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Milo is on my lap, feeding again. Part of me is concerned about the newborn-esque frequency of these feeds, another part of me couldn’t care less. I am, I read in some 1950’s style childrearing book, an ‘accidental’ parent: I take not so much a regimented routine as a trial-and-error, mother’s-intuition oh-bugger-he’s-turned-into-a-scallywag approach to looking after baby.

It’s unnaturally sunny given that it’s a February day in Manchester. The sun is shining so fiercely that I hoicked Milo’s hat off as soon as we wheeled inside the Craft Centre and it sits unloved on the table in front of us, squeezed between the fair trade chocolate (I’m doing them a favour by buying it, OK? It’s not like I want to eat it) and a teeny tiny bottle of hand-pressed lemonade. Milo gulps noisily, milk dribbling down between his chin and my chest. I try and wipe it away with my finger lest I start to smell of cheese – all that hot sunshine mixing with stale milk – though it does occur to me that I’ll have no problem getting a seat on the bus home if I leave it as is.

The man behind the counter catches my eye and smiles, backing it up with a short, efficient nod. I’m not sure what this nod means. Well done you for breastfeeding? Glad you feel you can whip ’em out in my cafe? More likely a silent plea: please don’t wave them around, you might upset the customers.

I thought breastfeeding in public would be hard but it’s surprisingly easy. I’ve got a ready-prepared speech should anyone so much as cast a disapproving glance my way but no one has said, sniffed or glowered a get-thee-dressed-woman reproach yet. To be honest, I’m a little disappointed. I practice what I might say in the shower every morning: there’s the sexual hang-up argument (‘they’re not just for male pleasure, you perv); there’s the don’t mess with me approach (‘I’ve got two words for you and the second one is “off”‘), and then there’s just blinding them with undisputed medical facts (‘breastmilk contains over 100 ingredients not present in formula, it safeguards against childhood obesity, gastrointestinal disease, various forms of cancer, ear infections and raises IQ by an average of seven points. Would you like me to go on?’).

We were out with my Mum the other week, sipping coffee while Milo glugged away, and I mentioned my as yet redundant speech. I was so busy blathering on about how people seemed to be OK about me breastfeeding my son in public that I failed to notice a woman sat to my right, a little behind me. As I wittered and Milo swallowed, she glared. Frustrated at me not noticing, she kept waggling her head about and tutting and then staring at my chest again. I was oblivious and Mum, ever one for the quiet life, tried not to laugh. When she told me later I was gutted: the ‘if you don’t like it, don’t look’ line would have been perfect to use on her. Bah.

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