Feeding-friendly Cheltenham exists to support breastfeeding mothers and bottle-feeding parents, with their right to feed their baby in a safe space without fear of judgement.
We will work with local businesses and organisations to provide education on the need for such places and to provide material that will enable parents to recognise those which are a member of the scheme.
What the law says
The Equality Act 2010 protects the rights of breastfeeding mothers and states that it’s discrimination to treat a woman unfavourably because she is breastfeeding.
This applies to any organisation providing services, benefits, facilities and premises to the public, public bodies, further and higher education bodies and association. Service providers who deal directly with the public must not legally discriminate, harass or victimise a woman because she is breastfeeding.
To be clear, discrimination includes refusing to provide a service, providing a lower standard of service or providing a service on different terms. For example, you can’t be asked to stop breastfeeding, move, cover up or be refused service by a café owner.
Does the age of my child matter?
There is no age restriction; the law applies to women breastfeeding a child of any age.
Where can a woman breastfeed?
The protection of the law covers most public areas including parks, sport and leisure facilities, public buildings and on public transport. You are also protected in shops, restaurants and hotels regardless of their size, and places like hospitals, theatres, cinemas and petrol stations.
You can read more on the right to breastfeed in public on the Maternity Action page.
While bottle-feeding may not have traditionally attracted the negative comments or judgements sometimes associated with breastfeeding in public, we believe that the right to feed should be extended to include all parents, however they nourish their baby.
Any parent knows that it can be stressful to find somewhere to feed a hungry baby, especially if they’re really letting you know about it! Bottle-feeding parents are no exception and also require a seat, and to feel safe and comfortable, while doing this.
So, with all this in mind, you may be wondering why we need a scheme that advertises welcoming spaces for feeding parents.
Well, despite the law, mothers and parents can still face contempt, open hostility and, at worse, downright discrimination while trying to feed their baby, although these instances are thankfully rare.
Feeding-friendly Cheltenham believes that giving businesses a way of letting parents know that they’ll be welcomed and treated fairly, will contribute to a positive culture around baby-feeding and bring another level of warmth to our town for residents and visitors alike.
If you own a business in Cheltenham or the surrounding area with premises suitable to offer a safe and welcoming space for parents to feed their babies, please sign up to the Feeding-friendly Cheltenham scheme and help bring another level of warmth to our town for residents and visitors alike.
Businesses will receive a sticker to display in their window to let customers know that they are feeding-friendly. They will also be added to the Feeding-friendly Cheltenham directory and map so families can search and plan ahead.