*Sigh* It’s still happening.

Today, I read an article about a mother ejected from Granville RSL Club for breastfeeding her 2 month old infant in the lounge area. Naturally, management of this club have claimed that no one remembers this incident occurring and have suggested that the mother, Mrs Chan, somehow misunderstood what was said to her.

I understand this is a case of “We didn’t say that, no one remembers saying that, but if we did say something (that we can’t remember saying) it wasn’t that, she misunderstood” 

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This would be a good opportunity for the club to educate all staff about the legal rights of breastfeeding mothers, especially considering the family-oriented facilities offered by such clubs- think kid’s menus complete with crayons and colouring in sheets, highchairs, baby change facilities and play areas.

The article states that this was Mrs Chan’s first experience of breastfeeding in a public place and I’m so disgusted that this has been done to her. I truly hope it doesn’t impede her from feeding wherever she needs to in future. See how I phrased that? Wherever she needs to. Mothers don’t breastfeed their babies for the hell of it. You feed a baby because they are hungry and need to be fed. Breast milk is the ideal food for babies because it is easily digested as well as being full of appropriate nutrients and antibodies. Because it’s so easily digested, and their stomachs are so tiny, they need to be fed often. At 2 months old, my daughter was still feeding every hour or two. If I couldn’t feed in public, I couldn’t leave the house. I imagine Mrs Chan is in a similar position.

Reading the comments on this article, it was disappointing to note that there are still people out there who feel their sensibilities are more important than the needs of a baby. Calls for mothers to consider how random strangers might feel seeing them feed their children, to express and only bottle feed in public, to feed babies in toilets or to simply remain home until the child is weaned. Yet again, I’ll address these.

If you are uncomfortable seeing a mother breastfeed a child:

You are likely a victim of what the media and pop culture in general has done with our perceptions of women’s bodies. Breasts are constantly sexualised. Breasts are on display to sell products, clothes, food. Sex sells and yet again, there is a price and in this case, the normal act of feeding a baby is now seen as sexual and therefore wrong (One commenter even phrased it as sucking on the mother’s naked body!) Is this your fault? No, not really. Sexualised advertising is everywhere. However, this is your issue. It’s not up to the nursing mother to make you feel comfortable with how she feeds her child, whether it’s breast, bottle or whatever. She has no obligation to consider what a stranger may think or feel about what she is doing. What she is doing is perfectly natural and protected by state and federal law. Therefore, the solution is a simple one. Stop looking. Move away. Carry on with your life. You don’t actually have to be comfortable or happy with the way a woman feeds her child as frankly, it’s none of your business.

If you think mothers should express and bottle feed for your comfort:

See above. Also, just a little bit of information for you. Did you know that some breastfed babies never take a bottle? They don’t like them, they don’t want them and they just won’t budge on that. And introducing bottles early to the breastfed baby can cause other problems like nipple confusion and poor latch.

Expressing doesn’t work for everyone. A mother can have plenty of milk and still struggle to express more than a few mls. I know, because I am one of them. I own 2 manual pump and 3 different electric pumps. I have learned to hand express. I have tried every technique there is and I cannot express more than about 40mls. Even that can take up to 30 minutes to do. Why? Because a pump is not my baby. Mechanically, it’s not just a matter of suction. A baby is far more efficient at extracting milk that a plastic shield, for one thing. The other factor is hormonal. For a milk letdown to occur, the mother’s body releases oxytocin, the hormone associated with love and bonding.

I don’t love my breast pumps. I don’t feel a powerful bond with them either.

So to all the “Just express a bottle!” crowd, I say this- No. Not only do I not have to, I can’t.

To those wondering why mothers don’t simply breastfeed in the toilets:

Seriously? Do I even have to ask the question? Judging by what I’ve read, I guess I do.

Do you ever eat your meals in the toilets?

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I’ve known and seen some people with some seriously questionable table manners. I’m talking grown adults who chew with their mouths open and talk with their mouths full and have bits of food spraying everywhere. Seeing someone eat like that makes me a bit uncomfortable. I find it off putting. So I don’t look. I don’t insist they take their meals perched on a toilet seat.

For those of you who think a mother should stay home until the child is weaned:

The World Health Organisation recommends breastfeeding for at least two years. Who can stay home for 2 years? Who wants to? No matter how long you choose to breastfeed, this should not (and legally does not) preclude you from being an active member of society. To say that a woman should not enjoy a meal at a club, go shopping, go for a swim at the local pool or a walk at the park because she might need to feed her baby is ridiculous and discriminatory. Why should a woman stay home, potentially for years, in case she offends someone by feeding her child? Mums who feed in public are inadvertently doing a community service- they are helping to normalise breast feeding by making it commonplace.

However you choose to feed, covered or uncovered, in a private room or in the open, via bottle or breast- do it because it works for you. Don’t do it because some narrow minded, ignorant people are trying to shame you into feeding your baby in a way that suits them. It’s your right to feed your baby wherever you need to. And if you are discriminated against- take it further. Don’t accept it. It’s not acceptable and it’s not legal. There is information about lodging complaints here.

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