Nursing moms were invited to a breastfeeding conference organized by the Scottish government, and then told that they could not breastfeed their babies there. The breastfeeding summit was planned to kick off a whole year of breastfeeding promotion and included health workers and volunteers.
In an odd development, some breastfeeding moms became upset after they were told that the venue where the Scottish breastfeeding summit was being held was “not designed to accommodate” their breastfeeding, according to The Independent. After complaints from nursing mothers, the government of Scotland officials have said they will hold the breastfeeding event, reportedly coined “Shifting the Curve – Sharing the Challenge Breastfeeding Summit,” at the Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh, because it will be more suitable for nursing moms.
“It basically said thank you for your response, but it’s not appropriate for nursing mothers to bring their babies, we will organize a separate meeting for mothers of babies,” parenting consultant Elise Stirling from Bond, Baby! told The Independent, describing an email response from the organizers of the breastfeeding conference. “I was absolutely dumbfounded – I couldn’t believe it at all, so much so that I actually had to go back and check the e-mail word for word to make sure I wasn’t mistaken.”
The Scottish Sun reported that in the email to Stirling, she was told that it was actually “not appropriate” to breastfeed at the event set up to promote and encourage breastfeeding. Stirling said she found the irony of the refusal to allow breastfeeding at the government-sponsored breastfeeding summit unbelievable. Women who had been invited were reportedly asked not to bring their nurslings along with them to the event. Stirling sent back a reply stating that it was discriminatory and illegal, at which point, the organizers announced a different location, according to Metro.
The Scottish Parliament passed a bill ensuring the freedom to breastfeed in public in 2005, according to the UK legislative website.
“I think it’s astonishing that in the first place organizers of a conference on breastfeeding and breaking down the barriers on breastfeeding thought it was appropriate to bar breastfeeding mums and babies from the conference,” Scottish Labour MSP Elaine Smith told The Independent.“I’m pleased that the decision has been overturned because it made no sense at all and I trust that any breastfeeding babies who turn up will be more than welcome to be in the main auditorium.”
A spokesperson from the Scottish government explained the new accommodations.
“When Scottish Government officials began planning the conference the number of mothers with babies planning to attend the event was underestimated. Consequently we have already arranged for an extension to the baby changing facilities, and a quiet area for mothers and babies to ensure that all who wish to attend can.”
UKIP party leader Nigel Farage recently stated that breastfeeding mothers should “sit in the corner” and refrain from breastfeeding in an “ostentatious” way, and London Mayor Boris Johnson made it clear that breastfeeding mothers “can do it in a sort of discreet way,” according to The Independent.
It is unclear by the statement from the Scottish spokesperson about the breastfeeding summit alterations if the organizers plan to force nursing moms to breastfeed within the “quiet area” or if public nursing will be permitted throughout the event. The Scottish breastfeeding summit is already completely booked.