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Gloucestershire backs breastfeeding rights in restaurants in TiG vote

By RupertJ  |  Posted: January 10, 2013

Breastfeeding vote

Breastfeeding vote

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Gloucestershire’s mums should be encouraged to breastfeed wherever they can, according to parental charities and health organisations.

Last month more than 2,600 people responded to a ThisIsGloucestershire poll on whether mums should be allowed to breastfeed in restaurants. More than two-thirds (69 per cent) said they should.

Campaign and health groups have support the majority of respondents but said that the significant minority view can cause nervous new mums to feel humiliated and intimidated.

The Equality Act, passed in April 2010, states that mums cannot be discriminated against or asked to leave a venue because they are breastfeeding in public.

But the health benefits – breastfeeding is good for the baby’s immune system and development and can reduce the risk of cancer among mums – are sometimes overshadowed by social awkwardness.

This can even cause staff in public places which are unaware of the law to ask mums to stop breastfeeding, for example in restaurants.

Rosie Dodds, senior policy adviser for NCT, the UK’s largest charity for parents said: “Breastfeeding can bring about long-term benefits and is beneficial for both mum and baby. Breastmilk contains many ingredients which help a baby stay healthy, such as antibodies to fight germs and hormones that help a baby’s development. For mums, breastfeeding helps reduce the risk of developing ovarian and breast cancer and helps the uterus return to its normal size after birth.”

“It is important that mums are able to breastfeed whenever and wherever they can.

Steven Johnson, founder of campaign organisation Collaborative Change, said that while the benefits are widely known, the prevailing attitude among more socio-economically deprived groups tends to be that breastfeeding isn’t “the done thing”.

He said support needs to come from friends and family, as well as from those responsible for public places. The benefits, he said, would not only affect the health of the babies and their mothers but also save money for families and the health services.

He said: “Breastfeeding in public places is a massive barrier for these mums. They already feel that the people around them frown on breastfeeding, so doing it in public can be extremely daunting. In situations where retail or public establishments actively discourage breastfeeding, this is felt as almost an establishment ratification of the bottlefeeding norm and can be extremely damaging.

“The public declaration is at least as important as the provision of a comfortable environment when it comes to tackling wider societal norms.”

Nicole Hastie is chairwoman of Gloucester Breastfeeding Supporters Network (GBSN). She said: “Breastfeeding is such a natural and discreet act which is frequently sensationalised, which says far more about the UK's attitude to women's bodies than it does about the natural and ancient act of feeding a human baby.

“How a mum chooses to feed her baby is a personal choice that should be supported by those around her.

“Nursing in public shows less of a mum's body than some of the more revealing fashions, such as plunged necklines. Mums who need to feed their babies are always aware of the possibility of a negative response and I've never met a mum who wanted to be the centre of attention for this. They just wish to continue theirs and their baby's meal in peace.”

GBSN, together with Gloucestershire PCT, is running a campaign called Gloucestershire Welcomes Breastfeeding, promoting baby-friendly places to eat out in the county.

The campaign has its own growing Facebook page and one of the 121 current supporters is the Subway fast food chain branch in St Oswald’s, Gloucester. Franchisee and father-of-three Mario Bassi said: “We take pride in our store’s open and family-friendly environment. We sincerely hope it is a place that busy new mums feel comfortable and happy to breastfeed their children in.”

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  • JaquiLethaby  |  January 20 2013, 11:06AM

    I would like to praise The RUH, Paulton & St Peters (of old) for all the breast-feeding support they give new mums. They also allow you to stay for long enough to gain confidence and proficiency at the 'art'. Consequently, if Mums don't feel pressured to re-enter the hustle & bustle of life immediately, they can learn to BF discreetly in public. No-one notices when I'm feeding mine. I have breastfed without anyone realising at the queues at IKEA, watching Bath Rugby and in countless restaurants, pubs and cafes, (I am feeding my 4th baby as I type this)! I have read of other mums feeding at a Star Trek exhibition, at a funeral, in the dentist's chair because the alternative is an inconsolable little baby which is upsetting for everyone in the vicinity.

    Rate   1
  • dodoleduck  |  January 11 2013, 10:47AM

    'orrible idea. Why does the minority always try to push what they want to do onto the majority and then insist on the majority approval? If you want to do something that is offensive then get on with it and shut up.

    Rate   -3
  • IsitJimKerr  |  January 11 2013, 9:57AM

    Loving the way someone has completely reversed all of the reds and greens since I last looked at this yesterday! I would like to add, that no-one has thought about the baby in this piece or the comments. To me, feeding a baby is an emotional bonding. It's not just a pit stop, re-fuelling exercise. Consequently, in the hustle and bustle of a restaurant or cafe, it is totally inappropriate. I also agree that it shouldn't be done in the toilets or even a baby changing room. I'm sure most busines premises would have a quiet area, with a couple of easy chairs, away from the noise, where a mum can relax, and so can baby. I really don't like the way this issue has been hijacked by the 'breast is best' fascists. Soon they'll be picketing cafes that allow bottle feeding!

    Rate   5
  • raidermanuk  |  January 10 2013, 10:22PM

    There's a long list of bodily functions and activities that are carried out in private in the civilised world. Breastfeeding is one of them.

    Rate   -4
  • eyeopener  |  January 10 2013, 8:49PM

    @ CBCschmucks "when a group of men stare at breastfeeding women while having a fiddle in the trou area......After all ladys, men are only doing whats natural and lets face it" Well nobody will be more expert at whats natural to you CBCschmucks, than you. We must accept that nobody will know you better than you, but please don't tar the rest of us with what is a very sad brush.

    Rate   4
  • FreeRadical1  |  January 10 2013, 5:39PM

    Perhaps TiG should have a poll to decide whether people in wheelchairs should be allowed into restaurants...or black people... It's not as if there are LAWS or anything.

    Rate   -4
  • Twinkletoes  |  January 10 2013, 2:04PM

    Maybe "Grumblingnora" should try eating her dinner in the toilets - it would save her being traumatised by a baby feeding.........................!

    Rate   4
  • EllJay1  |  January 10 2013, 12:20PM

    Nora - well , in that case I hope that you walk straight out of any place where there is a mother breast-feeding, because we wouldn't want a ndice caring person like you to be offended.

    Rate   1
  • spamalot  |  January 10 2013, 12:17PM

    what a lovely person you are grumblingnora! perhaps you shouldnt watch a mother feeding their baby! not enough women breastfeed because of stupid comments like yours! we should feed ut babies the way nature intended!

    Rate   -4
  • GrumblingNora  |  January 10 2013, 11:02AM

    No! Yuk! Puke! It's what toilets are for (I hate this namby-pamby culture-of-the-victim country sometimes, just because it's nice for Mums to be able to breastfeed why should we all have to watch it? Good grief..).

    Rate   2