This is the question INFACT Canada asks on their website and I believe it is a good one to pounder before it happens (and hopefully it won’t!). Knowing your rights will empower you to act if you or someone you know is asked to leave a public place because of breastfeeding.
So, what would you do if you (or someone you know) were asked to leave a public place because you are breastfeeding? Here are the answers provided by INFACT Canada
What are your rights? At INFACT Canada we receive calls every month from women who find themselves in this situation. A public place can be defined as anywhere you go that does not require a personal invitation. If this happens to you there are several possible courses of action. You can:
- Stand your ground and refuse to leave. Calmly but confidently state your right to feed your infant without discrimination. Unfortunately many new mothers feel intimidated in such situations, and it is often after they have had time to think about what has happened that they wish to respond in some way
- Lodge a formal complaint with your provincial Human Rights Commission
- Write to your local community newspapers about the incident
- Let your local councilor, school trustee, MP and MPP know. Choose the government official connected with the actual place where the incident occurred, for example if you are asked to leave a school setting it would be best to go to the local school trustee with your complaint. If you are unsure start with local councilors and MPPs
- Contact your local public health unit. They can provide you with suggestions on how to proceed and can probably put you in touch with local breastfeeding networks or coalitions
- Let INFACT Canada know firstname.lastname@example.org. Phone: 416-595-9819
- Boycott the place where the incident occurred and encourage friends and family to do the same. It is a good idea to let the facility know what you are doing and why
So far, every mother that has lodge a formal complaint has won her case (the cases get publicity and raise the public’s awareness of mothers’ rights, which is really good!).
As the organization says, “one of the obstacles to breastfeeding continues to be concern over whether or not it is acceptable to do so in public. Some women fear offending others if they breastfeed in public places”. My two cents: wearing a nursing top may make you feel a lot more confident when nursing in public. The fear of offending others disappears when you wear one, that’s for sure! If more women felt confident enough to nurse in public, I am convinced that it would have a positive impact on the population in general and that would be less discrimination against nursing mothers. Get out there and nurse in public, ladies! Wear a nursing top to calm your fear (founded or not) of offending others or to feel pretty. Stand your ground, ’cause breastfeeding is a beautiful thing.