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Last Updated: Monday, 15 May 2006, 10:04 GMT 11:04 UK
Mothers demand breastfeeding law
Woman breastfeeding
Women report being asked to stop breastfeeding in public
Mothers are demanding a law is introduced allowing women throughout the UK to breastfeed in public.

The National Childbirth Trust backs the call, saying women should feel "confident and comfortable" feeding their babies.

Scotland already has a law allowing women to breastfeed in public, and an NCT survey found 79% of mums want a similar law everywhere.

A government spokeswoman said it was reviewing the need for legislation.

The NCT is supporting MP David Kidney's Private Member's Bill for a breastfeeding law in England.

'Hiding away'

The NCT's survey of 1,394 mothers by the NCT found 85% breastfed. Of them, over half had felt embarrassed when feeding their baby in public.

We believe mothers should have the freedom to feed their babies when they need to be fed
Rosie Dodds, National Childbirth Trust

Breastfeeding mothers reported having been asked to move from restaurants, cafes, schools and high streets.

The Scottish Executive passed its law in March last year.

The NCT survey found that a third of breastfeeding mums in Scotland say they feel more comfortable breastfeeding since the law was introduced.

Rosie Dodds, policy research officer at the NCT said: "Mothers shouldn't be made to feel that they have to hide away while they are breastfeeding.

"We believe mothers should have the freedom to feed their babies when they need to be fed.

"Most breastfeeding is so discreet, no one notices."

She added: "Breastfeeding makes a difference for both mothers and babies right from the first feed.

"If women are denied the right to breastfeed when they are out and about or don't feel comfortable enough to feed in public, they are being forced to deprive their baby of the healthiest start in life."

Lynette Burrows, who has written several books on bringing up children said she hoped a law would not be necessary.

"Common sense, a bit of modesty, a bit of taking into account of other people's feelings and you don't need laws."

'Positive effect'

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: "We are committed to the promotion of breastfeeding as the best form of nutrition for infants and aim to increase breastfeeding rates by two percentage point every year, with a specific focus on women from disadvantaged groups."

"Breastfeeding can make a major contribution to public health.

"Increasing research indicates that cancer and coronary heart disease, two of the government's priority areas for health improvement, could be positively affected by increasing breastfeeding rates."

She said the government supported the principle of Mr Kidney's bill, but believed the evidence behind it was anecdotal.

She added: "The government will keep the need for legislation under review in light of this evidence and the Scottish experience."

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18 Mar 05 |  Scotland
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08 Nov 05 |  UK Politics

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