It’s surprising just how many debates arise over the way in which we feed our babies. Breastfeed, or bottle feed? There seems to be a stigma attached to both. Yes, I understand the huge benefits of breastfeeding, and yes, I did choose to breastfeed my own baby for the first 3 months, but honestly, is it any business of anyone else how we feed?
With breastfeeding so much in ‘the public eye of motherhood’, breastfeeding mums can, understandably become anxious about feeding in public. What these mums absolutely do not need is to face these unpleasant altercations that we keep hearing about in the media. I have read about so many of these occurrences recently…..
“If you want to breastfeed your baby, then stay indoors, don’t go to a five star hotel”
“Thousands protest in support of breastfeeding ‘tramp’”
“Sports Direct hit by breastfeeding protests across the UK”
And when you are a breastfeeding mum, it’s all too easy to be ‘embarrassed’ into making a quick exit in these situations, especially when you’re not sure of your rights!
So, to make things perfectly clear to all you breastfeeding mums out there, you are protected by law in the Equality Act 2010. The Equality Act states that it is sex discrimination to treat a woman less favorably because she is breastfeeding. This act covers you in all public places that you have a right to be in. It is against the law for anybody to make you move to a different location to continue feeding your baby.
Surely, if we are to support breastfeeding as a society, this must include supporting breastfeeding in public. You simply cannot have one without the other. How can we say to mums ‘Yes, you are absolutely doing the right thing for your baby, but would you mind just locking yourself away while you do it!’
The majority of people, if asked, would say they support breastfeeding. After all, you can’t argue with the facts and the facts are that breastfeeding is best for baby, perfectly natural, and the way babies have been fed since humans evolved!
The recent statement by Nigel Farage declaring that breastfeeding mums should sit in a corner if they are too ostentatious is, in my humble opinion, completely ludicrous. Mums do not set out to be ‘ostentatious’, in fact, in my experience, most do their very best to cover up as much as is practical and comfortable.
This is a prime example of someone who should be supporting breastfeeding and supporting NHS advice, rather than actively discouraging it.
What happened before formula was available, when there was no choice in how you fed your child? Were all mums banished behind closed doors? Of course not, breastfeeding in public was a completely normal thing to see.
The bottom line is this; mums need support. If, as a society we can work towards re-normalizing breastfeeding in public this is the biggest support we can give.