I was going to blog about something else today, but then I heard about a lady who was asked to stop breastfeeding in Debenhams, Oxford, because it was a public place. .. and that made me cross.
It is this kind of backward and ridiculously prudish attitude towards breastfeeding that means some women feel trapped in their home with new babies and many give up breastfeeding at the earliest possible opportunity.
In the UK the number of mothers who exclusively breast feed at 6 months is below 1%. This is despite The World Health Organisation recommendation that exclusive breastfeeding has several advantages over mixed feeding.
One of my many roles as “More than a Mum” is a breastfeeding peer supporter. One of the most regular concerns I deal with is from Mums who feel that they’ll never be able to feed outside of the house. I have had a woman turn up with a 5 month old child, distressed that she had not been out other than to friends and families houses, because she didn’t think you were allowed to breast feed in public in this country. That is how institutionalised this attitude is in the UK.
Breastfeeding is a brilliant thing to be able to do for and with your baby. It has a number of health benefits for your child and for you (not to mention cost benefits), but moreover, it is your right! You have the right to breastfeed your baby in any place, unless there are health and safety reasons which make it dangerous. If you need confirmation of this, take a look at this link. I am fairly certain that Debenhams couldn’t suggest breastfeeding discretely in the corner of Dune shoe shop presents any health and safety issues.
Anyway I don’t wish to rant at you for too long, but I do want to let you all know about the brilliant reaction of the Mum in question. Emily John has set up a social-media protest. She has set up a facebook event and wants to get as many Mum’s as possible to have a “Nurse-in” at Debenhams in Oxford. If you are a nursing mum in the Oxford area, please join up. I’m sure you’d also be welcome as a supporter, feeding or not. Please pop along to Emily’s “Debenhams Nurse-in” event page on facebook and sign up, and then pass this information on to anyone you know who supports breastfeeding.
A little update 10/10/11 Debenhams have apologised but the ‘Nurse-in’ will still go ahead to raise awareness. BBC coverage here