One in six mums say they've had unwanted sexual attention while breastfeeding
Breastfeeding can be great to build a bond between mum and baby and pass on all those nutrients.
But although we’ve come a long way, feeding in public can still attract some negativity.
In fact, 16% of new mums said they’d been eyed up by someone they didn’t know while breastfeeding their baby in a public place.
And 8% said they’ve even received suggestive comments while they were feeding their baby.
While most hadn’t received those sorts of comments, 66% said they been made to feel uncomfortable when breastfeeding their babies in public, according to the data by baby brand Tommee Tippee.
Some said they were stared at by strangers, while others have had derisive comments.
More than a quarter (26%) of the 1,000 women surveyed had been tutted at, 27% had been told by a stranger to go elsewhere to feed, and one in 10 had been asked by restaurant or cafe staff to either cover up or leave the premises.
And the way others react to breastfeeding mothers had a real impact on their confidence around it – almost four in 10 (37%) new mums have felt so self-conscious about breastfeeding their baby when out and about that they’ve frequently cut their trip short to go home and feed in private.
Two thirds (66%) make sure they always have a scarf or a pashmina so they can cover up while breastfeeding when outside the home.
Some mums also end up feeding in uncomfortable places to avoid the stares of others – 21% have fed their baby in a public toilet, 40% have hidden in a corner in order to breastfeed their baby, while 37% have fed their baby in their parked car so no one would see.
Commenting on the research, Louise Broadbridge, Senior Midwife, said: ‘For the majority of new mums, the first few weeks are generally spent at home whilst both mum and baby get to grips with breastfeeding. However, there comes a point when it is time to venture out into the big wide world and that often means breastfeeding in public.
‘For any new mum who feels nervous about feeding in public, remind yourself that what is important is meeting your baby’s needs. We know many parents struggle in establishing breastfeeding, which has led them to switch to formula feeding.
‘One of the most valuable things that expectant parents can do in preparation for breastfeeding is gain a really sound knowledge of how breastfeeding works. Understanding how milk volume can be maximised and latch problems avoided will make all the difference in your breastfeeding journey.’
Said Nicola Wallace, spokesperson for Tommee Tippee: ‘This research reveals just how much stigma still exists around breastfeeding in the UK.
‘Making the decision to breastfeed is a very personal one and also one that’s likely to draw opinions from friends and family. But you and your baby are unique so swot up on the facts, then trust your instinct and do what is right for you both.’
Meanwhile, some mums are unable to or choose not to breastfeed and 30% of them said they had been made to feel guilty for not breastfeeding their baby, with 32% saying they had felt inadequate for not being able to breastfeed.
The top reasons that women struggle to breastfeed were the baby having problems latching on (27%) not feeling they had enough milk (24%) and finding breastfeeding very painful (21%).
The survey was released to mark World Breastfeeding Week 2020, which started yesterday and runs until Friday.
Despite changing attitudes, 89% of those surveyed said there is still a lot of stigma around breastfeeding.
To try to break down that stigma, Tommee Tippee will be hosting a week-long digital festival in celebration of all things breastfeeding.
Parents will receive daily top tips, hear from other mums’ real experiences and partake in live Q&A sessions with influencers and midwives.
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