Breastfeeding in public to be a legal right?

Cafe owners and employers will be among those forced to allow mothers to breastfeed on their premises if legislation drawn up by a Labour MP is passed.

Steve Chadwick has highlighted cases of mothers being told to stop feeding their babies at schools, swimming pools and even hospitals.

"No longer will some cafe owners, businesses and childcare facilities ask mothers to leave their premises when her child needs to be fed," she said today.

"The Human Rights Commission has heard astonishing examples of negative reactions to breastfeeding in places such as swimming pools, food courts and schools."

Ms Chadwick's Infant Feeding Bill has been put in the ballot box for members' bills and has to wait to be drawn before it goes on Parliament's agenda.

She said it would end discrimination against breastfeeding mothers by changing the Human Rights Act.

The Rotorua MP, a former midwife, gave these examples of discrimination:

* A breastfeeding mother was asked to leave the library at Te Papa after being told it might offend other people

* A group of young mothers who were breastfeeding their babies in a Dunedin cafe were asked to stop, and when they refused they were told to leave because they were displaying "the wrong image"

* A nurse in a public hospital had to sit on a toilet when she expressed milk because there were no facilities

"This lack of provision for breastfeeding facilities in the workplace is a common problem for New Zealand women," Ms Chadwick said.

"All that mothers are asking for is a private space to sit comfortably to breastfeed or express milk."

Ms Chadwick said her bill provided guidelines to employers.

"Feeding babies in staff toilets will be a thing of the past."

Ms Chadwick said breastfeeding rates were dropping in New Zealand, and she was launching her bill today because August 1 marks the beginning of World Breastfeeding Week.

- NZPA

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