Chrissy breastfeeding her baby so openly is the boost all new breastfeeding mums need

Chrissy Teigen (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

I’m no brazen boob-flasher when it comes to breastfeeding.

I subscribe to the do-it-discreetly school of thought, but I wholeheartedly applaud every mum’s right to feed her baby where and when necessary, without fearing criticism from judgy onlookers or nasty online trolls.

Which is why it horrified me to read about Chrissy Teigen being shamed online after sharing a snap of her breastfeeding her baby. The model and social media star posted a photograph on Instagram of her breastfeeding her seven-week-old son Miles, and added the caption: ‘Luna making me feed her babydoll so I guess I have twins now’.

But critics were quick to lash out at Teigen, with one writing: ‘So not only do people have to see pictures of what you eat for lunch but now they have to see pictures of what your baby ate for lunch.’

Fortunately, Chrissy shot back: ‘I don’t care to see grainy fireworks, Coachella selfies or infinity pool pics but I let people live. Calm your tits and scroll on by.’

Good for her. I’m so glad that modern mums in the public eye aren’t shy about breastfeeding their babies. I can see why it might feel like over-sharing to those who don’t see the need, but pictures like Chrissy’s can be indescribably helpful for a new mum feeling overwhelmed by the experience of trying to keep a baby alive with nothing but her boobs. I know, because I’ve been one – three times.

I’ve been tutted at, muttered over and even asked to move while breastfeeding my babies. I’ve been slapped with a parking ticket by a traffic warden, who showed no mercy for the fact that I was (literally) five minutes over my time because I paused to feed my screaming baby en route to my car.

Once, when I asked a shop customer services adviser if there was anywhere I could feed my howling, hungry baby, I was directed, disdainfully, in the direction of the disabled toilet. I wouldn’t want to eat my lunch in the loo, so why should my baby? But she did, because there were no other facilities.

Breastfeeding is not as easy as it looks, believe me. When one of my babies failed to gain sufficient weight in the first few weeks of life, prompting my health visitor to diagnose ‘failure to thrive’, I was urged to switch to formula milk instead of encouraged to persevere. I felt like I was the failure, and at the one thing I was supposedly equipped to do. I’m not saying a picture like Chrissy’s would have persuaded me to persevere with breastfeeding against all these odds. But it would have gone a long way towards redressing the balance of often feeling awkward and inappropriate under the glare of those who couldn’t grasp that I was simply doing the very best thing I could do for my child.

Thankfully, such experiences never put me off breastfeeding. Being belittled by those whose opinions I don’t value has never bothered me much. But not everyone feels like this after giving birth – I know of new mums who struggled to breastfeed, for whom a harsh comment from a self-appointed parenting critic or a sneery look from a stranger signalled the end of breastfeeding altogether.

And before anyone says Chrissy and her ilk deserve to be shamed for oversharing the minutiae of motherhood, let me make this point. In days gone by, we didn’t need Insta mums to make us feel capable and less alone; we had communities, female relatives living nearby, and older women on hand to offer us their pearls of parenting wisdom.

These days, such things can be hard to come by. Which is why celebrity mums making things like breastfeeding socially acceptable – and yes, even Instagrammable – are doing us all an enormous favour.

You disagree? Well, you know what to do. As Chrissy says, feel free to scroll on by.

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