A new survey of 2,393 people has revealed that while 72% of people in Great Britain support women breastfeeding in public, 6 out of 10 women try to hide it – and a third are embarrassed doing it outside the home.
The poll was carried out by Start4Life, Public Health England’s parenting advice site, which also found that 1 in 5 thought people didn’t want them to breastfeed in public.
It is illegal to ask a breastfeeding woman to leave a public place, and trends like Brelfies – women, including high profile celebrities, sharing photos of themselves breastfeeding, often in public – have brought breastfeeding into the spotlight over the last year or so.
Dr Gill Thomson, from the University of Lancashire’s Maternal and Infant Nutrition and Nurture Unit, says: “Worries about stigma and embarrassment around breastfeeding can lead to some women feeling unable or unwilling to breastfeed in public. This can lead to isolation and some women stopping breastfeeding before they intended to.
“Breastfeeding is the most natural, healthy, best start a mother can provide for her infant. While legislation is in place to support public breastfeeding, more needs to be done to address the negative cultural attitudes that can undermine this choice.”
Chatting about these findings, the MFM team admits we’re not actually that surprised to find so many women still feel a bit awkward nursing in public – despite what seems to be a growing acceptance of it.
After all, most of us are told from a young age to cover up, and so to suddenly be OK with getting part-naked in front of people once we have a baby (even if they’re OK with it) is kind of the opposite of what many of us have been doing for years. And maybe concealing our bodies has become such a habit, it almost feels counter-intuitive now to do one of the most natural things in the world.
What do you think?
Did you/are you breastfeeding? Do you feel embarrassed or are you OK with it? Or maybe you didn’t breastfeed but have an opinion on other women doing it in certain places? Tell us what you think in the comments below.