There are many ways to make nursing in public comfortable
Linda Clement was nursing her daughter, Fiona, in a restaurant when an older couple stopped at her table. The husband looked a bit embarrassed as his wife said to Clement: “That’s disgusting. People are eating here.”
Clement looked up at her, looked down at Fiona and replied: “Yeah, her too.” As Clement recalls: “The little old ladies at the next table all cracked up.”
Clement’s encounter with disapproval over breastfeeding in public ended with laughter, but for other women the experience has been more frustrating — sometimes even humiliating. It can be daunting for a new mother who wants to be out and about with her baby. You can’t help but be a little anxious: Will you offend others? Will you be asked to leave? What should you do?
Rest assured about one thing: The law is on your side. The Ontario and British Columbia Human Rights Commissions have specifically identified women’s right to breastfeed in any places where they have a right to be.
In other provinces, every case that has been brought to a human rights commission has been decided in favour of the breastfeeding mother and baby.
Breastfeeding in public has definitely become more common in recent years, but Pat Millar, a La Leche League leader in Dartmouth, NS, says it’s still not as readily accepted as it needs to be. “Breastfeeding mothers need to be able to go about their normal lives without worrying about comments from others or whether someone will be upset that they aren’t covered up enough,” explains Millar.
It’s one thing to know that you’d probably win a case in front of a human rights commission, and another thing trying to latch on a crying baby while avoiding glares from people around you.