QUEENSLAND mothers are reporting breastfeeding shaming by health practitioners, sparking fury from breastfeeding experts.
Brisbane’s Robyn Thompson, a midwife with a PhD focused on breastfeeding, said she had seen negativity towards breastfeeding mothers in the health industry and women needed to assert their rights and know that breastfeeding shaming is illegal.
Fed up mothers are turning to breastfeeding social media pages to share their frustrations at the attitudes of some health workers.
“There is no place for people airing their personal opinions when it comes to breastfeeding but it is more disappointing when negativity comes in places that should offer the most support,” Dr Thompson said.
“These health workers need better education and be aware that they are acting illegally. It is a baby’s right to breastfeed and a mother’s right to feed her baby.”
Women claim GPs have asked them not to feed during consultations, and nurses in hospitals have closed curtains around them.
Parenting and breastfeeding expert Pinky McKay says she has become more aware of mums being embarrassed and shamed in health facilities.
“It’s difficult enough for vulnerable new mothers learning how to breastfeed without the very people who should be supporting them telling them to cover up,” she said.
One mother posted: “My old GP made me go hide out the back in the staffroom when feeding my baby. I felt so awful. The laws are there but it’s really hard to speak up when you’re suffering severe post natal depression and your baby is sick and it’s the only doctor you know can see you.”
“At my six week post-natal check-up the female doctor said she wasn’t a fan of me breastfeeding and asked me to feed after the appointment, ” another post said.
“I was instructed by the doctor to stay behind the curtain,” added a mum.
Queensland woman Allison Crabb says she has been a victim of breastfeeding shaming with her two youngest children.
“I was in the waiting room of a community health centre waiting to see the lactation consultant as my baby was premature and I needed help when a worker there told me to stop feeding. I was in tears as I was already struggling. After that I ended up being too self-conscious to feed outside the house and in the end I gave up,” she said.
“When my next child was in the hospital a nurse told me to feed behind the curtain. Thanks to support from other mums on facebook I have become stronger and stick up for myself now,” she said.