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Family

Daughter's decision to breastfeed in public

I read in the paper about a café where staff asked a mother not to breastfeed in public and I noticed it whipped up quite a controversy...

By Diane Levy
Dear Diane,
I read in the paper about a café where staff asked a mother not to breastfeed in public and I noticed it whipped up quite a controversy. Personally, I’m on the side of the café and would have taken my baby elsewhere to feed because I know it makes some people feel uncomfortable. However, my daughter, who is the mum of a baby herself, disagrees and says she has every right to enjoy a coffee too. If other customers don’t want to see her feeding, they should just look away. We agreed to disagree, but I’ve noticed she hasn’t suggested we go out for coffee since. Should I bring it up and risk a row or wait for it to blow over?
Kathy, Manawatu
Dear Kathy,
There is often quite a gap between what is acceptable or unacceptable from one generation to the next. Two clear differences are what a woman wears when she is pregnant and how and where she breastfeeds. My generation wore loose-fitting, unrevealing marquees to cover up and breastfed discreetly – often shutting ourselves away. This generation (about one-and-a-half generations younger) often wears very close-fitting clothing, even bikinis, and are very proud of their bumps.
Breastfeeding has become much more public and shutting oneself away from fun and company is reserved for those with fussy, sensitive babies. I would recommend you stay away from a discussion about who is right and who is wrong, and what the rights are of the café owner, the mother, the other patrons and also the child.
You are of the generation that is far more concerned about the responsibilities and this difference has led to your daughter feeling criticised – even though you may never have meant it that way. I have Googled child-friendly cafés in your area and there are several. Why not pick one and suggest you and your daughter meet there?
Diane Levy provides expert answers to your parenting queries. Send your questions to family@nzww.co.nz. Diane’s parenting books are available in book shops.

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