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
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
· 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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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:
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.
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
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
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.
Senior Development Officer
Volunteering in Health
Volunteer Development Scotland
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,
Isabel M. Archbold
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
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
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.
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,
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.
Irene Fenske - Breastfeeding Co-ordinator
Patricia Cobain - Breastfeeding Co-ordinator
Lianne Hood - Forth Park Breast Feeding Support Group
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.
Dr Laura Joffe
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
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
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.
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.
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
· 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:
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,
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
I would be happy to comment further on specific issues.
DR KATHLEEN WARD
Dear Sir/ Madam
I wish to register my support for the Breastfeeding Etc. ( Scotland
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.
Dr Kathleen Ward
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.