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How come Australia is so cool about breastfeeding?

(37 Posts)
vigglewiggle Mon 22-Aug-11 11:43:37

Just been spending a few weeks here and it has become blindingly obvious how cool they are about BFing. Women feed in public without any requirement for modesty-wear. Random men will come and chat to them while they do it. It is nonchalantly referenced in television programmes...

How has it become so?

colditz Mon 22-Aug-11 11:46:37

I honestly think australians are slightly coolerabout everything. The seem to be the least uptight race on the planet. It's probably to do with having a huge amount of space available to chill out in envy

Catsdontcare Mon 22-Aug-11 11:47:36

what colditz said

shitmagnet Mon 22-Aug-11 11:50:45

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

vigglewiggle Mon 22-Aug-11 11:51:16

I was hoping for something that the UK could learn from. Not sure what we could do about space! grin

shitmagnet Mon 22-Aug-11 11:51:43

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

halohasslipped Mon 22-Aug-11 11:54:06

It is postively re-inforced at your stay in hospital that it is your baby's right and no-one can dare to ask you to stop and how wonderful you look doing it etc. There's lots of baby love!! Also, what with the beach culture, showing skin isn't so much of an issue.

The hospitals also teach you how to bath them, settle them etc with classes every morning that you can come back to, if you are struggling. A lovely country to have a baby in!

thelittlestkiwi Mon 22-Aug-11 12:00:20

Same here in NZ. Rates are very high. All of my baby group fed for a while, most made it to 4 months. Two things really helped me. Firstly, seeing a breast feeding consultant in the early days - which was free. Secondly, there are lots of facilities for kids. The malls here all have breastfeeding rooms which are very well equipped. Some have cubicles with curtains, sofas and clocks. My visit back to the UK was a bit of a shock.

vigglewiggle Mon 22-Aug-11 12:01:06

It seems that way. I sat next to a group in a cafe and a woman was BFeeding her baby. She started to explain that she was experiencing problems with engorgement and associated symptoms and the whole group of men and women joined in the discussion.

I couldn't imagine something similar happening in the UK without one or two people shuffling nervoulsly in their chair.

usingapseudonym Mon 22-Aug-11 12:01:22

Apart from the fact that they don't allow homebirths in most states in Australia!

I can't say I found any difference in the UK/Oz but then I think I was very lucky in the UK I didn't have any problem ever bf here.

vigglewiggle Mon 22-Aug-11 12:04:14

The rooms and curtains are all well and good for those who feel they need them, but what is apparent here is that everyone seems happy with an overt (but not showy-offy - whatever that means grin) style of breastfeeding.

vigglewiggle Mon 22-Aug-11 12:08:40

I didn't experience any direct problems with public feeding in the UK and TBH my desire to get out and about meant that I just got on with it regardless. But I was much more aware of the fact that people were more embarrassed about it in the UK and it was certainly not so casual and commonplace.

stargirl30 Mon 22-Aug-11 12:32:39

I see more people covering up while they feed here. At first I thought it was modesty but now I'm feeding DS I realise they are just shading baby from the sun a lot of the time lol!!!
Perhaps BF rates are helped by the fact that formula is bl**dy expensive....

vigglewiggle Mon 22-Aug-11 12:37:07

Ah.. But then everything is expensive!

NUFC69 Mon 22-Aug-11 13:07:22

My two children are 35 and 32 and my daughter had her first baby in February. Even then there was a debate about how to get more people breast feeding and also about problems with feeding in public. I can't believe that we haven't moved on in all those years. However, I stayed in hospital for eight days with my first and a week with my second. What this meant, of course, was that there was always plenty of help on hand with feeding - and we were shown how to bath our baby, etc., etc. I actually feel very sorry for mums today - they are given so much advice but quite often nobody actually shows them how to do things.

It's good to hear that Australia has a relaxed attitude to breast feeding in public - let's hope that it eventually catches on here.

ninedragons Mon 22-Aug-11 14:13:15

It is fantastically well supported. In my health authority area there is a daily drop-in breastfeeding school that rotates around five suburbs in the area run by a team of midwives, so you can always get someone to check your latch or your position. I went to the GP about something completely unrelated (ie my health problem) when DD was a few weeks weeks old, and the GP asked me to stick around until DD needed a feed so she could observe it and make sure everything was ok.

I think a lot of it is partner support. When I went to breastfeeding school there were quite a few women there with their husbands. Indeed earlier this evening I sold a breast pump to a fireman for his wife, and we had a knowlegeable chat about expressing and pumps.

I go to the local flea market most weekends and there are always loads of women sitting around under the big tree in the middle feeding babies. I was thinking last weekend that it would be far more embarrassing to pull out a bottle of formula than it would be to whip out a boob.

eightyone Mon 22-Aug-11 21:44:59

Im from Australia but had my baby over here and was surprised about the whole 'issue' of bf vs bb that was here. Never really knew about formula over there as everyone I knew (from what I remember) bf their babies at least until 4-6 months.

One difference is that although formula advertising is not allowed in either UK or Au for young infants, formula for older babies is advertised in the UK while it isnt in Australia. I really wasnt even aware of formula over there, even though I knew it existed, and couldnt tell you brand names. There seems to be a lot of advertising for follow-on milk here that heightens formula brand awareness IMO.

I am not bothered about bf in public and and have never been self-concious about my body(maybe it is a cultural thing?) but have felt the need to cover (completely) up as people over here do seem uncomfortable about it. People have been very polite over here though and I have had no negative reactions/comments. I did come across 2 older women who were very kind in helping me cover up a screaming baby whilst feeding on a bus, they were very concerned about tucking us both in!

Will be interesting to see the difference over there when I go back for a holiday, hopefully people are less embarrassed/uncomfortable as I hate having to drape a blanket/muslin over my baby's head and he dislikes it also.

greensnail Mon 22-Aug-11 21:59:06

Really interesting. SIL in in Australia and says she is constantly getting people telling her how much easier it would be to give her baby a bottle. She's also much more concerned about covering up when feeding than I ever have been feeding my two in the UK. She's obviously just been unlucky in the people she's encountered.

thelittlestkiwi Mon 22-Aug-11 22:01:29

I think there are so many people here with small kids, and so many more bf that it is just more common. People are used to it and it is seen as the norm rather than an oddity, which was the impression I got in the UK. At my local park there are normally at least two or three people feeding each time I go.

I'm rather shy and found the facilities here very helpful. I resented the idea that I should be willing to feed in public if I wasn't comfortable with it. The facilities made the difference between me being happy to go out and staying at home in the early days. There was a lot of pressure on me to bf, although this was something I chose to do for myself so was completely unnecessary.

PacificDogwood Mon 22-Aug-11 22:05:19

There was a HUGE campaign in Australia a good few years ago (?>20) to turn around their appalling BFing rates AFAIK.
I don't know the details, but the current good BFing culture was not always so. I think legislation was changed and vast sums of money was spent on BFing education of HCP etc.

Having said all that (not that it is that much wink), I had wonderful BFing support in the UK (I needed it!) and never encountered any negative attitudes.

<<off to google to find out what turned things around in Australia>>

TikTok knows a lot about this, I think, or one of BFing gurus anyway...

PacificDogwood Mon 22-Aug-11 22:05:39

one of the BFing gurus, sorry

PotPourri Mon 22-Aug-11 22:16:04

In my opinion, it all needs a kickstart. If we saw more women bfing then it would be more normal and we could have those discussions around the table. I know my hubby would have plenty to contribute to that discussion if it was more socially normal to do so, as he has watched me going through the mill and having a million problems! Oh how I wish I had had that sort of support all around with my older children.

I don't know about australia and how they have done it, but I do have a friend who used to live there and said it was quite heavy handed messages about how you really must feed to 2. She fed to 18 months and felt like a bit of a failure - just one person of course so not representative. And I work with someone else who lived in Australia but who is not all that bothered about BF - so I guess it is a mixed bag really. Can't win em all and all that

PacificDogwood Mon 22-Aug-11 22:21:03

I am drowning in on-line statistics - 'tis too late to wade through it all. Anybody who can be bothered, there is lots of hits when googling 'Australia and BFing'.

<<goes to bed>>

ninedragons Mon 22-Aug-11 23:33:13

Maybe in part it's the cafe culture here. There are millions and millions of independently owned cafes all striving to offer great service. Every time I've been a cafe and reached into my shirt to unclip my bra, I've had a waiter materialise instantly with a glass of cold water and a magazine, and told to just ask if I need anything else. I guess that helps to normalise it for everyone, if women get actively supported when feeding in public.

A couple of weeks ago there was a thread naming and shaming a cafe from which a poster had been ejected when she went to feed, and I thought at the time that would never happen in Sydney. Well, actually a similar thing did happen a year or so ago, and it was considered so outrageous that it made the evening TV news, so it would be guaranteed to kill your business stone dead.

ninedragons Mon 22-Aug-11 23:34:20

The poster had been asked to leave a cafe in London, I mean.

Foggy brain

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