Breastfeeding out and about
Breastfeeding is the normal and natural way to feed your baby and you should feel proud and confident in your decision to breastfeed. There are advantages to breastfeeding for even short periods. To make the most of these advantages you should aim to:
- Breastfeed exclusively for the first six months
- Continue breastfeeding after that, for as long as you can, as part of your baby’s healthy diet.
Your baby can look for food or comfort anywhere and at anytime. Feel free to offer your baby a breastfeed whenever and wherever he or she needs it.
When out and about remember:
- You don’t have to ask to breastfeed. You can breastfeed anywhere you and your baby want or need to.
- Make it easier for yourself by wearing trousers or a skirt with a jumper, sweatshirt or T-shirt that can be pulled up from the waist. If possible wear a maternity bra that can be opened from the front with one hand.
- Feed early. Don’t wait until your baby gets too hungry or distressed, that way you’ll both be more relaxed and feeding will go more smoothly.
Breastfeeding offers comfort as well as food, that’s why breastfed babies are generally more easily settled.
To help build your confidence:
- If you feel unsure about breastfeeding outside home bring your partner or a friend along for support until you become more confident.
- You may want to choose a seat in a quiet corner where you can turn your back to the room, or you could consider putting a shawl or baby blanket over your shoulder and baby.
- Find out if there are any restaurants, shopping centres, hotels or other places in your area that particularly welcome breastfeeding mothers. The numbers of these are growing, as more and more mothers in Ireland are breastfeeding.
- If you would prefer more privacy, ask if the restaurant, hotel or shopping centre has a private feeding room (not a toilet area) available for your use.
Breastfeeding makes it easy to go anywhere with your baby, particularly when you are travelling by car, bus, train or air. You don’t have to carry feeding equipment or worry about keeping bottles fresh and germ free.
Take advantage of the freedom breastfeeding gives you by getting out and about or visiting friends and family.
What are your rights?
If you are happy to breastfeed in a public area the owner, manager or staff of these premises (on their own behalf or on behalf of another customer) are not allowed to ask you to use separate facilities, or ask you to leave.
If you inform management and staff that you are being harassed by other customers for breastfeeding in public, they have a duty to protect you from this.
There are two pieces of legislation that protect breastfeeding mothers from discrimination* or harassment** while breastfeeding, The Equal Status Act (2000) and The Intoxicating Liquor Act (2003)
The Equal Status Act (2000) protects people from discrimination and harassment (including sexual harassment) in the use of and access to a wide range of services including shops and restaurants. Protection for mums breastfeeding in public is provided under two of the nine discriminatory grounds covered by the Act, Gender and Family Status. This Act helps mums to breastfeed comfortably in public places by protecting them from being discriminated against or harassed because they are breastfeeding.
The Intoxicating Liquor Act (2003) - Section 19 Protects against discrimination occurring in a public house and provides access to the District Court for redress.
*Discrimination is less favourable treatment, for example, asking someone to leave a premises because they are breastfeeding.
**Harassment is unwanted conduct (of a sexual nature in the case of sexual harassment) related to any of the discriminatory grounds covered by the Equal Status Act which has the purpose or effect of violating a person's dignity and creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for the person, in this case a breastfeeding mother.
For information on the Equal Status Act 2000 contact the Equality Authority on LoCall 1890-245 545 or visit www.equality.ie