So you’ve started breastfeeding and now you’re wondering what the rules are around breastfeeding in public. Well here’s the good news, it is your legal right to breastfeed in any public place in the UK.
This means you are legally allowed to breastfeed your baby in cafes, restaurants, shops, public transport etc.
The Equality Act 2010 has specifically clarified that
it is unlawful for a business to discriminate against a
woman because she is breastfeeding a child.
I’m scared to breastfeed in public, what can I do?
If you feel nervous to breastfeed in public for the first time, don’t worry – this is completely normal. You may wish to go to a quiet place to try it out for the first time, whether this be a library or a local cafe. Or, at first you may feel more comfortable feeding in a public place which has already registered with the Breastfeeding Welcome Scheme. Once you have breastfed in public a few times, you will look back and wonder why you were ever worried – and that’s a promise!
What do I do if someone tells me I can’t breastfeed in a public place?
It is very unlikely that someone will ask you to stop breastfeeding in a public place, however, if they do, they are breaking the law. If you feel confident enough to do so, inform them of your rights and continue feeding, as it is your legal right to feed your baby in any public place in the UK.
The Equality Act 2010 says that it is discrimination to treat a woman unfavourably because she is breastfeeding. It applies to anyone providing services, benefits, facilities and premises to the public, public bodies, further and higher education bodies and association. Service providers include most organisations that deal directly with the public. Service providers must not discriminate, harass or victimise a woman because she is breastfeeding. Discrimination includes refusing to provide a service, providing a lower standard of service or providing a service on different terms. Therefore, a cafe owner cannot ask you to stop breastfeeding or refuse to serve you.*
Nhs.uk. (2017). Breastfeeding in public – Pregnancy and baby guide – NHS Choices. [online] Available at: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/Pages/breastfeeding-in-public.aspx [Accessed 15 Sep. 2017].
Parenting. (2017). Breastfeeding Flashmob Hits UK Shopping Center. [online] Available at: http://www.parenting.com/blogs/show-and-tell/melanie-parentingcom/breastfeeding-flashmob-hits-uk-shopping-center [Accessed 15 Sep. 2017].
Maternity Action. (2017). Breastfeeding in public places. [online] Available at: https://www.maternityaction.org.uk/advice-2/mums-dads-scenarios/6-breastfeeding-rights/breastfeeding-in-public-places/ [Accessed 15 Sep. 2017].*
Anon, (2017). [online] Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/85008/business-quickstart.pdf [Accessed 15 Sep. 2017].