Blog: Breastfeeding must not be taboo

Catherine Sleep | 18 September 2003

A talk show host has sparked controversy in Australia by breastfeeding her newborn son on television during a broadcast. She was probably making a provocative statement but it may help push back the boundaries, and not before time. After all, lawmaker Kirsty Marshall was recently asked to leave the state parliament chamber in Victoria when she began feeding her baby, and Australia is far from alone in struggling with breastfeeding.

Few dispute that breastfeeding is good for both baby and mother, but several newish mums of my acquaintance have experienced negative reactions to public breastfeeding or spent unhappy hours wandering around with a screaming, hungry baby trying to find somewhere moderately private. The old hands tend to get hardened to it and shrug off disapproving looks.

More stores, malls and the like could provide clean, comfortable mother-and-baby rooms, that would help. But the real change needs to start with our attitude. Yes, it can be a little awkward when a mother starts breastfeeding her child on the seat next to us on the bus, but we all need to just relax a little and accept that it’s natural, healthy and generally best not to keep baby waiting until a more “appropriate” time.

A great deal of flesh is bared in magazines, adverts and films these days – time to stop feeling embarrassed when we see breasts being used for their original purpose, methinks.

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