The Right to Breastfeed

Would you breastfeed your baby in a restaurant or on the bus? As the law stands, if someone objects to your feeding baby, you could be asked to stop or leave.

The Right to Breastfeed

This week, the government has put forward a Single Equality Bill, designed to give new mums the confidence to breastfeed their babies in public places.

Only one in five British women choose to breastfeed their baby for 6 months: lower than in the rest of Europe. Nine out of ten of those who give up before six weeks say the would have liked to have breastfeed for longer. But is breastfeeding in public really a factor which puts women off?

"Definitely!" says Ruth, mum of two from Croydon, "I tried not to care about people staring at me breastfeeding in parks and pub gardens, but in the end I just used to go to the toilets to do it! It was horrible, but you can't sit at home for six months. The thing is that they wouldn't have batted an eyelid if I'd have just got out a bottle. If I'd have known it was against the law for anyone to stop me, I might have had the confidence to go ahead regardless."

The health benefits of breastfeeding for baby and for mum are well documented, and in Europe steps have been taken to encourage mums by making the practical side easier too. Breastfeeding mums who go back to work in France, for example, are given two, half hour breaks during the day to express their milk. In Scotland, a law was passed in 2004 giving women the right to breastfeed in public.

Related links

Supernanny on why breast is best for baby

Related Advice