breast is best.

The critical glances are one thing, you’ll occasionally hear mutterings and mumblings, but for My Good Wife it’s water off a duck’s back.

However, even she was shocked, last week, when staff at a major high street chain, asked if she would mind feeding one of the twins in the toilet.

When she declined such a tempting offer, it was suggested she might like to settle instead for the baby changing room.

I guess the idea was something along the lines of out of sight, out of mind.

My Good Wife did indeed ensure she was out of sight, by walking out of the store.

Now, there are a huge number of businesses, many here on the Fylde coast, who welcome and support breastfeeding mums – including, apparently, the store which tried to send my twins for a snack in the loo.

It’s no good for managers to say one thing, but for staff to do another – mixed messages are the last thing mums need, while they are struggling to keep their babies happy.

I’m not some kind of breastfeeding militant. It’s not right for everyone.

But what I can’t fathom is why people find one of the most natural acts of motherhood so disturbing.

I know from experience how very discreet mums can be when feeding, yet, for some, it seems, it’s an activity seen as strictly taboo.

Hopefully, that’s an attitude which, like many others in this modern Britain, is changing fast.