Call for cafe signs to help new mums
A group of Palmerston North mothers and an Ashhurst cafe with a "breast is best" policy are calling for breastfeeding-friendly signs in cafes.
Palmerston North mother Liz Ricketts said signs on doors or cafe windows would help new mums choose the best places to breastfeed when out and about.
"It would point out those cafes that go the extra mile," she said.
"We need signs on cafes that say breastfeeding friendly . . . we would feel so much more comfortable."
Ms Ricketts said glances and comments were not a big problem in Palmerston North but they did happen. "I've had a few problems. It's not huge but it's the looks people give you and it makes you feel self-conscious.
"With some people it's the grunts and the groans and the shaking of the head but you just carry on because you don't worry about offending people, your baby comes first."
Palmerston North mother Emma Sarten said mums in the region were aware of "a couple" of negative experiences in cafes.
"Sometimes people say they have a mother's room, but I don't know if they are being nice or want to get me out of the room - I don't want to be hidden away," she said.
"And I've got friends who cover their babies because they feel more comfortable and also because the baby feeds better."
Palmerston North mother Rachel Hansen said she felt as if she won a medal after feeding her 18-month-old daughter at The Wetlands Cafe in Ashhurst and getting a free coffee.
"I'm starting to feel more self-conscious because she's getting older and the World Health Organisation recommends breastfeeding until they are 2 years," she said. "But the public perception is between six months and one year . . . she will shout ‘milk, milk' and that's just not socially acceptable.
"My best experience was at The Wetlands Cafe - they came up and said it was so good to see it and that the community needs to do more to support it."
Hospitality Association New Zealand chief executive Bruce Robertson said he wasn't aware of any signs being used in cafes. It would be up to individual cafes if they wanted to display a sign.
The Wetlands Cafe owners Craig and Lori Teddy support breastfeeding in their cafe after their experiences of "being shovelled away" years ago. "Initially when I saw mums breastfeeding I wanted to give them free cakes but I thought babies would respond negatively to that so I started clipping coffee cards for them to use on drinks," Lori said.
"Promoting breastfeeding at the cafe is something we talked about before we opened in December. It's about creating community . . . it's helping us and it's creating a good environment for them."