No reason for women to be embarrassed by feeding

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When reading the story about Heather Vaughan and her experience of trying to breastfeed at the Historic Dockyard, one almost has to look at the calendar as a reminder of which century we’re in.

While the dockyards take in hundreds of years of history we live in the 21st century, not the time of Henry VIII or even Admiral Lord Nelson.

The health benefits of breastfeeding have long been established.

And there is absolutely no reason why any woman should be made to feel ashamed or embarrassed for trying to feed their child.

This may have been the result of the actions of one ill-informed member of staff, but it does taint the establishment by association.

It is reassuring to hear that senior management at the National Museum of the Royal Navy have taken the incident seriously and already apologised to Mrs Vaughan.

And also to know that they will be training staff to make sure this never happens again.

But these stories appear in the news with depressing regularity.

Just this week a mother from Staffordshire was labelled ‘a tramp’ online after an anonymous picture was taken of her breastfeeding on a shopping trip. As a result she has organised a pro-breastfeeding petition that has attracted thousands of names.

Good for her. But why is it even necessary to do this?

Is it some sort of prudishness that makes people so uncomfortable?

As Lynn Timms, the owner of Breastfeeding Matters, neatly puts it: ‘Incidents such as this might cause mums to stop breastfeeding or they might avoid going out. It needs to be seen as a natural thing.’

Any remaining stigma attached to breastfeeding needs to go – and that can only happen by informing and educating the public.

Unfortunately many of those campaigns will be preaching to the choir.

It is those who make the complaints that need to realise they should be ashamed.