Attitudes of employees working in public places toward breastfeeding

Amy Marsden, Julie Abayomi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The benefits of breastfeeding are well documented but the UK has one of the lowest breastfeeding rates in Europe. Perceptions of social disapproval of breastfeeding in public is one of the main reasons (Acker, 2009; Dyson et al, 2010) why women may choose to bottle feed instead of breastfeeding, or why they may cease breastfeeding early. To better understand the social attitudes toward breastfeeding in public that women may face, the aim of this study is to explore these attitudes and opinions among employees working in public places.Methods: Nine semi-structured interviews were carried out with employees from public places with and without baby-friendly facilities or a breastfeeding policy. Interviews were audiotaped and transcribed verbatim. Transcripts were analyzed qualitatively by sorting and coding data into common themes.Findings: Breastfeeding is viewed as good and natural; however, public breastfeeding still makes some people feel uncomfortable, particularly younger and childless people. Most employees were supportive of women breastfeeding on their premises and their opinions seem unrelated to the facilities offered. Most employees thought breastfeeding facilities should be more widely available but that women should be able to choose whether to use these facilities or not. Breastfeeding education may help to normalize breastfeeding in society and make women feel more comfortable about breastfeeding in public.Conclusions: Most people view public breastfeeding positively; however, there is still a perception that breastfeeding women may feel uncomfortable breastfeeding in public, and private facilities may help to alleviate their anxieties.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)271-277
Number of pages7
JournalBritish Journal of Midwifery
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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