MONTREAL – An NDG woman is furious after she says she was directed not to breastfeed in public by a mall security guard.
“It’s not up to a security guard in a mall to police the feeding of their children,” said Megan Howarth, who has two sons.
Howarth says she was told by security at Place Montreal Trust to feed her five-month-old son Miles in a private room the mall keeps for the purpose. But advocates for mothers and other specialists in breastfeeding note that a mother has the right to breastfeed her child anywhere, and that such rooms are made available for privacy, not necessity.
The mall has reached out to Howarth on her Facebook page, saying “breast-feeding is most definitely not prohibited at Place Montreal Trust. This incident… will not be repeated.”
The mall has also said it plans on holding a nurse-in in the near future.
Howarth’s situation comes smack in the midst of World Breastfeeding Awareness week.
“I think there remains still a discomfort with public breastfeeding where people essentially feel uncomfortable,” said Irene Sarasua, a clinical nurse specialist at the Jewish General Hospital.
Over the past decade, breastfeeding has enjoyed a spike in popularity, with advocates touting the health benefits.
“Breastfeeding became less popular when formula companies started putting formulas on the market,” said Renée Boudreau, who’s established a niche-business, a café in NDG, aimed at breastfeeding moms. “Over the past six, seven or eight years, it’s become more popular to breastfeed.”
Health centres and other public places are slated to host mass nurse-ins Saturday to raise awareness as part of World Breastfeeding Awareness Week.