Call for law on public breastfeeding

Proposals to give women the legal right to breastfeed in public and take work breaks to express milk for their infants will be put before health ministers this week.

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The guidelines, drawn up by a coalition of leading support groups including the Royal College of Midwives and the National Childbirth Trust, will urge businesses to provide facilities for breastfeeding mothers and call on ministers to consider making it an offence to bar women from breastfeeding in restaurants, shops and elsewhere, such as on public transport.

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The move follows concern over statistics that reveal only one fifth of British women breastfeed their babies for the full six months recommended by the government and the World Health Organisation.

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Other European countries have introduced measures allowing women to take breaks during the working day to express milk, so that it can be fed to their babies the following day by childminders or nursery staff. In France, women with a child under 12 months are entitled to two half hour breaks a day. Legislation making it an offence to stop a women breastfeeding in public was passed in Scotland in 2004.

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