We’ll have all seen the pictures by now (which were taken without permission, so we won’t publish them here). Our lovely not-quite-a-HRH-anymore Duchess Meghan lumping 8 month old Archie around the countryside in a baby carrier, grinning despite being thrown clearly off kilter by the combination of a dog on each arm and the awkward positioning of darling Archie in said carrier. The press and Twitter have had a field day, accusing Meghan of not knowing how to use the carrier, not considering the needs of her child etc etc etc.
I can only assume all these “experts” have never actually carried a wriggling 8 month old around themselves, or if they have, their experience must be limited to babies who are fed with a bottle.
Because here’s what a breastfeeding, baby-carrying mum sees when she looks at that picture: another mum, practising the really flipping awkward art form of breastfeeding a wriggling 8 month old, in a carrier, whilst walking the dogs. If she’s not feeding the exact second those photos were taken, then she probably was 5 or 10 minutes before and Baby Archie has drifted off peacefully with a happy full tummy.
There is no “perfect” positioning during such an act. The baby-wearing TICKS checklist goes out of the window for a time… all you’re thinking about when faced with a hungry baby in need is getting baby latched, keeping your modesty intact, and ensuring your precious cargo doesn’t actually fall onto the floor in the process.
I remember my first outdoor hands-free feed. It was absolutely terrifying. The logistics of getting baby down to the right spot, are just impossible to imagine unless you’ve done it yourself. Following the TICKS checklist, baby is normally (T)ight, (I)n close view, (C)lose enough to kiss, (K)eeping the chin off their chest, and with a (S)upported back. To get them down 20cms (or more, if pregnancy wasn’t kind!) to feed is quite the undertaking. There are straps to loosen, clothes to rearrange, and a whole human person to shrug down your body like a koala down a tree.
Once they’re down there, if you’re planning on carrying on walking, then they will be off-centre, just as Archie’s positioning shows. It does look awkward, but it’s not dangerous or bad. She’s just doing her best for her baby, herself and her sanity in a tricky situation. The smile on her face says, “this is my version of motherhood: deal with it”.
Press and social media “experts” are so ready to give their two-penneth on all aspects of child-rearing that it’s not a surprise they’ve thrown the baby out with the bath water with this one, but oh how they’ve massively missed the mark.
I hope Meghan is laughing at their utter ignorance – or better still, completely oblivious to it all.
Our breastfeeding rates are shamefully low in this country – so low that Unicef describes them as a “public health issue“. Which is heartbreaking when breastmilk is credited with everything from increasing immunity to killing cancerous cells in medical trials. We desperately need more breastfeeding role models, who actively choose to continue feeding past the requisite 6 months – who actually get past the first few painful feeds at all. We need our role models to be celebrated for their achievements, not demonised for showing the reality of parenting.
So hats off to you Meghan, for keeping going, with a smile on your face and Baby Archie on your boob. We could do with a bit more of that over here, but hopefully Canada will be more welcoming, patient and understanding of the challenges of motherhood. You are clearly bossing it, and we at The Motherload® salute you for that.