Winz staffer covers up breastfeeding baby

MONICA TISCHLER
Last updated 09:34 17/09/2013
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Ashley and Kaitlyn
Monica Tischler
EMBARRASSED: Ashley Hollings, 25, was offended when a staff member at Henderson’s Work and Income office covered her daughter Kaitlyn with a blanket while she was breastfeeding her.

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Breastfeeding is one of the most natural things a mother can do for her baby.

So Ashley Hollings didn't think twice when deciding to feed 7-month-old daughter Kaitlyn as she waited for her partner at Henderson's Work and Income office last week.

"I was sitting at one of the nearby tables and Kaitlyn was getting a bit scratchy so I started feeding her," she says.

But she was surprised when a female Winz employee picked up Kaitlyn's blanket from beside them and threw it over the child's head to hide what was going on.

"She said to me, ‘can you use the blanket'?" the Henderson resident says. "I pulled it off and said, ‘for what reason'?

"‘Because there's males here,' was her response."

The employee then placed the blanket back over Kaitlyn's head a second time and Hollings took it off again, telling the staff member she didn't mind if there were men nearby.

"There were quite a few people buzzing around and two males and two females were sitting at my table.

"‘No-one batted an eyelid when I was feeding her," Hollings says.

She says the employee went back to her desk and "continued to sit there and watch me out of the corner of her eye".

Hollings says the worker should have been encouraging breastfeeding rather than embarrassing her. The 25-year-old complained to a manager who apologised for the incident and told her the matter would be looked into.

Work and Income's Auckland regional commissioner Isabel Evans says mothers have always been welcome to breastfeed at Winz sites and private rooms can be requested for mums to breastfeed.

"All people in our sites deserve to be treated with respect and what happened didn't meet our standards and expectations," she says.

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