Breastfeeding in public remains unfortunately controversial, but you'd think there is at least one place where breastfeeding moms would always be welcome — a breastfeeding conference in Scotland. Turns out the organizers of the "Shifting the Curve — Sharing the Challenge Breastfeeding Summit" conference weren't really cool with actual moms actually breastfeeding babies.
One woman found this out in a roundabout way — when she was filling out a meal plan form for the conference, she indicated that she was dairy free because she is breastfeeding. She was then told that breastfeeding wouldn't be appropriate, and that the conference was intended for professionals, not breastfeeding moms.
When she complained, she was told that there would be special facilities made available for nursing moms, which isn't much better. The amazing, ironic thing is that the conference, which is open to anyone who works with children and families, is meant to break down the barriers to breastfeeding. So of course it makes perfect sense to shuffle the nursing moms who attend out of the room to a specially-designated spot to nurse, doesn't it?
The organizers have since backtracked and stated that moms can nurse wherever they would like, but if desired, they can retreat to a special private nursing area. A spokesperson said, "The event was initially organized for health professionals and service providers. But we are sorry that mums were initially told they wouldn't be able to attend this event with their babies, and following a number of enquiries from mothers we have now arranged baby changing facilities so they will be welcome to breastfeed in the sessions or, if preferred, in the quiet areas provided."
It's a strange set of mixed signals for sure, and while the event was designed for professionals and service providers, it doesn't make sense that they'd specifically leave out moms who are nursing their own babies — who, yes, can also be working professionals.
Accommodating breastfeeding moms should have been the first order of business for the organizers, not an afterthought. It's wonderful they eventually realized the error of their ways, but I have to shake my head at how ridiculous this was in the first place.
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