I was horrified to read the story this week published by the Nottingham Evening Post about the woman who was allegedly asked to leave Sports Direct for breastfeeding her child.  How is it that events like this keep happening to women who make this feeding choice for their baby.  How Mum’s feed their children is completely up to them, and there should be no issue over where they choose to feed their baby.

 

Choosing to breastfeed a baby is a huge commitment, choosing to feed twins or more babies is beyond that.  Making a commitment to breastfeed on demand is something else again.  If Mum’s make this choice they should be supported by everyone, partners, families, health professionals, employer’s and business’s, even Sports Direct.

 

Breasteeding

 

It would be great if society could accept there are several choices that can be made around feeding a baby, and the reasons for those choices are individual and have been taken with the best intention. Sadly, I very much doubt we will ever get there while there is profit to be made in producing formula milk. I wonder where we would be if there was no profit to be made in feeding babies formula milk?  I’d put my money on us being a nation of breastfeeding loving hippies with a baby being nursed every minute in cafes and shops the length and breadth of the country.

 

So how have we ended up here with so many negative attitudes towards breastfeeding?   Can you imagine the Western World ever taking disgust at a baby being fed a synthetic milk product through a plastic teat with the images the formula producers conjure up in their advertising of healthy happy children, albeit in their ‘follow on’ ranges.  Where are the marketing images of the healthy breastfed babies who are rarely over weight, have strong immune systems and reduced health concerns through out their childhood, adult life and so-on.  Will they ever get an advertising slot during X-Factor?  Breastfeeding LTD  just doesn’t have those kind of marketing budgets.

 

While there is advertising and marketing, breastfeeding will be fighting a losing battle, unless there is a major change in Government policy.  I know the Government have taken steps to address this and bridge some of the gap by not allowing ‘baby’ milk to be advertised or attract ‘loyalty’ rewards, but the marketing engines just came back with follow on milk, and style their products in such a way that you notice the brand, and not necessarily the product that’s being advertised.  These more subtle marketing ploys are far more difficult to control, but it can be done.  Should all baby milk products be out of sight, in plain packaging with a health warning on? A little extreme, or maybe not if you believe there is a link to obesity and hospital admissions for babies.

 

Please do not get me wrong, I believe that Mum’s have the right to chose how they feed their babies.  I believe they should be exposed in equal amounts to the pro’s and con’s of all feeding choices, but that due to profit making marketing machines they do not receive these messages in equal doses.  Should the Government restrict companies who advertise formula related products further, and improve their own advertising and marketing around promoting breastfeeding. Is Government motivated to do this when the main producers of formula for babies are International food giants Danone (Aptamil and Cow & Gate) and Nestle (SMA).

 

However a woman chooses or has to feed her child, she should never be made to feel bad or uncomfortable about these choices.  I would love to see a society where breastfeeding was the preferred choice as I do believe it’s best for Mum and Baby for lots of reasons, and I’ve personally found it the most convenient choice despite some of the challenges I’ve faced especially when feeding number 2.

 

For breastfeeding to become as normal as breathing, there is so much work to be done by all aspects of society.  It is not enough not to discriminate.  Companies need to have policies that  promote breastfeeding  and make Mums welcome.  If complaints from the public are made, companies should challenge them and show a commitment to allowing women to feed their babies.  Government needs to support the work of midwives in raising the number of breastfeeding mums with active marketing campaigns and monitor closely the advertising of the food giants benefiting from bottle fed babies.

 

How does the profile of breastfeeding get sufficiently raised so that it becomes the number 1 feeding choice for babies supported in our society?  These are just a few ideas and I’d love to hear what your thoughts are and what you’d change to support breastfeeding Mum’s.

 

Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net/papaija2008

 

31 COMMENTS

  1. Good read. 🙂

    I think in regards to advertising of formula, is a good place to get information on why this is so extremely important.

    As for being told to leave, it’s against the law to ask a nursing mother to leave any public place in the UK. It’s discrimination.

    I quote the law:
    “Breastfeeding in public (restaurants, cafes, libraries etc.) is protected under the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 under the provision of goods, facilities and services section. If the child is under 6 months old, the mother has additional protection under a 2008 amendment to the act which protects maternity rights. This is superseded by the Equality Act 2010 which clarifies that a business must not discriminate against a woman who is breastfeeding a child of any age in a public place.[25][26] Her companion(s) are also protected by this act.

    A 2004 UK Department of Health survey found that 84% (about 5 out of 6 people) find breastfeeding in public acceptable if done discreetly; however, 67% (2 out of 3) of mothers were worried about general opinion being against public breastfeeding.[27] To combat these fears in Scotland, the Scottish Parliament passed legislation safeguarding the freedom of women to breastfeed in public in 2005.[28] The legislation allows for fines of up to £2500 for preventing breastfeeding of a child up to the age of 2 years old in public places.,[29][30]”
    ERFmama recently posted…You’re in MY seat!My Profile

  2. Great post.
    How I wish breastfeeding was more the norm, not saying people have to choose it or anything, just wish I felt comfortable feeding my baby in public, which I sadly really don’t 🙁

  3. I was told i couldn’t walk into sports direct holding my sons bottle a few years ago due to their no food or drink policy so think maybe someone was taking it to far.

    as for breastfeeding in public it was the reason i ended up bottle feeding my three as i just couldn’t bare to do it. Plus i uses to get made to go sit in another room at families houses. I have had one time when a man had a go at me for bottle feeding my two week old though

  4. Im breastfeedimg my youngest still, who is 18m old. I never had any comments until he was about 8/9 months and people started to ask if he was too old to be fed. I’m now starting the process of weaning as we prepare for our third baby (I don’t want to tandem feed), and will breastfeed this one as well. Probably not for as long but hoping that again the first few months pass without people judging and making comments!

  5. I breastfed my two and often went back to the car or went out between feeds, but I did feed in cafes too although I felt really self concious. If such a natural thing wasn’t such a hoo ha then more women would do it especially the nervous ones like me. A well worded post x

  6. I couldn’t agree with you more – I’m a big advocate of women being able to choose how they feed their babies, without judgement from anyone – but I cannot understand why there is such negativity around breastfeeding in public.

    Its natural, its normal and its certainly nothing to be ashamed of or to be done in a public toilet etc.

    Britain (and a lot of the western world) needs to get a grip – normalise breastfeeding is the way to go!

    • Thanks so much for reading and your great comment. It shouldn’t matter at all how a baby is fed and more needs to be done to make breastfeeding accepted, like it used to be in the old days 🙂

  7. Love this! I’d love it to be the norm but I don’t think it ends with the formula companies (although they play their own huge part) soaps, tv programmes and toy dolls all constantly show babies being bottle fed, or bottles being prepared, so we grow up seeing these images of bottle feeding being ‘the norm’ which is a shame, there is more than one choice out there!

    • Your so spot on, there are so many messages about how babies are fed coming through society. Thanks for reading and your great comment!

  8. I don’t think anyone can win, mothers who breastfeed feel victimised when told they can’t do it in public, mothers who bottlefeed get scrutinised because “breast is best”. everyone should be free to feed there child in the way they feel best, when and where they want to!!! #sharewithme
    chantelle hazelden recently posted…Vita Coco Kids ReviewMy Profile

  9. What a great post! It’s reasons like this that put me off breast feeding. I would be so embarrassed and wouldn’t know what to do. I think women are given grief however they choose to feed their baby, and this is totally wrong! #sharewithme x

    • Thanks for a great comment. I think your experience is shared across a lot of Mum’s. In the old days we used to see everyone do it so we learnt how to do it and it was the norm. I think those days are lost forever 🙁

  10. I would like to see more support. I’ve noticed a real disparity in breastfeeding and how people are coached/encouraged. When I had my first the midwives on the ward assumed I would breastfeed and wouldn’t discharge me until they’d seen me doing it. I did as I was told. Whereas, the girl opposite me said ‘no way,’ and that was it, they just gave her formula. I’ve breastfeed two babies for a year because it suited us all, it didn’t cost anything, it helped me lose the baby weight and it didn’t bother me to do it. But I’m certainly no earth mother! I still occasionally feel like I have to defend this decision to others who didn’t breastfeed theirs. And I’m sure this is because of societal pressure or the natural guilt that all us mothers inherit the day we give birth. The only thing that really matters is doing what’s right for you and your baby. But I think that some people could have breastfed if they’d been given the right support at the time. Topical post #sharewithme
    Amy Ransom recently posted…So, do you have a third child?My Profile

    • I agree with you entirely! Mum’s need the right kind of support, honest support about how challenging breastfeeding can be as well as all the positives. The best support I have experienced is Mums helping other Mum’s! It helps with confidence etc. I think as humans we are programmed to hear all the negatives and not the positives about what a great job we’re doing and what a fantastic example breastfeeding Mum’s set Zx

  11. I was about to write pretty much what Chantelle has! Really upsets me that the breast vs bottle debate is even news tbh… It boils down to lots of clever marketeers making a ton of money for BIG business 🙁 #SWM

  12. I don’t think you can win either way. There is a lot of pressure on women when pregnant to breastfeed and in the hospital immediately after birth it was a nightmare and I was trying so hard to breastfeed and felt really judged when I struggled with it. Then if you do manage to get over that you have to be careful where you do it, keep out of sight and I hated having to always sit in another room at people’s houses to feed him. It’s so taboo and I wish I knew why. Maybe because boobs are just all about sex these days and so people find it hard to see them for their intended purpose. Bonkers though and I think many women who formula feed feel just as judged, maybe even more than breastfeeding women. Fab post questioning it all though xx #sharewithme

    • Thanks Caroline! It is such a hard thing and if I’m honest the whole story of why we ended up here with breastfeeding goes back a few generations. I agree, women are pressured and not always supported if they feel bottle feeding is the right choice for them. Zx

  13. Totally agree with this post, it is so upsetting to read about this – seems to be happening more and more often at the moment! I’d be devastated if someone “told me off” for breastfeeding.
    I was also very self conscious feeding my daughter out and about in public because I was afraid people would judge me for it. I loved it though, feeding her myself for 20 months is one of the things I am proudest of in my life 🙂 x Char

    • Well done! Breastfeeding isn’t easy, and I’m with you, even though I BF’d for 14 months, I was always self conscious about it. Stories like this hitting the papers do not help Zx

  14. I am with you Zena. I can’t believe we still are having issues in the media and in public about something so very natural. I fed my two kids everywhere and if anyone ever told me to leave because of it oh how i would have raised help. I thought by now it’ was illegally to be asked to leave. It shouldn’t be a thing to be shamed of and hide away. It’s just feeding. I hate those signs that say feeding welcome here in the toilets. I don’t make others go in the toilets to eat their lunch why would I feed my baby in there. I could go on all day about it. I don’t care if parents choose either feeding methods but for god sakes if someone wants to breastfeeding let them and leave them alone. It’s just a boob get over it!! hahaha Ok i will calm down now. lol Thank you for linking up to Share WIth Me each week. I am so grateful for your support. #sharewithme
    Jenny recently posted…Me & Mine {April}My Profile

    • Thanks Jenny! I agree, if anyone had of asked me to leave I’d have kicked off! Breastfeeding is the best start any baby can have and it should be made easier for people to do. Pro-breastfeeding policies are needed, not just an end to discrimination Zx

  15. Sad, isn’t it? I really thought Britain was a lot more ‘pro-breastfeeding’ than that. It saddens methat you are made to feel bad about your feeding choice, whatever it may be. x Mel #Sharewithme

    • It is! I would like for all Mum’s to feel comfortable no matter what they decide. I never got a negative comment, but can’t say there was ever a time where I was made to feel feeding my baby was ok either Zx

  16. I still dont get why theres still such a BIG whole HOO HAH about breastfeeding!.. I mean come on, how did our ancestors get fed? If they didnt have the Boob, then we wouldnt be here as they would of died due to starvation. I breastfed my daughter (3rd baby) and it was the best thing i did for her and me!, i fed her everywhere and never covered up. I never got any negative things said to me, if anything people were happy for me and my daughter. Its a shame that it has to be this whole “issue” about it… Im all for, feed your baby how you want, there should be no backlash for either bottle or breast feeding x #Sharewithme

  17. This genuinely makes me very sad. I have breastfed all 3 of mine and only once experienced negativity- in a cafe an old gent tutted and grimaced at me when I started to feed baby but to his credit (!) he moved away so he couldn’t see. Thats it. I have been to cafes and as a warning I have checked with staff that it was ok to use a table to feed and have always been told “Gosh, yes!”. Personally I think I would have left the shop to feed the baby, only because of the distractions and lack of comfortable places to do it in, but I would not have expected to be told to leave. Too many women are forced into toilets to feed their babies and that is just wrong! It is time we grew up and realised that breastfeeding is NORMAL.
    Great post ;(
    x x
    #ShareWithMe

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