Breastfeeding is part of everyday life
Some people find it difficult or scary to feed their baby when they’re out and about. This is perfectly normal. It’s an experience that every breastfeeding parent goes through. Most of the families we spoke to said that breastfeeding in public gets easier over time.
Breastfeeding & UK Law
The Equality Act 2010 protects all parents who choose to breastfeed in any public space. This includes shops, restaurants, parks & public transport.
It is illegal to ask a person breastfeeding to move* or cover up, or to provide a lower level of service. Negatively commenting on a woman breastfeeding in public is considered a form of discrimination.
*except where there are safety risks, e.g. proximity to radiation or some chemicals.
You can find out more about feeding in public on the Maternity Action website.
How can I support breastfeeding in public?
There are lots of ways that you can help make feeding in public a better experience for parents in Nottingham.
Give them space
Especially if you are in a crowded environment. If you’re worried that moving away might give them the wrong impression, you could ask them first.
You could say: “Would you like some more space? I’m happy to move if that helps you get more comfortable.“
Lots of parents we spoke to said that a smile from a stranger is all it takes to make them feel happier and more confident about feeding in public.
Be an active bystander
Unfortunately, many people do not know that breastfeeding is protected by law. If you see or hear another person making a breastfeeding parent feel uncomfortable about feeding in public, think of ways that you could reassure the parent. You could reassure them vocally, or make eye contact and smile. Remember that breastfeeding rights are protected by UK Law. If you feel that the parent’s legal rights are being ignored, you can call the police. If you’re in a commercial venue, you could alert a member of staff or security.
If you run or work in a commercial venue (eg. a café, restaurant, or pub), there are lots of things you can do to make breastfeeding families feel welcome.
Make them comfortable
Consider if there’s anything you can do to make a parent more comfortable while they feed their baby. Could you offer them a glass of water, or somewhere to sit down? Sometimes it’s better to ask, rather than assume.
You could ask: “Is there anything I can do to make you and your baby more comfortable while you feed?”