Breastfeeding in Parliament: the norm

Senator Larissa Waters has hit the news by breastfeeding her daughter while moving a Senate motion Down Under in Auz. It is refreshing to see a Senator make history by breastfeeding while fulfilling her parliamentary duties.  However it prompts one to reflect why a woman breastfeeding her baby in the public eye makes the news. Why do we feel the need to legislate to protect breastfeeding women who feed in public? Yet there are no consequences for those who harass women that are simply attending to their babies needs. Breastfeeding is a normal behaviour for both the mother and the is the norm. Our norms unfortunately have been becoming less family friendly which is highlighted in Larissa’s tweet “….We need more #women & parents in Parli.' Clearly its time to rethink our norms.

How do we support breastfeeding?

So after reflecting why it is such a big deal to see women breastfeeding in public the next elephant in the room is how can clinicians and researchers assist women to breastfeed successfully? Currently the situation is dire with many women giving up breastfeeding in the first 3 months. This dilemma requires a rethinking of the support provided to mothers and babies, education, as well as targeting research to the major causes of early weaning. Why do we need research if mothers know breastfeeding is good for them and their babies? Well because currently mothers are having a tough time and they are giving up because we don’t have all of the answers or solutions. Bringing all of the players to the table will undoubtedly ensure we have a greater chance of solving the puzzle. Indeed some of Scotland's leading experts in maternal and infant health believe new mothers need to be offered better support with breastfeeding and this requires a cross discipline approach.