Mothers should bottle feed their babies in public places rather than breastfeed, according to a University of Adelaide survey of community attitudes.
The survey-of more than 3400 people in Adelaide's northern suburbs-shows that 83% of the community believes bottle feeding in public places is a more acceptable practice than breastfeeding.
The survey also shows that mothers feel extremely uncomfortable breastfeeding in public, particularly on public transport, in shopping malls and in public eating places.
The research, funded by the SA Health Commission, was conducted by PhD student Ms Ellen McIntyre from the University of Adelaide's Department of Public Health. Her work is aimed at understanding attitudes towards breastfeeding and improving the level of tolerance in the community.
Ms McIntyre recently held a public consultation in Adelaide's northern suburbs to discuss her results.
Comprising representatives from the retail industry, local council, health providers, the Passenger Transport Board, the Equal Opportunity Commission and consumers, the group made several recommendations aimed at making breastfeeding outside the home more acceptable and easier to do.
- · that mothers be provided with suggestions on how to breastfeed in public
- · signs to designate "baby friendly" places, so that mothers know where they are welcome
- · more facilities for breastfeeding in public buildings frequented by mothers
"While the majority of the community believes that breastfeeding in public is not as desirable as bottle feeding, they also agree that there is not always a place to breastfeed outside the home," says Ms McIntyre, who points out that breastfeeding in public is allowed under the Equal Opportunity Act.
"It's hoped that with more community discussion about these issues people might realise what the rights of breastfeeding mothers are, and also start to develop an acceptance of the practice."