Music and motherhood
Lots of musicians have kids. All the famous old guys have kids: John Lennon, Bob Dylan, Elvis. But for a male musician it’s much easier – their female partner can hold/feed and soothe the baby during gigs. Or stay home with the baby. For a woman with a baby, you can’t just leave the baby at home and hit the road. Breastfeeding means you pretty much have to be with the baby 24 hours a day.
This means bringing your baby to gigs and having a pair of loving and trusted arms to hold the baby while you play (and if the father of the baby is in the band, it can’t be him!). It means breastfeeding just before you go on stage – and getting bandmates to set up the stage and maybe even soundcheck for you. Otherwise you might end up with the trauma of a hungry, crying baby up the back of the room mid set. It often means taking the baby outside while the music is playing if the levels are too loud for little ears. It means not having a drink with everyone after the show – and still being the most sleep deprived the next day. Being pregnant on the road was a breeze compared with having an 8 week old with us!
People find the sight of a new mother on stage a bit confronting – breastfeeding mothers are a strangely uncommon sight for many people. I was almost turned away by security at one gig, because they had never seen a baby at a venue before. Even shop assistants say things like “Wow! You’re brave leaving the house with such a tiny baby!”. I don’t bother telling them I’m on tour with a band and have a show that night.
But it’s also totally doable, and lots of other amazing women have done it. Ani DiFranco, Sarah Humphreys, Clare Bowditch, and the pioneer Maybelle Carter have all managed it. Taasha from The Audreys has just announced the birth of her baby boy – and a raft of gigs in a few months time.
We just survived our first mini tour with a baby. Late nights, 1200km, 5 gigs in 5 days combined with sub-zero temperatures made for some challenging moments. But the shows were good, baby Griffin was content and happy and our baby holders were amazing!
Much respect to all the other breastfeeding performers out there.
Desert Rat Shorty