Before I was a mum the whole idea of breastfeeding, did to be honest, gross me out a bit. Then I had a baby and I wanted the best for him, health wise and so I breast fed him for a year. It didn’t gross me out any more and of course felt very natural and right.
I remember one night I was out for dinner, with my family and my then, 6 month old son. My son got hungry and I was about to breast feed him in the restaurant when my younger brother (at the time with no children) ‘suggested’ that it would be a better idea to head home for coffee and I could do it at home. When I said I was fine to breast feed him at the restaurant he suggested otherwise and we went home!
He’s since had a couple of kids and his wife has informed me that he had no problems with her breastfeeding their boys in public!
What does this tell me about breastfeeding?
It is a sensitive and personal subject and how people feel about it can be based on where they are at, at the moment in their life that they are faced with it.
The recent media frenzy about the young mum told to leave the public swimming pool is a good example. Here are a few different possible perspectives-
• From her perspective she was doing what was natural and right for her baby
• The pool attendant had a “grey” understanding of the law and thought he was doing the right thing by asking her to go somewhere more discreet to feed
• The person who made the complaint to the pool attendant might have had, misguided, safety concerns for the baby or just felt uncomfortable
• David Koch who commented that women should be discreet and a bit more “classy” when they breastfed expressed a view that he agreed on breastfeeding but thought it was a good idea to cover up
• And so the possible perspectives could go on and on…
Just to add one more perspective in and that is the legal perspective-it is illegal to treat a woman less favourably than another person in education, employment or access to premises or services on the basis that she is breastfeeding. Fullstop, end of discussion!
So employers, owners of cafes, local councils who run pools and all the other protected places out there, please, please provide training and education so your staff know what to do and say when they see a woman breastfeeding or another client makes a comment about a breastfeeding woman.