|Breast is best but nearly half of Dutch people
would prefer not to see breastfeeding mothers
near them in public
Photo: Carin Araujo
There has been lots of press coverage in the Netherlands recently about breastfeeding: the lack of acceptance in public places for breastfeeding, the lack of facilities for breastfeeding mothers and so on. If you take a peek in pregnancy and birth forums the topic of how to discreetly breastfeed your baby in public generally comes up. Many women feel uncomfortable doing it outside the home (me included) but it remains a necessity for most unless you choose to become a hermit for months on end. After all, it is a generally accepted message that breastfeeding is the best, healthiest way to feed babies. So shouldn’t it be encouraged as much as possible?
I speak from experience when I say that trying to find a warm, dry, quiet place to breastfeed is a challenge in itself – and that whilst a baby is screaming for a feed…. I have ended up in an office in a first aid hut at the Efteling, a changing room in Peek & Cloppenburg, a dark corner at a table in a pancake restaurant, a toilet cubicle and a far flung table in a restaurant in Blijdorp, a woody hill in a French theme park and the front seat of our car at a service station or side of the road more times than I care to mention. The concept of a place to breastfeed a baby seems lost on many places, even if they are geared especially to children……
The only place that springs to mind where breastfeeding mothers are well catered for is Euro Disney in Paris where there is a heated room set aside, with chairs, for those mothers who wish to feed their babies in relative calm and peace. I have noticed that my local H&M in Zoetermeer also has an area for feeding but I have never been inside (I think you have to go and ask for the key). But in general facilities are poor if you want to breastfeed your baby in public areas.
How are breastfeeding facilities where you live? Is breastfeeding in public encouraged or frowned upon?