PARENTS

Breastfeeding In Public: Time For Some Common Sense?

14/08/2014 17:01 | Updated 20 May 2015

Breastfeeding protests

Let's just get a few things clarified first. I am all for breastfeeding in public. My wife did it on many occasions when feeding our three children, and it didn't bother me one bit. She was discreet and considerate, and not once did she receive any disapproving looks or comments.

I am also very aware that I am a man, and therefore perhaps not completely qualified to comment on this subject; and so bear in mind that what comes next is purely my opinion.

Recently a mum was told to leave a branch of Sports Direct by staff because she was breastfeeding her baby, which prompted a flash mob of over a hundred mums a day or so later, each one breastfeeding in protest.

Some might say that this is a wonderful show of solidarity. I say that protests such as this give breastfeeding mums a bad name.

Wioletta Komar was well within her rights to breastfeed in Sports Direct. The Equality Act 2010 states that a mother cannot be 'treated unfavourably' because she is breastfeeding - it doesn't say that a mother can breastfeed wherever she wants - and it is this law that a member of staff at Sports Direct broke when telling her she had to leave. It is worth noting that it's not illegal to be offended by breastfeeding.

My issue is not with Wioletta, nor with any mother who breastfeeds in public; it is with the massive over-reaction that her ejection from the shop caused.

Mothers Stage Breastfeeding Protest at Sports Direct

Having a hundred parents stage a protest risks making breastfeeding mums look snobby, even arrogant. It's like they're saying 'I can breastfeed in public, this is my right, and I am shielded from any kind of contrary opinion because it is LAW and therefore I can disregard the feelings of others'.

But this is where they are wrong. Yes, it is law that breastfeeding mums cannot be discriminated against, but that doesn't mean that you can't apply a bit of common sense and logic. The majority of mums who breastfeed in public want to do so without a fuss, and so they find a suitable and comfortable place to sit and feed their baby. It's not about showing too much flesh, because the majority of breastfeeding mothers don't. It's about common courtesy and consideration of others.

As I said: my problem is not with breastfeeding in public. My issue is with the massive reaction it causes every time someone is asked to move or leave, and the storm it generates. In my opinion, it highlights the issue and the discrimination but doesn't solve the problem; and, in fact, I believe it can do more harm than good.

It risks giving people a negative view of breastfeeding mothers, assuming that each one is a 'militant mum' who will bring the whole force of the law crashing down on you if you so much as look at them in a strange way.

Yes, it is beautful. And yes, it is natural. No one is disputing this; but it is not an excuse for a lack of consideration.

What do you think? Do you think breastfeeding flash mobs are an effective protest?

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