Belfast Telegraph

Ulster mums tell Ukip leader Nigel Farage: We're not sitting in the corner to breastfeed our babies

By Michelle Smyth

Northern Ireland's breastfeeding women have decreed "nobody puts baby in the corner" after Ukip leader Nigel Farage suggested that's where they belong.

Farage, a father-of-four, said yesterday that "ostentatious" breastfeeding made some people uncomfortable and businesses could ask mothers to "perhaps sit in a corner".

His comments came after a mother was asked to cover up while breastfeeding her baby at top London hotel Claridges.

The 2010 Equality Act makes it illegal for businesses to discriminate against breastfeeding women, but Farage (below) said it's up to companies if they want to "maintain rules about this stuff".

He added: "People of the older generation feel awkward and embarrassed by it."

Backtracking, he said: "I remarked that perhaps they might ask women to sit in a corner. Did I say I believe they should have to? No. Women should never be embarrassed by staff asking them to stop, most mums will recognise the need to be discreet in certain circumstances. It's... good manners."

Linda Stewart, a journalist and mum to Neve (4), said she was disappointed by Farage's remarks but "not surprised".

She added it was "attitudes like these" that "create a situation where the UK has some of the lowest breastfeeding rates in Europe".

"I've never in my life seen anyone breastfeeding in an ostentatious manner, not even when I was at my breastfeeding group. You really have to be having a good, hard stare to see something that'll offend you. It's illegal and unreasonable to banish breastfeeding mums into the toilets or a dark corner.

"A baby has every right to have lunch in hygienic, comfortable conditions. It's a strange modern attitude - 50 years ago no one would have turned a hair at the sight of a nursing mum," the east Belfast woman said.

Mum-of-three Geraldine McGuigan, originally from Belfast, said: "Having breastfed all three children, the first 19 years ago when it was just starting to become 'popular' again, I'd like to think that society has moved along with the times.

"There are countless pictures on the internet of women with their breasts out for no other reason than to titillate, why should it be unacceptable for mothers to offer sustenance to their infant?"

Newtownards mum Lesley-Anne Reilly said: "Breastfeeding is hard enough without people making it harder for you with ridiculous comments like that. Would he sit in a corner with a blanket over his head to eat or make someone who was bottle-feeding do this? Plus, it's what breasts are actually meant for."

Background

The 2010 Equality Act makes it illegal for businesses to discriminate against breastfeeding mothers. Some companies such as Ikea have dedicated areas for breastfeeding mums. The NHS says that "breastfeeding is completely natural and it's totally unacceptable for any woman to be made to feel uncomfortable when breastfeeding in public".

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