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Breastfeeding Older Babies Still Taboo

BREASTMATES SURVEY RESULTS ANNOUNCED
MEDIA RELEASE 6 July 2010

Results from the recent Breastmates breastfeeding survey conducted by The Nielsen Company showed that breastfeeding at a restaurant table or with a baby over 12 months old causes discomfort for some New Zealanders.

Most New Zealanders feel comfortable with women breastfeeding in public and six in ten (61%) disagreed with the statement 'I feel uncomfortable when women breastfeed in public'.

However, a level of discomfort still exists for some, with just under two in ten (19%) agreeing that they 'feel uncomfortable when women breastfeed in public'.

When asked about specific situations, this level of discomfort becomes somewhat more apparent, specifically:

  • 25% agree that 'at restaurants women should be encouraged to breastfeed in the restroom rather than at the table', and;
  • 23% agree that 'infants over the age of 12 months should never be breastfed in public.

As could be expected, females feel more comfortable with breastfeeding in public than males and 47% strongly disagree that they 'feel uncomfortable with breastfeeding in public' compared with 28% of males.

Women tend to hold stronger views than males with regards to breastfeeding at restaurants and are more likely to strongly disagree that 'at restaurants women should be encouraged to breastfeed in the restroom rather than at the table' (38% strongly disagree and 27% respectively).

Frances McInnes, founder of online maternity store Breastmates, recognises that a balance of breastfeeding and bottle-feeding is the best for mothers. In light of this Frances was particularly pleased to see, that there isn't a strong preference for breast or bottle-feeding in relation to the healthiness and happiness of babies:

  • Similar levels agreed (33%) as disagreed (31%) that 'babies who are bottle-fed tend to be just as health and happy as those who are breastfed'.

Surprisingly, men are more likely than women to consider breastfeeding the healthiest option for the baby, 43% of the women surveyed agreed that bottle fed babies tend to be as healthy and happy as those who are breastfed, whereas only 21% of males agreed with this. Of note, males express some lack of knowledge in this area and are twice as likely to say that they do not know if 'babies who are bottle fed tend to be just as happy as those who are breastfed'.

Views vary slightly by age with no consistent theme for support or opposition. Survey respondents aged 40 to 54 years (65%) were more likely than those of other ages to disagree that at restaurants women should be encouraged to breastfeed in the restroom rather than at a restaurant table. Those aged 55 years and over (30%) were more likely than those of other ages to agree that 'infants over the age of 12 months should never be breastfed in public'.

Not surprisingly, those with children under 5 years tend to be more comfortable with breastfeeding in public than other groups.

"It's great to see that attitudes are changing towards breastfeeding," says Frances McInnes, online maternity one-stop-shop Breastmates' founder and breastfeeding advocate. "But there's a long way to go before a woman's personal choice is respected and the topic is still as hotly debated as ever."

"My aim with the survey is to encourage debate and to promote the idea that everyone's experience with feeding a newborn is unique. I'm an advocate of a non-judgmental approach to new mums that focuses on happy, healthy babies," explains McInnes, "whatever form of feeding that takes."

Breastmates carries a range of feeding equipment to foster both bottle and breastfeeding options, as well as being a source of balanced information on the topic for mothers.

www.breastmates.co.nz

Research was undertaken via The Nielsen Company's Online Omnibus, via a web based survey, across a national sample of 700 New Zealanders aged 15 years and over.

For more information, images, interviews with Frances or additional resources on breastfeeding, please contact Breastmates

Or view our Facebook Community which has a balance of Boob & Bottle.