The City of Toronto and many communities across Canada have embarked on campaigns that support the benefit of breastfeeding, attempting to remove the stigma of breastfeeding in public.
The uppity and easily-abashed should not stand in the way of a mother's right to feed her child, the Breastfeeding Friendly campaign declares.
Restaurants and movie theatres are encouraged to promote themselves as breastfeeding friendly, parks and community centres are assumed to be safe places for a child to feed in peace and the country's Ministry of Health has issued a variety of literature on the health benefits of breastfeeding — all with the intent of educating society and getting them to chill out about the sight of a breastfeeding mother.
The hope is that adults will grow comfortable with what children already know — babies benefit from the teat.
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You can imagine how it may have come as a shock, then, when a mother in Toronto was told she could not breastfeed at a day care because it was making the children uncomfortable.
The Toronto Star reports that Sheri Hebdon was told she could not breastfeed her twins at the Woodbine Child Care Centre because "this is where children play." She was told to stop and move to another section of the centre — which is an understandably tricky proposition mid-feed.
Elaine Baxter-Trahair, general manager of Toronto Children's Services, told the Star the incident was a misunderstanding, but Hebdon said she was made to feel like she was doing something wrong.
"I felt ashamed, I wanted to cry," she told the newspaper.
Not only does the Ontario Human Rights Code support a mother's right to breastfeed but Health Canada also supports it as the best and healthiest practice of feeding a newborn whenever possible and supports the "Breastfeeding Friendly" campaign.
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The problem many mothers are likely to face when deciding to breastfeed in public is encountering folks who don't understand the health benefits of breast milk or the fact that feedings often can't wait until a parent gets home.
They just know that breasts are naughty and decide to feel uncomfortable.
Chill out. Even dolls are breastfeeding these days.
And recently, Facebook clarified its own stance on users posting breastfeeding photos, saying that most images of a child feeding were compliant with their policies. And these are just images, not the actual, beneficial act of providing nutrition to a baby.
One place a mother should be able to find some solace would be a child-care centre, where employees and visitors are presumably more aware of the ins and outs of caring for children.