'Law rests with breastfeeding mums' say Notts campaigners
Controversy surrounds whether breastfeeding mums should be free to nurse their babies in public.
A Notts mum said she was ashamed to feed her child after a shocking incident in a Nottingham Chemist.
Hucknall mum Catherine Porter says she was “livid” after a pharmacist tried to cover her with a towel while she was breastfeeding in his shop.
The 19-year-old mum had visited the Canning Chemist in Nottingham with five-month-old Mya when the incident took place.
She said: “The towel was heavy, dirty and I wouldn’t say it was light enough for her to breathe through.
“I am a young mum and I chose to give my baby the best start in life by breastfeeding. I have never been made to feel so disgusting for feeding a child and I’m in complete and utter disbelief that I was treated this way. It has made me feel as if breastfeeding is the wrong thing to do.”
Opinions are divided over whether mums should be free to breastfeed wherever they are, or if discretion should be used.
But Nottinghamshire Healthcare infant feeding team leader Theresa Drozdowska said the law has changed to make sure breastfeeding mums are protected in public.
She added: “Since the Equality Act 2010 the law changed in favour of the mums, so if someone complains it’s the complainant that should be asked to leave not the mum.
“We’re working to establish a breastfeeding friendly culture, but still quite a few mums are saying ‘we have support at the hospital and at home but what’s the point if we can’t go out and feed in public?’”
There are numerous benefits to breastfeeding, in addition to helpings mums and babies build relationships, she added. It also protects against numerous illnesses, building immune systems in the tots and staving off breast and ovarian cancer in mums.
The pharmacist at Canning Chemist, in Beastmarket Hill, Nottingham, who asked not to be named, confirmed he covered the breastfeeding mum with a towel but denied ‘throwing’ the towel.
He said: “It was held in front of her to cover her. Nothing was thrown at them. We’re a pharmacy, we don’t throw things over our customers.”
“We have all ages that come in from young to old. People can do that in public if they wish. But because we had customers we felt it was appropriate.
“We didn’t realise we were offending them but apparently so.”
The Dispatch asked the pharmacist if he agreed stigmas surrounding mums nursing babies only change if they have the confidence to breastfeed in the open.
He added: “We’re not against it at all. The culture may change and one day there will be breast feeding in the Market Square. It’s something I felt was appropriate to do, we’ve offered it in the past and it’s been fine. Often people have their own shawls and cover up themselves.”
Plenty of support for Catherine came in on the Dispatch Facebook page.
Celia Pogmore said: “There is no shame in feeding a baby – you do what’s best for you.”
Helen Adair said the incident on May 4 was “absolutely disgusting”. She added: “I fed both of my babies when they needed feeding.
“If that meant in public then that was where it was.”