A new survey has found that one in four top British restaurants would not allow breastfeeding in public.
Seven percent of establishments questioned said they placed an outright ban on breastfeeding in their establishments. A mum who discreetly tried to breastfeed her baby at the table would be asked to stop or leave the restaurant.
Another 17% of those polled said they wouldn't allow it in public. They placed restrictions on breastfeeding that would prevent mothers from feeding their babies near other diners. Most of those would force mothers to breastfeed in the toilet, but the lobby was also offered as an alternative.
A further 15% declared that breastfeeding was permitted if done discreetly. If mentioned when booking, you would be seated in a corner or alternatively asked to cover up while feeding. However, one restaurant from this group commented that they would ask you to stop breastfeeding if another customer complained.
The poll suggests just how far attitudes have to change in England and Wales since new legislation came in on 6 April 2008 that stipulates nursing mothers feeding babies up to a year old can no longer be told to leave public places. In Scotland, it has been an offence for any venue that normally admits children to ban breastfeeding since March 2005.
The telephone poll was conducted by Kamillosan Chamomile Ointment.
Lucy Symons, spokeswoman for Kamillosan and registered doula, said: "It is ridiculous that in 2008, a mother cannot do one of the most natural acts and feed her baby in a restaurant while she eats.
"A baby is just as entitled to eat in a comfortable, clean environment as an adult, so it's just not acceptable for his or her mum to be forced to feed in the toilet and this is no way to encourage a new mum to keep persevering with breastfeeding.
"Breastfeeding is hard enough for new mums without worrying whether they will be allowed to feed their baby while meeting friends for lunch or be asked to leave like a criminal."
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What do you think? Is breastfeeding in public really that offensive? Your comments: (Terms and conditions apply)
"THis is such a shame but true to life! We still see breasts as mainly sexual. If we talked about banning 'FEEDing' babies in public there would be an outcry. There are many bodily parts that have a 'dual' function and breasts are one of them!!" - Helen Nash, Canterbury
"There is nothing whatsoever offensive about breastfeeding in public. It is downright discriminatory that the laws regarding public breastfeeding in England & Wales are not exactly the same as the laws in Scotland. Breastfeeding mothers, infants & supporters throughout England & Wales ought to organise a protest and gather together outside No10 to demandsame equal breastfeeding freedoms that mothers and babies in Scotland are
entitled to. We ALL reside in place called Britain so the Government are a bunch hypocrites on this issue. It is an unfortunate reflection on our society & culture that legislation is needed to protect mothers & infants whilst breastfeeding in public but it is an absolute necessity in the drive to alter current public perception and attitude." - Sarah Hosking, Gtr Manchester
"It is ridiculous that something that is so natural should be frowned upon in this day and age. The restaurants should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves and should be named and shamed." - Alison Nugent, Wirral
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