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Breastfeeding: You have your say

Protected by law

I AM writing from Friends of Breastfeeding concerning the "Breast is best when it’s not in public" article by Marisa Mackle.

We have received numerous complaints from nursing mothers nationwide in response to this article.

I would like to draw your attention to the Equal Status Act (2000-2004) which protects nursing mothers under Irish Law against discrimination and harassment (including sexual harassment) in the use of and access to a wide range of services, including shops and restaurants. Protection for mothers breastfeeding in public is provided under two of the nine discriminatory grounds covered by the act:

>The Gender and Family Status grounds allows mothers to breastfeed comfortably in public places by protecting them from being discriminated against or harassed because they are breastfeeding.

>The Intoxicating Liquor Act (2003) -- Section 19.

This prohibits discrimination occurring in a public house and provides access to the District Court for redress harassment is unwanted conduct related to any of the discriminatory grounds covered by the Equal Status Act.

In a recent survey it was found that Ireland has one of the lowest breastfeeding rates in Europe with only 47pc of mothers initiating breastfeeding at birth, with this dropping to 10pc by six months.

The Irish press has a responsibility to nursing mothers to support and protect breastfeeding in Irish society in a positive manner and not to undermine the choices a mother makes to either breastfeed or not or to nurse in public or not.

I trust you will address this issue as a matter of urgency and appropriate action will be taken.


An appalling shame

WITH stigma relating to breastfeeding in public being one of the biggest reasons women give up breastfeeding it is a shame (or to use Marisa Mackle’s word, appaling) that you would publish opinion which is so judgmental. She clearly has issues with the sexualisation of breasts and breastfeeding.

With all of the health benefits of breastfeeding — boosting the immune system, fighting infections, reducing allergic conditions such as asthma and eczema, reducing breast cancer, ovarian cancer osteoporosis fractures, etc, etc — how can this opinion and non-evidence-based writing be of any value? It only makes it seem okay to see women breastfeeding as anything but normal.

Mae Pearson, mother, midwife and breastfeeder, by email

Setback for women

I WAS really sad to see the article "Breast is best when it's not in public" by Marisa Mackle.

It is too bad that Marisa is not empowered enough to embrace the natural act of nursing a baby and is so ashamed by it that she cannot show her breastfeeding photos to anyone. She need not attack another woman, beautiful or not, for being in tune with herself enough to post a picture on the Internet.

I can't speak for Ms Kerr [wife of Hollywood star Orlando Bloom], but I think any publicity that natural childbirth can get (I am a normal mom and have had two, drug-free at home births) should be welcomed.

Of course she had make-up on! She is model! I've seen that picture and it doesn't even reveal her breast. She has much more revealing pictures in her Victoria's Secret spreads.

It just is such a setback to women everywhere, nursing or not, when articles like this are published.

Renee, Ohio, USA, by email


What a shame that Marisa Mackle has used her recent column to spread such a negative message.

She has in no way informed or educated her readers; rather she has served to further alienate and potentially scare those women who are trying to do what they consider best for their children -- feeding them in the way that nature intended. The article was unpleasant, and quite frankly offensive to any right-thinking individual.

Perhaps she meant her column to be controversial? Well, if so, she should be congratulated -- she succeeded. I'm sure that it won't bother her in the slightest that price of her success may have come at a high price for those women who would like to be able breastfeed without being judged. She should be ashamed.

Dominique Ashurst, by email

Leave mums to decide

I WAS really disappointed to read Marisa Mackle's article. On one hand she agrees that breastfeeding is best for babies but on the other she things that it is something that we should be ashamed of.

Breastfeeding rates in Ireland are among the lowest in Europe. If we are in agreement that breast is best, then breastfeeding is something that should be encouraged and applauded.

If Marisa Mackle had her way, breastfeeding mothers would stay indoors in order to save the general public from embarrassment. New mothers can feel isolated enough without woman like Marisa making them feel like they should stay at home.

Every mother makes a decision on how she is going to feed her baby. Whatever decision she makes, she should be supported and not made to feel like she is being judged.

I had no idea who Marisa Mackle was until I googled her. From her website it seems she is an author of chicklit. What a way to insult your target audience Marisa!

Orla Glavey, by email

Was it a plot?

Was it a formal decision of the Herald's to push an anti-breastfeeding agenda or is this something that Marisa Mackle and Aileen Hickie have decided among themselves?

Leanne Griffin, by email

Big stars in favour

I am appaled. In a world in which women struggle to obtain top jobs and top pay in every sector, in a world in which women take maternity leave from work, then return and try to take up where they left off, balancing childcare, sleepless nights and worries . . . this is regressive.

In a country in which breastfeeding rates are low and guilt rates are high . . . this is regressive.

In a world in which women's bodies are objectified . . . this is regressive.

I couldn't agree with Mackle less. Women should breastfeed in bars and restaurants. They should breastfeed anywhere and everywhere. It benefits both the mother and the baby. It benefits society. Mothers try to do their best. This should be encouraged.

Miranda Kerr is a smart woman. Of course the photo (mentioned by Mackle) is attention-seeking. That is the point. Of course it is also glamorous. That is the point. To see a high-profile model such as Kerr, breastfeed and promote breastfeeding in a way that speaks to our world, with glamour, does wonders for the image of breastfeeding. Many other stars have spoken about their love of breastfeeding; Celine Dion, Gisele Bundchen and Angelina Jolie. By doing this, I am sure they are fully aware of the far-reaching power of their word, as major celebrities.

I assume the Herald is focused on creating controversy, and in turn, boosting sales. Of course a newspaper needs to sell copies, but there's a line. It's sickening to think that the people involved in your enterprise should be affiliated with such uneducated, narrow-minded, judgmental views. Does nobody have standards?

Perhaps the Herald will publish a pro-woman, pro-baby article worthy of people's time in an effort to make up for this offense.

Aine O'Sullivan, by email