There is a certain amount of ongoing controversy over breastfeeding in public. Some breastfeeding Mothers are completely comfortable feeding their child in public, others feel self-conscious. Then there are the attitudes of the people around you; some are unfazed while other people are offended.
Breastfeeding in Public
There are still stories in the media now and then about mothers who have been asked to stop breastfeeding in a public area, causing much outrage among breastfeeding advocates. Whatever the attitude of those around you, it is important that you know your rights and do what suits your own personal feelings; even if you are a strong advocate of breastfeeding you might still want to feed in private or very discreetly. The point here is that it is the mother’s choice, and no-one should force you to feed in a way, place or at a time that does not suit you and your baby.
The rights of a woman to breastfeed in public are protected by law in Ireland as part of the Equal Status Act. This makes it very clear that women are free to breastfeed their child, of any age, in public areas. This effectively means that anyone who asks you to stop breastfeeding or to leave an area as a result of your breastfeeding has no legal right to do so. Many breastfeeding Mothers worry about their rights if they are challenged about public feeding but the law states clearly that they are protected by the law. Signs in cafes, hospitals or other public spaces that announce the building is ?Breastfeeding- friendly? are there to reassure Mothers, they don?t mean that while it is accepted in this area, it is not elsewhere.
Breastfeeding in Public Tips
It is entirely up to you how discreet you want to be when you are breastfeeding. There are lots of products on the market to help you cover up while feeding your baby, if that is what you want to do. You will find that many public places now have dedicated mother and baby rooms where you can feed privately, and this can be useful in the early days when you are still perfecting your technique or feel self-conscious. Don?t let the fact that there is a room like this discourage you from feeding where you want. Even if there is a designated baby room, it doesn’t make it any less acceptable for you to feed wherever you choose, your rights are protected by law. Similarly, you don?t have to cover up if you don?t want to, so don?t worry if baby decides he doesn’t want the beautiful blanket around him, the most important thing is that you and your baby are comfortable.
Attitudes to Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding activism and clarifications in the law regarding feeding in public spaces have naturally had an effect on general attitudes to breastfeeding. With better support in the form of training for medical practitioners, encouragement for new mums and more breastfeeding awareness campaigns, breastfeeding uptake is thought to be on the rise. With more Mothers deciding to breastfeed, public awareness is naturally going to increase and so is the demand for breastfeeding support; this cycle should in theory make breastfeeding more popular and less controversial, public or otherwise.
Have you any experiences (positive or negative) of breastfeeding in public to share?