‘Inspirational’ rugby mum breastfeeds newborn daughter in middle of match

A new mum has been praised for her multi-tasking after she was pictured breastfeeding her 13-week-old daughter during a rugby game before returning to the pitch.

Emily Brierley, 29, said she hopes the photo, which went viral when posted online at the weekend, would help normalise nursing in public.

Fans expressed support when the snap was shared of her feeding her daughter Arabella in between stints on the pitch for Leeds-based Stanningley Ladies on Sunday.

Incredibly the new mum was back training just two months after giving birth.

The tiny tot was growing hungry towards the end of the first half after Emily fed her just before kick-off.

Emily, who was at the time subbed off, quickly nursed her young daughter before casually putting her shirt back on and returning to the field to help her team to a 22-18 victory.

She said: “I hadn’t been able to play until this week but we had been down to watch the girls and I’ve brought Arabella with me.

“Usually I’ve fed her before kick off and she’s not needed feeding again until afterwards, but with it being so hot she must have wanted more.

“I fed her before we warmed up ahead of kick off but she was a bit unsettled just before I came off.

“My mum said she might need feeding so she’d only lasted about 45 minutes since her last feed. I just took my top off and fed her.

“Normally I wouldn’t cover up, but because of the heat and the sun, I put my top over her head.”

Prop forward Emily then handed her daughter back to mum Amanda and carried on playing the match.

But her proud mum took a picture of Emily and it was shared to social media to hundreds of positive comments.

A post on her team’s Facebook read: “Just want to say how proud we are of one of our players Emily who gave birth to her daughter Arabella 13 weeks ago.

“She’s been back training a few weeks now and played her first game back yesterday, in between the game Emily came off as a sub and squeezed in a quick feed before going back on the field. Well done Emily.”

Other mums were quick to praise Emily as an “inspiration”.

Emily, also mum to Scarlett, 9, said she was “overwhelmed” by the response and said she hopes the picture can remove the stigma around breastfeeding in public.

She said: “I can’t believe how popular it’s been, it’s been an absolutely amazing reaction.

“Sadly there still is a stigma about feeding in public and even amongst the positive comments there’s been some people saying you shouldn’t do it in public.

“Mostly it’s people who say it’s sexualised, well it’s only sexualised because society has made it sexualised. I’m just feeding my child.”

“I just want to show girls out there you can go about your daily life and do things you love and not have to stop.

“My family comes first, but rugby is a close second. I don’t let anything get in the way of doing what I love and hopefully girls can take a positive message from that.”

The prop forward was playing her first game in more than 20 months after an injury and then Covid restrictions stopped her taking the field.

She was also unable to train for eight weeks after Arabella’s birth but was able to get back on the pitch after four weeks practice.

She added: “The girls are a massive support, especially being a single mum and having an older girl Scarlett.

“They all help out where they can at games days and training. We are one big family.

“I hadn’t been able to train for about eight weeks after giving birth, but as soon as I had the all-clear from the doctors I was straight at training.”