Survey shows support for public breastfeeding

By Vaimoana Tapaleao

Petra Bagust. Photo / Supplied
Petra Bagust. Photo / Supplied

More than half of New Zealanders are okay with mothers breastfeeding in public, but a minority still prefer babies be fed in the restroom.

Results from the Breastmates breastfeeding survey, released yesterday, show 61 per cent feel comfortable with women breastfeeding in public.

However 19 per cent of those surveyed are not so keen.

Out of those who were not comfortable, 25 per cent agreed that when mothers were at a restaurant, they should be encouraged to breastfeed in the restroom - rather than at the table.

The remaining 23 per cent of that group believed that children aged 12 months and more should be breastfed in public.

Celebrity mum and well-known presenter Petra Bagust said she was happy to know that most Kiwis found it acceptable.

"I'm 100 per cent supportive of breastfeeding in public.

"Most mums are not out there flaunting it and they don't mean to offend anyone - they're just feeding their child and if you don't like it, turn around."

She says those who would rather see a mother feed her child in a restroom, rather than at a restaurant table, were themselves being inconsiderate.

"I think it would be normal if we were at a restaurant and your partner stood up to go to the toilet with a sandwich in their hand that you'd say: 'I'll hold that, love'. You wouldn't eat in a toilet, why have a baby eat there?"

The Nielsen survey also showed 47 per cent of females were comfortable with breastfeeding in public, compared with 28 per cent of males, and 38 per cent of women strongly agreed that mothers should breastfeed at a restaurant table - and not in the loo - compared with 27 per cent who thought otherwise.

Bagust, who has three children now aged 7, 5 and 3, said she breastfed all her children, one of whom was breastfed until they were about a year and a half.

"That was never a day-time feed. It was always at night and not in public. But I think it all depends on the family and it's a cultural norm.

"What's different to us is completely normal to another family," she said.

Frances McInnes, founder of online maternity store Breastmates, said the aim of the survey was to encourage debate while also promoting the idea that everyone's experience with feeding a newborn was different.

- NZ Herald

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