This week it was widely reported on the local news that Aberdeen cafes and restaurants are signing the Aberdeen Breastfeeding Welcome scheme….great news for nursing mums, but why is this still necessary in 2016?
In 2005 I had my first baby, the same year a law was passed in Scotland: You have the right to breastfeed or bottle feed a child in public until a child is 24 months old under Scottish law. In addition you cannot be discriminated against for breastfeeding a child in public up to the age of 26 weeks. This is the law under the Equality Act which applies throughout the UK.
So I was free to feed anywhere.
If I am honest it had never occurred to me that anyone would disapprove of breastfeeding in public. So in this blissful bubble of naivety our breastfeeding journey began. Like many it didn’t go smoothly to start, and I found it much easier to get topless on the sofa at home with a large bar of chocolate and the TV remote – no new law was going to allow this in the local café.
Once we got the feeding, while fully-clothed, mastered – I was ready to rejoin the world and feed in public – I was nervous and lacked confidence, but other people’s opinion hadn’t crossed my mind. My main worry was that baby would come unlatched and I’d end up like a milk fountain squirting innocent passers-by – I’d like to reassure you this never happened!
One of the reasons I loved breastfeeding was the lack of equipment. I just needed me, my boobs and baby. So once I’d fed a couple of times in public I was happy and comfortable, I breastfed all three of my cherubs. I breast fed in art galleries, public transport, cafes, and the cinema, I never once heard a negative comment, only encouragement.
So it came as a bit of a shock when just a year ago, my happy breastfeeding bubble was burst. My children were all well and truly weaned and I was attending child protection training. A few scenarios were given to get the group discussing issues and perceptions, one of these scenarios was a lady breastfeeding in public.
Expecting this topic to be dealt with quickly, I was taken aback when two ladies said that they didn’t feel it was necessary for mums to be feeding in public and they should wait and do it in the privacy of their own home. BUBBLE BURST.
Mums need to be seen breastfeeding in public, we need to bring up a generation for who this is the norm and perhaps we won’t need to be talking about this 12 years from now.
This new scheme that will see local business display a welcome breastfeeding stickers can only be positive in helping new mum gain confidence to feed out and about. But remember if they don’t have a sticker you can still feed you toot and maybe suggest they join the scheme.
Breastfeeding support has also improved leaps and bounds in the last 12 years so don’t hesitate to ask your health visitor for information on your local breastfeeding groups.