|Breastfeeding Sprout at the Christmas Market|
When I read a post by my friend Lori (aka the Write Mama) about two cases of two different moms being asked to cover up or move while breastfeeding, I was appalled. One was at ABC Family Restaurant in Coquitlam & the other was at a StrongStart program, of all places. (StrongStart is an publicly-funded early childhood education program, aimed at ensuring kids are ready for kindergarten.) Read about how ABC Restaurant has taken steps to improve the situation & the rest of the stories here on The Write Mama.
Having a baby is complicated & difficult enough without people humiliating you in public by telling you that feeding your hungry baby or toddler is somehow offensive. As Lori points out in her post, the BC Human Rights Code enshrines breastfeeding as a protected right for mothers anywhere:
“It is illegal to discriminate against a woman because she may become pregnant, is pregnant, or has a baby. Nursing mothers have the right to breastfeed their children in a public area, and it is discriminatory to ask them to cover up or breastfeed somewhere else.”This means in a restaurant, at StrongStart, on the bus, at the park, wherever. When I was breastfeeding Sprout, no-one ever asked me to cover up or leave. & I breastfed him in public a lot. For over two years. I considered it my duty as a breastfeeding advocate to breastfeed in public, without a cover, wherever he was hungry. That meant on the bus, in the park, in restaurants & cafes, in stores, everywhere. For a full list of some of the oddest places I've breastfed, see this post: Baby's Gotta Eat.
Whether you have children or not, it doesn't matter--you can still help. Mothers--especially sleep-deprived, post-partum-hormonal new moms--shouldn't have to deal with being humiliated in public by being told they're offending people. They shouldn't have to defend their rights constantly. If you see someone asking a mom to cover up or leave when she's breastfeeding: please intervene. Tell the waitress or StrongStart teacher or whoever it is that's infringing that mom's rights what the law is.
Here are a few more ways you can help spread the word:
- Share my post & Lori's on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, tell your friends.
- If you own a business, please educate your staff about the law to make sure they don't ever ask a woman to cover up or leave while breastfeeding. It doesn't matter if another patron claims to be uncomfortable--they can move or look away.
- If you're not in BC, please familiarize yourself with your province's or state's laws that protect breastfeeding. Here is a summary of US state laws & here's a little info for Canadians.
- If you're currently breastfeeding, keep doing it in public & do it without a cover if you can!
Have you ever been discriminated against for breastfeeding in public? Share your stories here in the comments. & please let me know if you shared this post!
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