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Health Committee

14th Report, 2004 (Session 2)

Stage 1 Report on the Breastfeeding etc. (Scotland) Bill

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SP Paper 240

Session 2 (2004)

 

SUBMISSION BY TRANSPORT AND GENERAL WORKERS' UNION SCOTLAND

T&G Scotland welcome the opportunity to contribute to the Health Committee's consultation on the general principles of the Bill. We are supportive of the broad principles of the proposed Breastfeeding etc (Scotland) Bill and the key provisions it sets out.

Our understanding of the main purpose of the Bill is to make it an offence to deliberately prevent or stop (or attempt to do so) a person from breastfeeding or bottle feeding a child in a public place or licensed premises, where a child is lawfully permitted to be on such premises. The Bill also proposes to impose certain duties on Scottish Minister's to encourage, support and promote breastfeeding. It is also our understanding that the Bill does not intend to prevent businesses from excluding breastfeeding on its premises where the lawful practice is to exclude children generally.

As the Health Committee has indicated that for the purpose of this inquiry it is looking only for additional submissions relating to the Bill as introduced and on the following points.

· Do you support the general principles of the Bill and the key provisions it sets out.

· Are there any omissions from the bill that you would like to see added

· What are your views on the quality of consultation, and the implementation of key concerns?

· Have you any comment on the practical implications of putting the provisions in place and consideration of alternative approaches

T&G Scotland wish the following comments to be taken into account in the Committee's Inquiry.

· T&G Scotland is of the view that the areas the Bill seeks to address surround important health issues and we are broadly supportive of the general principles of the bill and key provisions it sets out.

· As there has been a sustained effort both at Scottish and UK Government level, and through the National Health Service, in trying to promoting breastfeeding, we feel that the fact that there is no clear legal right to breastfeed in public and that it is not illegal to request that a breastfeeding mother and baby leave public places or licensed premises, is an anomaly.

· We recognise the fact that there has been no overt commitment made by our society towards breastfeeding - despite the efforts of government and other organisations to promote it. However, the proposed law would validate the right to breastfeed in Scots law and would send a strong message that society supports breastfeeding.

· We are aware that a number of studies have shown that breastfeeding has major health benefits for both mother and baby. Indeed, breastfed babies have a reduced risk of many common conditions, such as chest infections, and many of these benefits carry on throughout childhood and beyond.

· We are of the view that if government and society, on the whole, accepts the benefits of breastfeeding and promote these benefits, it seems reasonable to commit to that by passing legislation to make it illegal to stop a baby being breastfed in the places outlined in the bill.

· As a trade union that is conscious of the need to assist new mothers who wish to exercise the choice of returning to work at a time appropriate to them, we would welcome an extension in the scope of the bill to include the recognition of the need to determine procedures enabling mothers to return to work in a manner and with facilities, if required, that enables them to continue breastfeeding.

· T&G Scotland has previously welcomed the adoption of the Scottish Breast Feeding Group's code of practice on breastfeeding and returning to work, by both the Scottish Executive and the NHS in Scotland, and we believe such codes of practice can assist in changing attitudes towards breastfeeding. In terms of the proposed duties for Scottish Ministers to encourage support and promote breastfeeding, we believe that all employers should be encouraged to adopt the code of practice and provide facilities for returning mothers.

· T&G Scotland welcomes the production of the SPICe paper on the initial consultation on the Bill and the analysis of responses within it and hope that a sustained level of consultation on the Bill continues.

SUBMISSION BY UNISON SCOTLAND

Introduction

UNISON Scotland welcomes the opportunity to respond to the call for written evidence from the Scottish Parliament's Health Committee regarding the above Bill. UNISON Scotland strongly supports the Bill, as we believe that it validates a woman's right to breastfeed her child in public places where children are allowed.

Breastfeeding in Scotland

UNISON Scotland has already submitted a response to the Scottish Executive's consultation on the Proposed Breastfeeding (Scotland) Bill, but it may be worth re-iterating some of the key issues to the Health Committee.

Scotland has amongst the lowest rates of breastfeeding in Europe. Research in 1994 showed that breastfeeding rates varied between postcode zones in Glasgow, going from around 9% in more deprived areas to 75% in more affluent areas. The World Health Organisation recommends that, when possible, infants should be exclusively fed on breast milk until they are 6 months of age. The health reasons for this advice are not contested. The Scottish Office set a target of more than 50% of women breastfeeding their babies at 6 weeks in 1994. (1) At the time just under 30% of women were breastfeeding at 6 weeks, increasing to 36% by 2001. (2) This contrasts poorly with Scandinavian rates of around 98%. (3)

Despite an overwhelming increase in scientific evidence confirming the resultant health benefits, only 53% of children in Scotland are now breastfed at birth, falling to around 40% at six weeks old. Increases in breastfeeding rates in Scotland are mainly dependent on the individual dedication and initiatives of Health sector workers in this field, many of whom are UNISON members. Without further substantiation from government and wider society, Scotland could retain its place amongst the lowest rates of breastfeeding in Europe.

Breastfeeding, Health and Wealth

Approximately 30% of Scottish children live in poverty, with all the associated health inequalities. The importance of encouraging breastfeeding as part of a broader scheme to tackle the results of poverty, bad diet, and social exclusion must be recognised. Social inclusion and breastfeeding are an important part of the Executive's Social Justice Strategy, and whilst the Executive's programme for Government does outline a pro-active approach to dietary health, it does not appear to give breastfeeding adequate emphasis. Any strategy relating to diet, nutrition and future health of our nation must have its beginnings rooted firmly in early stages of life. Many of UNISON's members who work with mothers and babies believe that the Executive needs to do more to advocate breastfeeding in Scotland. This Bill is one step towards achieving this.

There is a huge amount of medical research emphasising breastfeeding as the natural way to feed babies. It is the simplest way of ensuring positive health advantages in infancy, childhood and adult life. In infancy, breastfeeding has a protective effect against ear infections, diarrhoeal illness and urinary tract infections. It aids mental development and reduces the incidence of eczema, asthma and diabetes in later life. For mothers it cuts the risk of breast and ovarian cancer and can help them regain their shape after pregnancy. Furthermore, significant research has indicated that by increasing breastfeeding rates, the NHS could save an estimated £3.82 million annually in addition to improved child health. (4)

A Legal Right to Breastfeed

Children should have a right to be breastfed whenever and wherever required. Young children need to be fed when they are hungry, this can mean mothers need to feed their young children frequently. Therefore we believe that mothers should be allowed to breastfeed their babies in public places where children are permitted to be. A mother needs to feel safe and comfortable to breastfeed her baby. This is not always the case, and results in many mothers' decision to stop breastfeeding early, or not to breastfeed at all. Many US states have legislation to protect breastfeeding in public, and federal law protects women's rights to breastfeed on federal property, so this Bill is not an unusual attempt to protect women's rights. Here, there is no measure protecting mothers from being subjected to discrimination and segregation while breastfeeding in public. UNISON Scotland believes that a change in legislation will give out the right message to public bodies, businesses, public transport and to Scottish people.

Breastfeeding must be Culturally Acceptable

UNISON Scotland believes that ignorance and fear are the main reasons why certain people will not breastfeed in public. Much of this belief is due to ignorance of what breastfeeding a baby involves. Some people believe it is an exhibitionist activity and are afraid of their own reaction to a breastfeeding mother and child. Others have difficulty with the supposed conflict of breasts as sexual objects and a natural means of providing nourishment for a baby. This Bill is an excellent means for sending out a clear message that breastfeeding is not only acceptable, but should be encouraged. UNISON Scotland believes that a public campaign led by the Executive Health Department could also help to promote breastfeeding in Scotland. It would help to change a culture, which at times can be hostile and discriminatory to breastfeeding mothers.

Breastfeeding and the Workplace

UNISON Scotland negotiates and campaigns for improved workplace rights for mothers and families. This includes flexible working, extended maternity leave, parental leave rights, childcare facilities and time off for emergencies. Under health and safety legislation employers are required to provide pregnant and breastfeeding women with a place to rest. The Health and Safety Executive also recommends that employers provide women who are breastfeeding with suitable rest periods, access to a private room to express milk, and somewhere to store milk. Two thirds of UNISON's members are women, and we have been at the forefront of negotiating for women's rights. This includes negotiating for suitable areas for mothers to express and store breast milk, and for additional maternity leave to enable mothers to continue to breastfeed their babies for longer.

Conclusion

UNISON members are employed in the health service and in local government, many of whom are involved in supporting and assisting mothers in breastfeeding and nursing their babies. The majority of our members are women, and we therefore strongly support any course of action that would make women's lives a little easier. UNISON Scotland very much welcomes the proposals as set out in the Breastfeeding etc. (Scotland) Bill. We believe that it is right that we should promote a culture that is supportive of breastfeeding, and encourages women to breastfeed their babies for as long as possible and/or appropriate.

References:

1 Warren J, Breastfeeding in Scotland Where are we now Health Bulletin 1998 56 (4): 772-9

2 Scottish Executive, Social Justice Annual Report 2002 page 27

3 Anderson Professor A, Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics 16 2003 p 27

4 Broadfoot M (1995). The Economic Consequences of Breastfeeding for less than 3 months, New Generation Digest December: 5.

SUBMISSION BY UNION OF SHOP, DISTRIBUTIVE AND ALLIED WORKERS

USDAW is a trade union with over 325,000 members. The majority of our members work in the retail industry, the largest private sector employer of women. Over two-thirds of our members are women and so we are well placed to help articulate the voices of working women. We welcome the introduction of legislation protecting a woman's right to breast or bottle-feed her baby in public and believe the Bill has the potential to make a real difference to the lives of breastfeeding mothers in Scotland and set the standard for other countries to follow.

As a trade union, we can speak with some authority about the experience of women breastfeeding their babies in the workplace. However, as the Bill is concerned with women having the right to breastfeed in public, it is not directly within our remit. Having said this, we would like to take this opportunity to put on record our support of the general principles of the Bill and the key provisions it sets out.

The only other comments we wish to make concern the practical implications of putting the Bill's provisions in place.

We assume that proposals already exist for the launch of an awareness-raising campaign to accompany the implementation of the legislation. Such a campaign must also aim to change negative attitudes towards women breastfeeding their children in public.

The campaign should be targeted at those premises where women have experienced problems, ie have been asked either to leave or go to the toilet. Women have to feel confident and supported if they are to breastfeed in public. We note and welcome the Bill's proposals to impose duties on Ministers to encourage, support and promote breastfeeding.

Finally, any campaign must ensure that new mothers are aware of their legal right and how they can enforce it. Women feeding their babies in public are vulnerable and may often feel unable to challenge a person preventing them from breastfeeding. Any campaign must inform women of how they can practically enforce their right to breastfeed their babies in public, how they report a person or business that prevents them from feeding their baby in public, what the legal procedure is, what will be required of them and what the sanctions are. Targeting information via baby products or products designed for new mothers, such as breast pads, will help.

SUBMISSION BY VOLUNTEER DEVELOPMENT SCOTLAND

Volunteering in Health

I refer to the call for evidence dated 22 January 2004, and submit the undernoted comments on behalf of the Volunteering in Health team at Volunteer Development Scotland (VDS)

VDS seeks to promote volunteering in all areas of Scottish life and has had a dedicated health team since 1997. VDS did not submit comments to the earlier consultation.

1. General principles

VDS is strongly in support of the general principles of the Bill and the key provisions it sets out, for the following reasons:

· There is clear evidence of the health benefits accruing from the widest possible practice of breastfeeding

· The reactions to breastfeeding in some public places can deter uptake by mothers

· Volunteers can, and do, play a very significant role in promoting breastfeeding by acting as peer mentors. The provisions of this Bill will assist them in this work by removing some of the often-quoted disincentives to breastfeeding

· The Bill will assist in bringing Scotland up to breastfeeding rates comparable with countries in the vanguard of health improvement measures

2. Omissions

There are no omissions from the Bill to which VDS would draw attention but we would wish to see Section 4 (Promotion and support of breastfeeding) expressed in the strongest terms possible. We would be delighted to see reference in either Paras (1) or (2) of the insertion to Section 38 of the NHS (Scotland) Act 1978 of the words:

"and to promote volunteer support programmes for mothers choosing to breastfeed"

3. Consultation process

The consultation process attracted an encouraging number of responses, particularly from individuals. I have no doubt that the views expressed by members of support groups in Wishaw and Shotts could have been replicated many times over by similar groups throughout Scotland.

4. Practical implications

I have no specific comment on the practical implications of putting the provisions in place, other than to note the importance of developing still further the support mechanisms available to mothers who may experience difficulties in certain public places. The advocacy and mediation roles required of volunteers could increase, particularly in the early stages of implementation. Insofar as there is a need for actions to raise public awareness and address attitudes not conducive to breastfeeding in public, volunteers could play an enhanced role in public education work in hospitals, schools, clinics and elsewhere.

Philip Bryers

Senior Development Officer

Volunteering in Health

Volunteer Development Scotland

SUBMISSION BY ISABEL ARCHIBOLD

Dear Sir or Madam,

I recently read the article' A Mother's Right' in the Feb26-Mar3, 2004 edition of the Big Issue and wanted to write to you in support of the Breastfeeding (Scotland) Bill. I am a mother of 3 children, all breastfed. The first was fed this way until 14 months old; the second to the age of28 months and the third is still being breastfed at 22 months with no signs of wanting to stop! I was in my 30's before starting my family and can be classed as well educated / middle class. I had no strong breastfeeding role model to follow but decided that breastfeeding was the most natural way of feeding my babies. All three children are fit and healthy and it has been pointed out to me many times that they all speak very clearly and fluently -even the 'baby' already uses sentences appropriately. I was able to feed on demand as there was no pressure on me to return to work and have never been asked to stop feeding my babies in any public place. The embarrassment factor did play a part initially but time and experience have overcome this. I still feel a little uncomfortable amongst a group of non-feeding mums e.g. at the local toddler group when feeding my almost two-year-old, although no-one comments.

While I support the Bill I do think that the main problem mothers-to-be/new mums face is from family members -I remember my own mother asking 'when will you stop?' as the first baby approached a year old. Many women think they have to stop when the baby's teeth appear -not so. There are so many myths surrounding breastfeeding that need to be dispelled. Many health care professionals also have a bias against breastfeeding and even though their health board has a pro-breastfeeding policy they have their own ingrained (and often misinformed) ideas. I have heard a midwife comment on the detrimental effect long term feeding will have on a woman's breast size and shape but have had no personal experience of this. I would comment, however, on the positive benefits I have gained from breastfeeding -rapid and complete loss of weight gained as a result of pregnancy AND a very close bond with all three children.

I have heard of a peer support network being piloted in my local area, with mothers who have fed their babies for at least three months being asked to help new mums over the initial stages -this is a good start and should be encouraged with the funding it needs. Perhaps this would be a sensible next step after the current Bill?

I hope my rambling thoughts and comments are of interest and will help support the Bill,

Yours faithfully,

Isabel M. Archbold

SUBMISSION BY KATHERINE BUTCHER

I would like to say that I fully support the proposed Breastfeeding Bill. I do feel that it is unfortunate that we need a bill like this but from personal experience I feel it is essential. I run a voluntary website for mums, and we surveyed local restaurants, and as a breastfeeding mother I included questions about their attitudes about breastfeeding, although most were very positive, we found shocking evidence of anti breastfeeding attitudes. Some said although they welcome babies, they would ask a mother to leave if they were breastfeeding, even if the family were eating a meal. It is essential to overcome these attitudes if babies health and wellbeing is to be protected.

I would like to also see moves to bring the UK law into line with the WHO code on the Marketing of Formula Milk, and also the current law enforced more strongly. I feel the current situation also has a detrimental effect on breast feeding initiation and continuation.

From a practical point of view I feel this will be very straightforward and feel it will have an immediate effect on protecting women and their babies from discrimination.

Miss Katherine Butcher

SUBMISSION BY KATHRYN CONGDON

My experiences of breastfeeding in public have been varied. At one place I my baby was crying and so I started to feed him in a quiet corner of a restaurant. The manager came up and asked me to leave. I didn't feel I could argue with him then and there and I was really embarrassed about the whole thing. The whole family had to leave because we couldn't sit there with a crying baby but I was being as discreet as possible and felt very cross that I was humiliated in this way. I would never go there again but experiences like this don't help when you are trying to get breastfeeding established. It is tricky enough as it is as you have to feed for so long and so oiften at first and people are going "give him a bottle he's hungry" all the time. You have to be really determined to actually stick at it so if you can't go out and about and feed in freedom it makes iut so much harder.

Although there is a long way to go, it is becoming easier to breastfeed in public places. More and more establishments are welcoming breastfeeding mothers and babies and providing suitable facilities. Sadly, there are places where breastfeeding is still considered unacceptable. I am keen to challenge attitudes that question women's right to breastfeed their baby wherever they are together. I know that there are still far too many women who feel they either have to rush out between feeds, stay at home most of the time or stop breastfeeding.

If more women were supported to breastfeed when they were out and about with their baby, it would help to break the cycle that keeps breastfeeding hidden and perpetuates a bottle-feeding culture.

I am now feeding a two year old so the bill wouldn't help me now as he isn't included in the definition of a baby. I know it is less common but there are women out there feeding toddlers. Could they be included in the bill as well? Otherwise we will feel even odder then we are made to feel at the moment. I would never feed him in public now as I know people are funny about it but they shouldn't be - it is a totally natural thing to do which benefits us both.

More education is needed to support breastfeeding so this bill will hopefully be a step in the right direction.

Kathryn Congdon

SUBMISSION BY NINNA CRISP

To whom it may concern

I am writing to you as I am totally in shock, that we live in year 2004 and this bill is first going through now. How any law can condemn a mother to breastfeed in public ,and how a landlord has the right to throw her out for doing what is the most natural thing in the world, we are supposed to be encouraging mothers to breastfeed, and not stopping them or refuse they can have a nice meal in the pub, with her friends so I hope that this bill does go through. as a mum of 2 both breastfeed and still breastfeeding I feed where ever I need to and thank fully have never come across any bad feelings. I think that the consultation should be done very well and by the people whom have the knowledge of the benefits of breastfeeding i.e. health visitors, midwifes, doctors, breastfeeding counsellors from the breastfeeding groups i.e. la-leche association of breastfeeding mothers ect.and mums whom have breastfeed. Not by a load of politicians whom have never been educated on breastfeeding. Also I believe that breastfeeding rates in Scotland are at a very low compared to other places in Europe. And there should be a lot more "advertising" done to promote breastfeeding. I hope this bill does go through,

Yours faithfully

Ninna Crisp

SUBMISSION BY IRENE FENSKE

We at Forth Park Hospital Kirkcaldy support the general principles of the bill and its provisions.

We recognise that all mothers who are breast or bottle feeding should be able to do so without any discrimination. The mother are at subject to the needs of their own baby to give the nutrition and nurturing when it is required by them.

In the case of a breast feeding mother she also has the added discomfort of a hormone response that reacts to her own baby's behaviour. These hormones are to allow the ejection the milk as well as its production. They can give a physical response within the breast which gives sensations of tingling or discomfort and lead to leaking of the milk in response to the baby crying. This will give her a feeling of overwhelming need to put her baby to the breast and as soon as is possible. She will be looking for a comfortable area where she can sit and allow her baby to go to her breast. This feeding is normally carried out without fuss or obvious exposure of her breasts. Most women in Scotland have some degree of modesty! Once baby is attached at the breast and cuddled into her she can relax and allow both the baby and herself to enjoy the feeding experience.

It is both the baby and the mothers right for breast feeding to take place and should be accepted by the general public as a normal part of human behaviour. The mother has the right to feel comfortable where ever baby requires to be fed.

The members of the forth park breast feeding support group in general have not found a problem as they tend to feed in places that are familiar to them when they are out and about. They feel it is only acceptable to change a baby's nappy in a toilet area. The feeding should be allowed to take place in any other seated area on the premises offered to the general public.

As breast feeding co-coordinators who are trying to raise the awareness in both staff and mothers and general public we have liaised with our hospital chaplain the matter of support in breast feeding to be taken forward as a motion at the general assembly for the church of Scotland 2004.

We hope these comments are of value or interest. We look forwards to this bill being made law and with it raising the interest in infant feeding. The opportunity of giving the advantages, benefits and raising the profile of breast feeding should not be missed. it is essential the culture of Scotland is changed from the disapproval of breast feeding in public if we are to become a healthier nation.

Yours sincerely,

Irene Fenske - Breastfeeding Co-ordinator

Patricia Cobain - Breastfeeding Co-ordinator

Lianne Hood - Forth Park Breast Feeding Support Group

SUBMISSION BY DR LAURA JOFFE

I am writing in response to further consultation regarding the Breastfeeding (Scotland) Bill. I am concerned that the Bill's definition of infant as being under two years of age may make it even more unacceptable to breastfeed an older child. Breastfeeding children is perfectly normal, beneficial to mothers, children and most importantly, the tax payer.

I would also like to see the Bill, or further legislation, to implement the WHO Code on the marketing of Breast milk Substitutes as UK, or at least Scots, law. The present legislation is weak, frequently not enforced, and ofter not understood even by those whose duty it is to enforce it.

Thank you,

Dr Laura Joffe

SUBMISSION BY CATRIONA MCCALLUM

Having just read your article in last Wednesdays Morning Star on the Breastfeeding Scotland Bill, it prompted me to look up the Proposed Bill on the internet and i have to agree wholeheartedly with everything I have read. The only question has to be why has it taken so long??

I am currently breastfeeding my third baby of 10 months and one of the first questions people ask is "are ye still breastfeeding that wean?" the next question is "Whit age is he noo?" when the reply is 10 months the contempt and disgust on their face says it all!

This ignorance along with the widespread misconception that breast milk is not substantial enough for a hungry baby (my friends health visitor even told her this!) is in my experience the reason for many mothers giving up in the early stages. This coupled by the fact that if you do manage to master the art, going out and resuming some kind of normality is impossible due to the fact that there are very very few either designated places or places that tolerate breast feeding.

If the Bill is passed then will there also be designated breastfeeding rooms? Education has to be another key factor especially prior and immediately after the birth. It would be nice when choosing to breastfeed your new-born to have a nurse or even an experienced mother come along while you are still in hospital to talk about all aspects of breastfeeding as it is far more complicated than bottle feeding! By the same token mothers who choose to bottle feed should not just be handed a bottle she may choose to might reverse the decision if there was a "breastfeeding nurse" or experienced mother to talk things over with. If these things are an option at the moment it is something of which I was not aware. Excellent leaflets and phone numbers are given out which if are not misplaced are things I only turned to when I was having problems.

I will pursue this Bill with interest as it is a subject I feel strongly about I hope my experiences can be of some use feel free to e-mail me.

Yours faithfully

Catriona McCallum

Ardrossan.

SUBMISSION BY CLAIRE MUIR

Dear Elaine Smith MSP,

I live in Dumbarton, where breastfeeding is particularly low.

Would like to ask why, at my doctor's surgery, I am not allowed to breastfeed yet they display signs saying "Breastfeeding Mothers welcome here".

It's bad enough being told in no uncertain terms (rudely) that I am not to breastfeed, when I asked if I could but to sit and suffer under such a sign is very, very bad. I didn't even want the doctor, I was asked to go for baby jabs.So I feel I had no choice but to go to the doctors.

Anyway, time has moved on and I have been breastfeeding for a year now and the doctors was the only place I encountered a problem.

I've been positively encouraged elsewhere.

It's the sign I have issue with. Adds insult to injury.

Yours sincerely

Claire Muir

SUBMISSION BY SCOT MURPHY

I am not a citizen of the U.K., but it may interest you to know this bill has support on the American side of the ocean. Please pass it!

Scot Murphy

SUBMISSION BY NINA ROBERTSON

· Do you support the general principles of the Bill and the key provisions it sets out?

Yes, it is important to ensure that mothers and babies may breastfeed freely as they go about their normal lives in our society without worry of interference.

· Are there any omissions from the Bill that you would like to see added?

The physical workout of babies milking the breast, as opposed to delivery of human milk by other means (bottle, cups), is an important aspect of optimal child development.

This physical activity leads to natural development of oral and nasal passages, impacting the avoidance of all manner of health consequences of not breastfeeding: i.e. speech problems, respiratory problems including asthma, sleep apnoea that may be involved in SIDS as well as in later life, optimal development of teeth and room for natural alignment without orthodontic treatment. As with any physical activity, the regularity and overall number of workouts results in increased benefits. More about the anthropological research which has identified many of these issues can be found on the following website: http://www.brianpalmerdds.com/

Inherent in direct delivery of human milk is the presence of the mother to respond to her baby's needs, not only for food but for teaching about relationships and building trust in the world. It's obvious to me that this can benefit wider society in reducing anti-social behaviour long term by providing a sound foundation in the early years. Who knows, this responsive parenting when the child is a baby may become habit-forming and children would more often grow up with a loving advocate for life! Of course, there are many issues involved in this aspect. Volumes have been written about it, but this article explores briefly some of the political and economic issues:

http://www.geocities.com/HotSprings/Spa/3156/experience.htm long article by Nutritionist, Ted Greiner, and talking about his experience of USA and Sweden

· What are your views on the quality of consultation, and the implementation of key concerns?

I would like to see this bill take a broad view that enables the reestablishment of breastfeeding as a normal part of human relationships, to strip away a century or more of commercial and political pressures that have eroded this natural parenting skill.

· Have you any comment on the practical implications of putting these provisions in place and the consideration of alternative approaches?

I am concerned that the definition of "child" in the bill has been restricted to someone under two years of age. This is an arbitrary figure and has no inherent significance to the purpose of this bill. The international (WHO) recommendations are that breastfeeding continue for two years and beyond. There is much research to show that health benefits of breastfeeding continue for years and should be a matter of choice for individual mothers and babies. Currently there are mothers and babies who breastfeed beyond the child's second birthday. I would find it ludicrous for the 25-month-old child to be required to produce proof of age. Another difficulty might be that younger children who are "big" for their age may be hassled unduly and illegally if this bill were in force with this age limit. This "two years old" loophole is just the sort of thing that interfering persons may want to use to hassle mothers and babies. Public support of breastfeeding should be legislated in principle, not particulars.

Goldman, A. Immunologic components in human milk during the second year of lactation. Acta Paediatr Scand 1983; 72:461-62.

Gulick, E. The effects of breastfeeding on toddler health. Ped Nursing1986; 12:51-54.

The WHO recommendation of two years breastfeeding is one that protects the lower natural weaning age - child developmental stages are variable with individuals - few children naturally wean before the age of two years and many continue for another couple of years. The present-day Scottish experience seldom includes natural weaning of children from the breast due to the political, commercial and social pressures that debilitate the health of the nation. The following is a quick and humorous comment on this state of affairs, showing a worldwide perspective.

http://www.geocities.com/HotSprings/Spa/3156/lesotho.htm breastfeeding attitude quiz

I am happy to provide upon request many more references to support a broad view of breastfeeding and its incorporation into day-to-day human behaviour. Thank you for asking and good luck with this legislation.

Nina Robertson

SUBMISSION BY PAULINE RUSH

Dear Sir or Madam:

RE:" A Mother's Right' Big Issue Feb 26 - March 2, 2004

I would like to express my support for the Breastfeeding Scotland Bill, which I read about with great interest in the aforementioned article.

I, myself, was a breastfeeding mother and have experienced both praise and disdain for having done so. When I made the decision, prior to giving birth, to breastfeed my baby the only people who's feelings on the subject that I was interested in hearing were my two teenage sons. Had they not been comfortable with my decision I would have considered mixed feeding rather than elect to solely breastfeed. My feelings then were if two teenage boys could be mature enough to cope with my breastfeeding then so too could everyone else. I firmly believe that in order to establish successful, full time feeding you have to be very determined, sometimes thick skinned and a bit selfish.

I did feed my daughter when and where necessary, and I would say that the majority of the time very few people were even aware that I was doing so. Ignorance plays a big part in breastfeeding being frowned upon. People don't seem to realise that there is no need to expose your breast in order to feed a baby. It is a very discreet action. I have fed my daughter on public transport and only once has anyone ever passed comment. That was an elderly lady who patted my shoulder as she got up to leave the bus and said what a good job I was doing and wished me good health! I know that that is not always the way of things, one day when my daughter was crying in her pram a woman asked why I didn't just give her a bottle. When I explained that I was on my way home and that I didn't have a bottle because I was breastfeeding she said "You are making " yourself no better than the beasts in the field:' I replied that I was giving my daughter the best possible start, just as nature had intended. Her retort was that I was just trying to be "trendy, like the yuppie mothers". Some people do look upon you with disgust, as if you are doing something demeaning. One woman also told me that she herself had fed her son but could not feed her daughters because she felt it was unnatural to put a female to her breast. Something must be done to show people that there is nothing shameful about breastfeeding your children but how attitudes towards breastfeeding, such as the examples I experienced, can be changed I do not know. With regard to restaurants and cafes, I found the best approach to be asking what their policy on breastfeeding was prior to ordering. I was never told that I couldn't feed my baby but one establishment did ask that I sat facing away from other diners. That didn't seem an unreasonable request.

The only way that women feeding their babies in public places will be considered "socially acceptable" will be when the majority of women choose to breastfeed. In the world we live in today it is difficult for a lot of women to make the choice to breastfeed their babies because of work commitments and outside pressures. It is not always easy and can be very time consuming to feed on demand if you have a hungry baby but for me the rewards far outweighed the drawbacks. I would urge every new 1mJm to try it, it's not right for everyone, but you'll never know unless you try. Self confidence plays a major part in how successful any woman becomes at breastfeeding her baby, but if you adopt a positive attitude right at the start and don't allow yourself to be put down by other peoples misguided opinions you can succeed. I know; I did. I now have a happy; healthy four year old who can often be seen stuffing a doll under her jumper to have what she refers to as a "Mummy drink". Perhaps someday in the future she will breastfeed her children without fear of the stigma attached now.

Any bill promoting a positive attitude towards breastfeeding can only be a step in the right direction. The health benefits to both mother and child should be reason enough for Scotland to give a resounding "YES" to every mother having the right to choose when and where to feed her child.

Yours faithfully,

Pauline Rush

SUBMISSION BY LESLEY SMITH

As a breastfeeding mother I wish to add my whole hearted support for your Breastfeeding (Scotland) Bill.

I was recently asked not to feed my daughter in the waiting room of my dental surgery but was instead provided with a room in which to feed privately. While I have no objection to feeding in private I prefer to have the choice and my daughter and I would have been equally comfortable in the surgery waiting room.

I am an NHS patient and live within Ayrshire and Arran Health Board District. I believe that this contravenes NHS breastfeeding policy. Is there an organisation/person within the health service I should complain to about my treatment?

Thank you for your time.

Mrs Lesley Smith

SUBMISSION BY PHOEBE TAIT

I write in support of the proposed Bill which will make it an offence to require women to stop breastfeeding.

Sometimes it seems that everywhere I look, in the supermarket, at the movies, on posters, newspapers, TV, anywhere, there are provocative, sexual, images of women, often women's breasts. Sexual explicitness is all too often in your face. It's really offensive but that's the way of the world isn't it?

In a scenario where everyone is reading a page three and "tits" sell soup or car insurance why is a mother asked to feed her precious new baby in the toilet? Why is a mother asked to leave a cafe because others may find her natural and loving act offensive, most of the girls are hardly contained by their wonder bras and doesn't everybody just love it! But mums and babies obscene?

What a world where you have to legislate against madness!

But you do. So I support this Bill.

I am a normal woman and proud to be a mother.

Phoebe Tait

SUBMISSION BY CLAIRE THOMSON

I was delighted to read in The Big Issue that there are plans to make it illegal to stop mothers breastfeeding their children in public places.

I have 2 children, a 2 yr old daughter and a son who is 1mth old. I breastfed my daughter until she was a year old and am currently breast feeding my son. I have never been asked to stop feeding and in many cases people have not even realised what I have been doing! However I do know that people do object-I just don't understand why.

I fully support the bill as we must make it easier for Mums to breast feed-it is so beneficial for Mum and child and totally natural. I have no concerns about feeding in a public place but I know a lot of people who would not. We want to support and encourage feeding and although in an ideal world people would not object, they do. Making a law means all parties know their rights.

It would be difficult to police but I think that fact that women know they have a right to breastfeed their children and others know they cannot by law prevent it, it will be enough. Most places would not want such adverse publicity and will co-operate.

We must improve Scotland's health and encouraging breast feeding is a positive step to help our children's health and their children's.

I would be happy to comment further on specific issues.

Claire Thomson

SUBMISSION BY DR KATHLEEN WARD

Dear Sir/ Madam

I wish to register my support for the Breastfeeding Etc. ( Scotland ) Bill.

Breastfeeding has a huge part to play in improving the health of children in Scotland, but one of the biggest problems in persuading mothers to breastfeed is that it is often seen as disgusting, socially unacceptable, or at best something that should only be done in private. Mothers are often embarrassed or afraid to breastfeed in public for fear of negative reactions, whereas with a bottle they encounter no such problems.

I believe this Bill can help by encouraging a change of attitudes, much in the same way that making the wearing of seatbelts compulsory eventually made it socially unacceptable to refuse to wear one.

Mothers will have the confidence to breastfeed in public knowing they will not be harassed and other members of the public will see babies being breastfed and realise just how normal this is. Prospective mothers will also benefit by seeing how breastfeeding is done; many women, including myself, find themselves trying to feed a newborn having never seen anyone breastfeed before; this makes it much more difficult to acquire a skill which in other societies comes naturally.

I hope this Bill will be passed and that we will soon see the benefits in the form of an increase in breastfeeding rates, both at birth and for the first 2 years of life, as recommended by the World Health Organisation.

Regards

Dr Kathleen Ward

SUBMISSION BY TRACEY WEAVER

I would first like to applaud the Scottish Parliament for planning to introduce the Breastfeeding etc. ( Scotland ) Bill - and I hope the English government will follow suit.

However there is one area which concerns me and this is the definition of a "child". By setting the age as under 2 this seems to be suggesting that breastfeeding an older child is somehow not acceptable. In my own case I am currently breastfeeding my youngest daughter who is now aged 2 years and 2 months and so the Bill as it stands at the moment would not apply to me or my right to breastfeed my child, in public if necessary. I feel it would be preferable to have no age specified.

Tracy Weaver

 

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