Monday, 28 April 2014

Milking it for all it's worth



Anyone who reads my blog regularly will know how much I have to say on the subject of breastfeeding, breast milk and anything boob related in general (click here, here, here OR here for a further lady chest-related reading) 

So obviously I jumped at the chance of signing up to volunteer for my local ‘Breastfeeding Welcome’ scheme. I have mentioned this admirable organisation in previous posts whilst venting my frustrations around the squeamishness and general lack of normality that surrounds the notion of breastfeeding in England today. So can you legally ask a mother to stop feeding in your bar/restaurant/gym? Of course not. By law you can feed your child anywhere you like, as long as it doesn’t pose a health and safety risk (should you be tempted to conduct a feed on a building site I’m guessing) 

The very thought of someone being asked to leave somewhere because they were…wait for the outrage.. feeding their baby (am I really writing this?) is the type of thing that would have me aboard my soapbox faster than you can say lactation. However, I need to calm down, even I recognise it would be unfair to write off a venue purely because it’s proprietor isn’t aware of what exactly is considered lawful. There is undoubtedly still considerable confusion on the subject. This is demonstrated beautifully by an experience relayed to me by one of the volunteers I met at the ‘Breastfeeding Welcome’ training. At the local swimming pool, she was told she could not stand at the water’s edge whilst her husband and their daughter were in the pool, as it posed a health and safety risk. She pointed out that she might be needed to breastfeed but the Supervisor said even if her baby needed feeding, it wasn’t like she could do it in public anyway. (Clissold Leisure Centre -hang your head in shame!)

However, it isn’t just about reminding business owners that it is perfectly legal to feed your baby in a cafe or at a swimming pool. If you’ll allow me to take a moment to recall my lactating years where there were many occasions I found myself in unfamiliar surroundings, with a screaming, hungry baby and, unless I was prepared to sit down on the pavement, nowhere to go to feed him. A cafe with a sticker on the window that read ‘Breastfeeding Welcome’ would have been my saviour (and a far warmer option then the bus stop!) It was remembering these panicked moments that I realised the purpose of the ‘Breastfeeding Welcome’ scheme is also to provide reassurance to the ladies out there who might hesitate before breastfeeding their baby in public. 

So feeling motivated and inspired leaving the training session I walked home taking a detour to one of my favourite child friendly haunts, The Russet on Hackney Downs who without hesitation enthusiastically signed up to the scheme. I didn’t even need to dangle the carrot of free publicity that comes with being registered on the ‘Breastfeeding Welcome’ website.

However, I then came home to see THIS on Mumsnet 

When it comes to spreading the word on breastfeeding it seems there is much to be done.

This has spurred Mumsnet to build a map of where Mumsnetters have fed their babies (click here to have a peek). As someone who took some family sightseeing round London with my youngest in tow I am pleased to say when it comes to breastfeeding: St Paul’s Cathedral, Madame Tussauds and Fortnum and Mason’s were all very accommodating. 

So who can I next convince to place a ‘Breastfeeding Welcome’ sticker in their window? Sports Direct Stoke Newington High St here I come. Watch this space. 

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