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Discrimination Against Breastfeeding in Public Still A Problem for Many Mothers

© Esther

Here is a story regarding breastfeeding, which is relevant due to the recent changes to laws to protect women who breastfeed in public.

On Saturday the 4th of November myself and my son attended a games night at a local Community Centre.

I had been once before 5 or 6 months ago. The majority of attendees are young males.

After we paid to enter I was taken aside by the person at the desk. He told me there had been some complaints by the parents about me breast feeding my youngest child the last time I was there. He said if I want to feed her again I have to go into another room (which he pointed out to me). I asked how many parents complained, and he said three or more. Though my toddler is now bigger and breastfeeding in public is no longer an issue, I felt quite shocked.

I thought back- it was late, my toddler was tired, so I held her to me to suckle for about 15 minutes to get her to sleep. I am sure very little would have been revealed. I have always been discreet whilst breastfeeding.

Later that night I saw a little boy who looked no more than seven whose card covers depicted a raunchy, scantily dressed woman on the back of each card. This is accepted, and I am discriminated against! It's not fair!

I don't want to make trouble for the community centre who do a good job in providing facilitated fun for kids. But I assume the centre made the decision to allocate me a room in which to breastfeed, based on arcaic beliefs. I would have preferred that they suggest to the parents who complained that breastfeeding in public is acceptable. The parents could perhaps tell their children to leave the room if they see someone breastfeeding if they do not wish for them to be exposed to the sight of some bunched up clothing and the back of a babies' head.

This occurred in a community centre, I think they may even have brochures on display promoting health issues such as breastfeeding.

I felt I had to bring this out in the open as breastfeeding for as long as possible is easy, healthy, natural, cheap, efficient and should be a much more acceptable way to nurture our children than some people regard it today. I feel there need to educate the ignorant, in order to help people for the future.

I contacted the Australian Breastfeeding Association who were fully supportive of me, and are quite happy to comment on the subject should anybody wish to contact them.

I telephoned the Community centre that following Thursday and spoke to the co-ordinater there, expecting maybe a little apology and a mention to pass it on to the people involved, and let it lie there.

Before I had finished outlining the details of the incident the co-ordinater of the centre cut me off and said that he hadn't heard of the incident but he totally agreed that I should go into another room to feed my baby in order to protect the children. He sounded disgusted that I had ever breastfed in the same room as children. He then stated that they (at the centre I believe) are mandatory reporters, and will report me for child abuse on the basis of exposing them to sexuality. I was livid. Even when I told him I was writing everything he was saying down he still was adamant in his belief that I should breastfeed away from the sight of children.

I have been breastfeeding for 5 1/2 years straight now, (more than one child) and this is the first time anyone has said anything.

I have become so accustomed to breastfeeding in public, (and so we all should be) that I had no defences when confronted by these people!

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Together with the support of my family, my aim is to help parents educate their children in stress-free, nurturing environments. In addition to building and maintaing this website, I continue to create and manage local and national home educating networks, help to organise conferences and camps, as well as write for, edit and produce newsletters, resource directories and magazines. I am an active supporter of national, state, regional and local home education groups.

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We began educating our children in 1985, when our eldest was five. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn since they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. We hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was! Beverley Paine

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