The Warehouse invites women to breastfeed - anywhere

  • 15/03/2017
A sign at The Warehouse in Palmerston North (NZBA / Supplied)
A sign at The Warehouse in Palmerston North (NZBA / Supplied)

The Warehouse is being congratulated for its "significant step" in allowing breastfeeding anywhere in its stores.

Posters in its stores promote themselves as "breastfeeding-friendly" and the New Zealand Breastfeeding Alliance (NZBA) says that's a major step in normalising what some still consider as a controversial public act.

"Please feel free to breastfeed your baby anywhere in our store. If you would like somewhere more private, please visit our store fitting rooms," the sign reads.

NZBA chair Debra Fenton says while the retail chain had "always supported" breastfeeding mums, their open and public encouragement of it was a big deal.

She praised the company and hoped other businesses would follow.

"While there is growing awareness and acceptance in New Zealand, as demonstrated by The Warehouse, we still have a long way to go before breastfeeding becomes the cultural norm," she says.

While all women have the right to breastfeed in public under the Human Rights Act, Ms Fenton says that doesn't mean mothers feel comfortable in doing it.

"In fact many mothers are ashamed and embarrassed for fear of public scrutiny."

The organisation, a partnership of 33 breastfeeding stakeholder organisations, says the culture needs to change if New Zealand is going to meet the World Health Organisation target of 50 percent of infants being exclusively breastfed at six months of age.

Currently, those rates fall dramatically from 82.8 percent while in hospital to 18 percent at six months.

The international average at six months is 38 percent.

The Warehouse has been contacted for comment.