Thursday, February 25, 2010

Indecent Exposure

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.

If you have been discriminated against for breastfeeding in public or for any reason at all, you can contact the Equal Opportunity Commission or the Australian Human Rights Commission.


  1. Hot under the collar, yes. But mostly due to the repeated mention of breasts......mmmmmmm

  2. Have signed the petition. I fed Kass for 15 months but could only manage to feed Gabe for 6 months (due to excruciating cracked, bleeding festering nipples and constant mastitis). Thankfully I had never experienced any discrimination while breastfeeding in public.

    Unfortunately for me breastfeeding my kids did not prevent them from having asthma :(.

  3. Oh be aware of leaking breasts while out in public. Always a good look going up to a counter to pay for something and realising that your breast pad is not where it should be and you have this huuuuuge wet patch on your top.

  4. i too would hide out in parents lounges, but not because I breast fed but because I **gulp** bottle fed Joshie and was so ashamed by it! I expressed breast milk which he was given until 3 and a half months, which is when, even though I was taking tablets prescribed by my doctor to increase lactation, my milk dried up!!!!
    So I really hope you get to... See more breast feed Tricky!!! Breast milk is definitely the best for babies! So do it for as long as you can!!
    And the laws do suck!!! I have signed the petition!

  5. i feel another blog coming from this NM... even if u had copious amounts of milk and chose to bottle feed joshie, its your choice yet made to feel like you should be ashamed. its the same i suppose with people who choose to have a caesarian from the get go - made to feel like they aren't doing it properly. your body, your baby, your choice. such a political issue!!!
    p.s. the gulp made me laugh :P

  6. Thats it - it is your choice! And no mother should be criticesed for what they choose to do!
    The worst was when joshie was 6 weeks old we were at PMH because he had to have an operation, and I had already explained to a nurse that I fed Joshie EBM (Expressed Breast Milk) and I told her all my reasons and she was fine with it. Then the Dr who was ... See morelooking after Joshies case came in and somehow it came up and he said "right while you're in here and you have all these lactation consultants around lets see if we can get your boy breast fed!" and I was so mad! Josh was 6 weeks old and we were going through the trauma of one minute thinking he had a bit of colic to the next minute him requiring emergency surgery and this Dr wants to talk to me about breast feeding!
    Sorry to ramble! I could go on forever about the topic!
    At the end of the day as long as your baby gets fed that is all they care about!

  7. As far as Im concerned, Colin Barnett dosen't have a Uterus, so shouldn't have the right to choose what is "socially acceptable"" and what isn't in this backward state.

    As a Woman who has consciously chosen to not have Children (....yet... and much to my Husband's to be, Mother and Mother In-Law disgust UGH!) it worries me to think that there are People out there who look down new Mothers who choose to breast feed their Children to give them a better start to life.

    That being said, I am all for Breast Feeding, but I am not for Women flopping the girls out for all public to see as they feed their Child. Keep them covered Ladies.

  8. I breastfed all 4 of my children! All of them in public! I have seen women walking around with a boob totally out and baby under one arm feeding away! I say thats their choice but I couldn't do it! I didn't "flop" it out in public as there are weirdos out there who will try to have a look and I didn't like that idea.. But if my baby was hungry I managed to push a shopping trolley with one hand (albeit rather awkwardly LOL) and feed a blanket covered baby with the other! People could tell what I was doing but I didn't care! I got more smiles then disgusted looks! I still feed my 16 mth old son in public whilst sitting in a lunch area in the middle of a shopping complex and it doesnt embarass me when I "accidentally" show some flesh! I never liked parent rooms as I found sitting hidden away (for as long as baby wants to feed) was unecessary and a waste of time when I could be window shopping or sitting people watching! LOL If someone stared..I stared back! Heehee I know I didnt look away first :)Now my son tries to feed anywhere and I am proud to let everyone know that I still breastfeed him! :)


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