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Breastfeeding in Public

Breastfeeding in public constitutes societal norms towards women nursing their children in a public space. Public breastfeeding is also concerned with laws that either allow or prohibit this action. Every woman has her own opinion about nursing a baby in a public place that is usually shaped by her background and upbringing. Some individuals consider it perfectly normal while others find it rude and indecent. Many others are still concerned with preserving the health of both the mother and her baby and strive to support the woman’s right to nurse in public places.

Attitudes by Region

In Canada, for instance, the law does not allow discrimination against women who breast in public. However, there has been a case in June 2009 when a woman was asked to leave a Wal-Mart because she was nursing her child. The company later apologized, saying women can breastfeed anywhere they like in the store. In contrast, breastfeeding in Shanghai is considered shameful, whereas in Germany people feel a lot more comfortable with it, but there has been a decline in its occurrence in recent years. Interestingly, in Saudi Arabia, women openly breastfeed their children wherever they feel is necessary. Many countries have legislation that specifically deals with breastfeeding in public, and Taiwan is one of those countries. Taiwanese women are allowed by law to nurse babies in public and prohibiting of this act is punishable by law. United Kingdom is another country that protects the woman’s right to breastfeed in a public place, and there are more people who find it acceptable than those who are concerned with being discriminated against for doing so. In the United States, women are permitted to breastfeed on Federal government property, although this rule is not strictly followed when it comes to private property.

Recent Controversies

As opinions on public breastfeeding are divided, there are bound to be controversies. In late 2006, a woman was refused service in Vermont for not accepting to feed her baby under a cover. In late 2007, a lady in Kentucky was asked to cover up while she was breastfeeding in a restaurant, and while deciding to go along, she later organized protests to raise awareness about this type of discrimination. Facebook also came under scrutiny for removing photos of women breastfeeding their children. Taking into consideration such controversies, and given that the Supreme Court of the United States allows ladies to nurse in public places, lots of states passed legislation permitting women to breastfeed freely. There is even a law allowing
employees to take breaks from work, and nurse their children in places other than the bathroom if the child is less than a year old.

Recent Developments on Breastfeeding in Public – Statistical Data

In the United States, statistical data from the past 5 years show slight improvement in the percentage of women who choose to nurse babies in public. There are many factors that contribute to this increase and some include communal, employer, and family support. At the same time, it has been found that hospitals need to do more to help mothers and babies with the initial stage of breastfeeding as less than 5% of children are born in hospitals that are not designated for delivery. More efforts have been reported by employers as well as child care centers accommodating breastfeeding mothers.

There are many initiatives nationwide that have been promoting breastfeeding simply because of its health benefits to the child by not interfering with the mother’s choice to nurse in a public space. In many hospitals that are providing delivery of babies people are trying to cultivate breastfeeding more so than in recent years. The World Health Organization together with UNICEF distinguishes and shows appreciation for hospitals and birth centers that offer a substantial degree of care for mothers and their newborns. To be considered Baby Friendly, the center has to meet many requirement proposed by the two organizations.

Support for Mothers Who Breastfeed

There are a lot of local and state kinds of support groups that help pregnant women and new mothers who are breastfeeding. Some include other ladies with children helping those with young babies, while others provide more of a professional kind of assistance. There are even centers that specialized in clinical management of breastfeeding, and they can be found in health and hospital settings. In addition, as health departments on the state level are responsible for ensuring proper care for nursing mothers and their babies, their employees work on improving the conditions that the new mothers are faced with, as well as protecting a woman’s right to nurse and spreading awareness. Finally, lots of child care centers all over the country are trying to keep up and provide the best service possible, given that almost two thirds of babies are taken care of by someone other than a parent.

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