In my ideal world, after having a painless yet drug free birth, I will breastfeed Tricky immediately with no hassles, no 'attachment' issues and definitely no cracked nipples, for about twelve months... So it may be a rather unrealistic vision but I did say it was in my ideal world, and I definitely don't expect it to happen this way.
Breastfeeding for as long as a I can is really important to me for a number of reasons:
it's been shown to protect babies from all sorts of nasties because of the huge amounts of antibodies breastmilk contains
breastfed babies on average, have higher IQ's and if Tricky is to survive in a commercially driven world then brains matter (let's face it, he won't have the ability to wear a low cut top to get what he wants like his mother does)
it protects against allergies and asthma
it's a complete nutrition package that can change daily if required, to meet bub's varying needs
it's definitely a lot cheaper than bottle feeding, no special equipment to buy, no sterilising of bottles
and since my breasts are of the non-detachable variety, it's completely portable
Due to my sister's ill health when I was born, I wasn't breastfed - I was a soy baby. Whether its because of this or a thousand other variables, I have had asthma since I was two and multiple allergies so bad that I had six months worth of weekly injections to reduce their severity. Add in to the mix that I sometimes wear glasses and I'm your stereotypical geek type from American television with my allergy meds in one hand and my azzzzma inhaler in the other. I'm not resentful towards my mum for bottle feeding me, she had the proverbial bigger fish to fry at the time and did what was necessary, but it has made me more determined to try my hardest to breastfeed Tricky as long as I can.
Which brings me (finally) to my point. Western Australia is the only state without legislation recognising the right for women to breastfeed their baby in public without discrimination. So if I'm down the shops and face the choice between a screaming Tricky or discreetly breastfeeding I know which one I'm going to choose. But I may be asked to 'move along' or to go somewhere 'more appropriate' like a germ filled public toilet that hasn't seen a bottle of White King since Christmas. Legally, I would have no right to politely tell them to go away (I would also not have the right to tell them to go shove it, which is the more likely response).
As it stands you cannot be discriminated against based on your family responsibilities, but there is no specific clause that covers breastfeeding as one of those responsibilities - Instead it covers things like being penalised for taking a day off to care for a sick child.
In April last year when questioned about the possibility of new legislation the premier, the Honourable Colin Barnett said that “common sense and common courtesy” were the answer and therefore would not be introducing laws on breast feeding, yet in the same interview he was quoted as saying “the operators of establishments need to recognise and respect the right of a mother to feed her baby". Maybe its just me but is that a blatant contradiction? People need to respect a right that is not actually legally enforceable? Riiight, I can see that happening. If speed limits were a courtesy and not enforceable – would you speed?
In response to Barnett's comments the Equal Opportunity Commissioner, Yvonne Henderson, released a statement in November 2009 urging the Legislative Council to pass the legislation (the Legislative Assembly had already passed it) citing the social and health benefits to both mother and baby. But nothing was done and the upper house has still not budged.
Its a pretty sad state of affairs that legislation is even needed so that women can do what is completely natural and feed their children. Especially when you consider that you can easily see more flesh at the beach and far more on a Saturday night in Northbridge.
Honestly I really don't know what I'd do if someone were to approach me whilst breastfeeding and ask me to 'move along'. I'd like to think I could come up with some witty response whilst holding a screaming, starving Tricky right up to their ear, where hopefully he would also puke a little bit. Mmm warm baby sick right in the ear and down the collar. I wonder if babies can be trained to puke on command?
If this issue makes you hot under the collar (due to the presence of baby sick or not), you can put your name on the petition currently being hosted at Go Petition.