Labour MP Rosie Cooper believes we should show greater tolerance towards women who breastfeed their children in public places because of the health benefits for babies. There is a wealth of research to suggest that breast milk is the ideal first food for most babies. However, according to the World Health Organisation only one in five babies in the UK are breastfed, which means the UK has one of the lowest breastfeeding rates in Europe.
One of the major barriers to increasing the rate of breastfeeding is social attitudes, especially towards breastfeeding in public places.
Rosie Cooper MP said:
“It seems quite strange to me that in the 21st Century we still have hang-ups about women breastfeeding their children in public places. We need a responsible attitude from everyone towards breastfeeding in public places. We also need is for appropriate facilities to be provided for women who want greater privacy when breastfeeding. If a women chooses to breastfeed their child in a public place they should not be prevented from doing so.”
“As a former Chair of Liverpool Women’s Hospital I am only too aware of the health benefits for babies if they are breastfed. Therefore, if we are to increase the rate of breastfeeding in the UK then we must take steps to tackle any barriers that may exist, including social attitudes.”
The Early Day Motion reads:
That this House recognises the benefits of breastfeeding for babies and welcomes the provisions of the recently introduced Breastfeeding etc. Bill which propose to address some of society's attitudes to breastfeeding; notes that research shows that breast milk is the ideal first food for most babies; regrets that the UK has one of the lowest breastfeeding rates in Europe, with just one in five babies receiving breastmilk by the time they are six months old, although the World Health Organisation recommends that babies need nothing other than breastmilk for the first six months of life; is deeply concerned that many mothers report having been harassed for breastfeeding in public, while others have stopped breastfeeding early or chosen not to breastfeed as they have anticipated embarrassment or difficulties in feeding their babies whilst in public; supports UNICEF's call for legislation to protect breastfeeding mothers' rights to feed their babies in public areas and the Baby Friendly Initiative; appreciates that social attitudes are slowly changing but that there is a long way to go; and calls for greater understanding and positive attitudes to ensure that breastfeeding is a normal part of everyday life.