Breastfeeding saga

FED UP: Local mums and babies Natasha Baxter, Tysha and Zekeual Douglass (six months), and Katie and Savannah Fisher (eight months) are taking a stand against public breastfeeding discrimination after a series of confrontations over the past five months.

FED UP: Local mums and babies Natasha Baxter, Tysha and Zekeual Douglass (six months), and Katie and Savannah Fisher (eight months) are taking a stand against public breastfeeding discrimination after a series of confrontations over the past five months.

A group of mothers in Young - fed up with the abuse, condescending looks and snide remarks they get while breastfeeding in public - say they’re being discriminated against.

Mother-of-four, Natasha Baxter, is one of these mums.

She says she’s experienced three verbal attacks in the past five months, one of which left her particularly shaken.

The first incident occurred as she was breastfeeding her four-week-old daughter while seated in Boorowa Street.

She maintains she was confronted by three individuals who told her what she was doing was illegal and disgusting and should be undertaken in the confines of her home.

The second confrontation also occurred in the main street when a woman walked up to Natasha and started abusing her.

“A lady got within five centimetres of my face screaming and no-one did anything, no-one stopped her, they just went about their day,” she said.

“I’m a confident person, but when someone’s standing over the top of my child screaming... that scares me because that person scared my baby. 

“I couldn’t say anything - I covered myself up, got in the car and left.”

When subjected to the same treatment while feeding her daughter during a family day out at a park in December, it was the final straw.

“[It has made me feel] horrible, absolutely horrible,” she said.

So much so she stopped leaving the house with her children.

“It’s not like you can program a breastfed child to run on a clock, you just don’t know.”

Natasha said she even considered formula feeding in order to avoid future encounters. 

“I nearly gave up breastfeeding because of it,” she said.

“I’ve never experienced it before, it’s like people have gone backward with acceptance.

“People didn’t seem to bat an eyelid [in the past], but it’s completely different this time - it’s ignorance and not being educated of what’s acceptable.”

Natasha isn’t alone in her experience, with fellow mothers Tysha Douglass and Katie Fisher also subjected to abuse which, they say, is mostly coming from other woman.

While Young Shire Council offers a Baby Care Room during business hours from Monday to Friday, Katie would like to see businesses play their part in accepting breastfeeding mothers.

“It’d be nice to know more businesses in town who are breastfeeding friendly,” Katie said.

“It’s hard to find somewhere to feed and be comfortable at the same time without the snide comments and dirty looks.

 “It’s making a lot of women not want to breastfeed and that’s sad, why should we feel ashamed or shunned?” 

While Natasha is still summoning the courage to go out in public again, she hopes by sharing her story she will raise awareness on the matter. 

“With breastfeeding, women try cover up more because of that stigma, but it’s more acceptable to walk around with a low cut shirt and shorts than it is to feed your baby,” she said.

“I want people to be more educated, I want to push that you can’t do this to someone that has freedom of choice and wants to do what’s right for their child.

“I don’t think people understand how damaging it can be.”

Local police have confirmed that breastfeeding in public is not an offence, nor is it indecent exposure if the breast is exposed.

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