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Breastfeeding in public December 26, 2006

Posted by Aella in Al Khobar, Culture, Saudi Arabia, Sweden.

There is a debate is Sweden right now about the right to nurse your baby in public. We do of course have that right only some restaurants are asking women to sit in a special room as oppossed to by the table when nursing.
NursingSwedish writer Linda Skugge ( I won’t call her a journalist since I don’t think she is) recently visited a fancy restaurant (Edsbacka värdshus) when she was asked to sit behind a screen (in a comfortable armchair) and nurse her baby. The place was especially design for women to sit and nurse in but Linda felt it was both unfair and humiliating having to sit there. She made a big drama about it in the restaurant and later wrote about it in one of Swedens leading tabloids Expressen. After this article she has received emails from people all over Sweden both supporting her and opposing her argument. People supporting her are asking what happened to equality between men and women and if women nursing are assumed to stay at home.

I am wondering, do you see any men sitting with their shirts open in 2-star Michelin Guide restaurants? And what is this urge to sit among people with the risk of exposing your breasts? Personally I would ask for the right to have a clean, peaceful and safe place to nurse in, in any restaurant I visit. I really can’t understand people asking for the right to nurse in front of other people. And how is it related to equality between men and women (please do enlighten me) . Then again the fight for equality has a long time ago gone haywire in Sweden in my opinion. It has gotten to the point where most people are confused. Many men are acting as if being helpful will get them a prison sentence and women are asking for things and making drama about things that has nothing to do with equality. 

Here in Khobar, Saad Hospital have just started a Breastfeeding Awareness Campaign in order to get women to feed their little ones in a natural way. They are handing out information leaflets about the benfits of nursing your baby and they have also changed some of the “Womens waiting rooms” to “Nursing areas”. A really good initiative in my opinion. It would be interesting to know how if restaurants and malls here have special areas for this purpose. I am imagining it should be common here to find such rooms.

To Swedish women wanting to breastfeed by restaurant tables I say, go ahead and do it but also remember that other people are entitled to their opinions on this matter just like you are. If it cannot be done in a discreet way then you will just have to take that discussion with people around you. Buhu.



1. Balqis - December 26, 2006

Here in Oman I’ve seen some friends doing it using that big hijab covering shoulders and is nice, but it happens only in private meetings between us ladies.
Anything which makes us do something a little bit differently is collected under the “gender equality gap”
What to do

2. Sous - December 26, 2006

Aha, you are right. Some people aren’t happy until we are all some kind of unisex creatures. I am all for breastfeeding but why not take the opportunity to sit in a nice place when one can? Like you said, what to do?

3. Bob - December 26, 2006

Aha, and what about the equality of I-don’t-really-want-to-have-a-breast-feeding-scene-in-
front-of-me-while-having-my-lunch-or-dinner? Don’t get me wrong I mean it IS the best thing ever and all but there is a baby attached to it!!!!

4. Sous - December 26, 2006

Hehe well people thinking like that have no right to speak according to some 😉 .

5. Balqis - December 26, 2006

go search for Anna Nicole Smith C section video on web and watch it while eating a burger.
Then you’ll be scared for sure :p

6. annoos - December 26, 2006

This is the Swedish version of “Women Driving” in Saudia, lol

But seriously, what this has to do with equality..?!
Men don’t breastfeed for God’s sake..!
I think that some people are just obsessed with equality, as there are people who never believe in equality..

7. Bob - December 26, 2006

Seriously Balqis, I can’t look at ANS’s face while eating a burger…. why should i look at her C Section ? just the thought of that is scary

8. Sous - December 26, 2006

Yes Annoos, this is the Swedish fight hehe. Don’t we have better issues to address in Sweden in regards to womens right one may wonder?
I think Anna Nicole is a GREAT role model for women all over the world by the way so stop insulting her 😛 !

9. Preya - January 3, 2007

I agree with you–if I were breastfeeding, I would WANT a private place to do so; I can’t relate to women who demand the right to expose their breasts–for whatever reason–in public, let alone in a 5 star restaurant.

10. Eladio - January 5, 2007

Breastfeeding is the best way to keed world childrens immune system healthy. The issue should be attract breastfeeding mothers to whatever place posible, public and private. Thanks

11. Eladio - January 5, 2007

Breastfeeding is the best way to keed world childrens immune system healthy. The issue should be attract breastfeeding mothers to whatever place posible, public and private. Thanks

12. Sous - January 6, 2007

I absolutely agree but I think we also have to respect that some people don’t want others to feed at restaurant tables for ex.

13. Expat fast - January 9, 2007

In most good malls around the middle east the ladies prayer areas have a bench or other seating outside the washing up area. I breast feed my daughter there regularly when we are out and about and it provides a nice oppertunity to enjoy conversation with local ladies in a man-free locale. All women love to talk about babies.

With regard to the issue of public breastfeeding in western countries; It seems ironic that everybody generally wanted to see my breasts, until my baby needed them…

Great blog. Keep up the good work.

14. Sous - January 9, 2007

Thank you 🙂 and that is a good point actually. People do like everything to do with boobs ’til a baby needs them 😉 . And thanks for the info on where one can nurse. This will be really useful for me soon inshalla 🙂 . It’s a great thing that there are such places. In Beirut there wasn’t (or at least I never heard of them) and it caused a lot of stress when we were out shopping.

all the best

15. Expat fast - January 9, 2007

Hey sous,

Things may be different in malls in the magic kingdom, but I would expect that nursing mothers would be well provided for. The Holy Quran dictates that a mother should breastfeed her baby until it’s two years of age. One would hope that a country as Devout as saudi would do all in thier power to enable that.

Best wishes for a healthy and gorgeous baby. Be sure to post pictures.

Cheers- EF

16. Sous - January 10, 2007

Thank you so much 🙂 .

17. Melanie - December 31, 2008

Hello from Utah!

Until I had my first baby, I totally sympathized with your point of view. Why not use a serene place in a comfortable chair if it is offered to you? Then I found out that breastfed babies seem to eat much more often than bottle-fed babies. Constantly! If you always opt for the private area for nursing, you will miss every adult conversation and your dinner will always be cold (if you don’t miss eating altogether). Of course, if you are perfectly prepared for every single situation, you can have a bottle of fresh breastmilk with you and feed the baby at the table. That way you don’t miss the conversation, but you still don’t get to eat — one arm holds the baby and the other hand holds the bottle. Why not throw a blanket or cover over yourself and breastfeed instead?

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