Freedom! Breastfeeding in public

It can be nerve-wracking feeding your new baby in public for the first time. I’ve never been on the red carpet myself, but had geared myself up for a similar reaction to Kiera Knightly descending from her limo on my first attempt. Of course, in the end, it was rather a let down (if you’ll accept the pun). No-one batted an eyelid or in fact actually noticed I was doing it at all. Apart from a small incident involving a jet of breastmilk, a bus door and a crying baby a couple of weeks later, I haven’t had any issues/comments or problems in the entire 16 months I have been feeding my daughter to date.

A few tricks from experienced feeders helped me pluck up the confidence to try. These include:

  1. Go somewhere you know lots of mothers and baby’s go – you’ll feel more confident knowing it’s totally normal in that venue
  2. Take a support person to chat and help you relax
  3. Feed in your chosen outfit at home to make sure it is easy
  4. Try wearing a vest and a looser top. Pull vest under breast, undo bra and then lift loose top to latch baby on. It means your tummy stays covered and once your little one is latched on there won’t be any flesh showing
  5. Sit somewhere comfy-don’t try and feed sitting in a field for your first time feeding in public if you’ve previously needed lots of cushions to get it right

Very, very rarely (and never to me personally) are there individuals who have an issue with public breastfeeding. This doesn’t happen much as most people don’t notice, many don’t care, lots are wrapped up in their own personal dramas and quite a few will be downright delighted to see you feeding your baby.

There is, however, one place I know to avoid if you are looking for somewhere to eat or drink in the E1 or Brick Lane area. I hear that Yummy’s Cafe on Cheshire Street were guilty of asking a woman to leave when she wanted to have a drink and breastfeed her 4 month old son. Now, not only is this not a very nice thing to do, but it is unlawful. In case you are one of the unlucky minority who comes across this sort of attitude it’s useful to know that the 2010 Equality Act says that it is sex discrimination to treat a woman unfavourably because she is breastfeeding. It applies to anyone providing services, benefits, facilities and premises to the public, public bodies, further and higher education bodies and association. Service providers include most organisations that deal directly with the public. Service providers must not discriminate, harass or victimise a woman because she is breastfeeding. Discrimination includes refusing to provide a service, providing a lower standard of service or providing a service on different terms.

If your baby is under 26 weeks old, there are additional clauses that protect you as a new mother:

(3)A person (A) discriminates against a woman if, in the period of 26 weeks beginning with the day on which she gives birth, A treats her unfavourably because she has given birth.

(4)The reference in subsection (3) to treating a woman unfavourably because she has given birth includes, in particular, a reference to treating her unfavourably because she is breast-feeding.

So, happy feeding (and don’t go to Yummy’s Cafe)!

Comments
2 Responses to “Freedom! Breastfeeding in public”
  1. Rachel H says:

    Gosh thanks for he tips I will definitely be avoiding Yummy’s cafe in E2 and will be sure to tell my friends. How shocking it is in this day and age to meet such hideous attitudes.

  2. Rachael says:

    Good post. The fear you feel before feeding in public for the first time is a gaziliion times worse than actually doing it! And it is so liberating to be able to leave the house again…

    Oh and shame on Yummy’s cafe. It’s 2011 fgs, not 1950.

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