What You Need to Know About the Law on Breastfeeding in the United Kingdom

Cultural shifts abound in the United Kingdom when it comes to personal choices for women, like the choice whether or not to breastfeed your child. And since we are more keen to pay attention to what our neighbours think that what is actually our right, you might be tempted to do whatever will make your neighbours or fellow workers most comfortable, even if it isn’t what’s right for you. Breast Feeding LawAs a new mother, you have more rights than you think when it comes to breastfeeding. And just because some people don’t agree with your choices doesn’t mean that you have to do what they want. In fact, there are laws to protect your right to breastfeed when you need to. If you didn’t know that, there might be a few more things that you didn’t know. Read on for help clarifying your rights. Where Can You Breastfeed According to Law? The Equality Act in the United Kingdom gives breastfeeding mothers the protection needed to feed their babies when it’s time to do so. That means that you have the right to breastfeed in public places like airplanes and other public transport (yes, that means the train, too!), public loos, sports complexes, restaurants, hotels, and the places you shop. You can also breastfeed your baby in places like the movie theatre, at the petrol station, and in the cinema. There may be some individuals who don’t like that you have this right, or who may not understand that you are protected by law. Even some business owners and managers may try to stop you from breastfeeding or may ask you to stop or to leave the premises. But they cannot do this. It is against the law for them to treat you poorly just because you are breastfeeding. Scotland has additional protections, making it illegal to attempt to stop any woman from breastfeeding her child in any location that can be accessed by the public. Mothers who are also students additionally have rights on the grounds of higher education campuses. No person, whether in the employ of the university, or someone who is another student, is allowed to try to stop the student from breastfeeding by physical or other means. What About Breastfeeding at Work? In the United Kingdom, new mothers do not currently have the right to take paid breaks to breastfeed or to pump their breast milk. You also do not have the legal right to take a shorter work day in order to breastfeed your baby. However, your work does have to protect you from harassment, and provide clean facilities for their employees, both of which will help you if you are still breastfeeding your child when you return to work. If your work creates such conditions that prevent you from breastfeeding, they could be endangering the safety of you and your child. Most workplaces in the United Kingdom are willing to work with mothers who are returning to work after having a baby. But it is important to know that your workplace is required to create safe working conditions. If your job makes it unsafe for you to work, or exposes you to chemicals that would make your breast milk unsafe for your baby, you have the right to be transferred to a safe job at your same rate of pay. Are There Any Places Where I Cannot Breastfeed My Baby? Although you are protected in private places, there are some places that you may not be able to breastfeed and where you may be legally denied the right. If breastfeeding presents a health or safety risk in the location you can be denied this right. If the service is legally exclusively for men, then you may denied the right to breastfeed at the business. What Do I Do if Someone Violates My Rights? If someone tries to compel you to give up your right to breastfeed in a public place, you have the right to file a complaint against the business or organisation where the violation occurred. If your complaints are not heard by the business or the parent company for the organisation, you can file a suit with the courts in the United Kingdom, Wales, or Scotland, depending on the location of the organisation. A skilled attorney can provide you advice on your situation and help you file a case within the required six-month window in order to have your case heard and make your rights known.

Places That Are Breast Feeding Friendly

Recently the new Equality Act in the UK states its sexual discrimination to mistreat a woman who is breastfeeding. Service organisations who deal with the public on a regular basis such as benefit organisations, service organisations, facilities or premises which are open to the public, any public bodies, higher and further education entities and associations. This means any organisation which offers space to be used by any public being is not allowed to victimise, harass or discriminate against any woman for the act of breastfeeding. In discrimination, this applies to the refusing to serve someone because of breastfeeding, offering a much lower standard of service, or providing a service on special terms. When you plan to dine out at a café, this means no one is allowed you request that you stop the act of breastfeeding, and you cannot be refused to be served you because you are breastfeeding. This protection is not limited to age; the Equality Act protects you for the duration that you wish to breastfeed your baby.

Everywhere Is Supposed To Be Breast Feeding Friendly!

This means, taking your infant to the park, leisure facilities, public buildings and sports facilities are all protected places where you may breastfeed in public. If your trip includes a ride on the bus, train or plane, you are able to continue breastfeeding your baby as well. Public places such as theatres, cinemas. Petrol stations and hospitals are not allowed to discriminate against you for breastfeeding. As a breastfeeding mother, you are also protected in public, shops, restaurants and hotels no matter their size.

A really great part of the Equality Act is if you work for a company where the company provides services to the public, then the company is responsible for the employees as well; this means no one at work can harass you because you are breastfeeding. Because there is no law which is in force to allow you time off to breastfeed your baby, you have the right to ask a flexible work schedule under the health and safety laws for an employee. Some employers may also opt to have places for you to express and store your milk, but they are not obligated to do so, checking with your place of employment is suggested.

College students or students who are attending further and higher education facilities must not be victimise, harassed or discriminated against students in any way when they are breastfeeding. This applies to any premises on the campuses which may be open to the public. Students who chose to breastfeed on campuses may not be excluded from admissions or any provisions of the education system, including services and benefits for students because they are breastfeeding on campus.

Associations are not to victimise, discriminate or harass breastfeeding mothers; this includes entities such as clubs, which include golf clubs where members are asked to pay a fee to join the club with rules of memberships. Private clubs with less than twenty five members which have no real rules of membership includes book clubs would not be considered as a club. Membership clubs where you simply pay a fee to be a part of the club is not considered an association but more of an entity which serves the public. The above rules apply to this type of organisation where people of all shapes and sizes are being served.

If you ever find that you are discriminated against because you are breastfeeding in a public place you are able to file complaints with the companies, organisations, educational groups or service providers. There are forms you are able to submit detailing the problems or treatments you received while breastfeeding. If there is no available complaint form, you should ask to whom you should complain to.

In Scotland, any person has the right to breastfeed and/or bottle feed any child under the age of two. It is a criminal offence to stop or prevent a woman from breast or bottle feeding an infant under two in any location in which people have public access to and in which areas children under two are allowed to be. People who prevent the feeding of children under the age of two may be prosecuted and may be charged in a claim under the Equality Act.

Employers are responsible for ensuring their entire staff is fully aware of the Equality Act. If an employee tries to stop or prevent a woman from breastfeeding in the course of their employment, the employer may also be liable under the equality act, even if the owner were unaware of the entire incident.  If an incident occurs, it is recommended to complain to the employer immediately and if necessary, you may report the matter to the police.

Understanding the Alternative to Breastfeeding

When you’re a new mother, you hear all of the different rules that you must follow again and again and again. In fact, you begin hearing these rules many months in advance of bringing your child into the world. Some of the rules make sense: holding your baby to comfort him or her, feeding your baby, changing their nappies, and ensuring that they get good sleep are all things that you certainly should do to help your child. The purple sweater that your grandmother knitted with matching booties for your son may be a gift that you should cherish, but that doesn’t mean you are required to put your child in that outfit, no matter what etiquette says. Then there’s breastfeeding.

Is breastfeeding a rule? Do you have to breastfeed your baby in order to have a healthy baby? Will you be considered a bad mother if you don’t breastfeed your baby? Will your baby get sick more often if you don’t breastfeed?

The simplest answer is that not all mothers choose to breastfeed. And while there are benefits to breastfeeding your baby, if you can’t breastfeed for medical reasons, can’t get the hang of breastfeeding in time to get your child a proper meal, or just don’t want to breastfeed, there are other options available.

Why You Might Need an Alternative to Breastfeeding

Although breastfeeding is the natural method for feeding for your new born baby well into their infant months, for some mothers, it just doesn’t work. Whether you’re having trouble getting the baby to latch on or having other issues, there are ways to work it out. Here are the most common issues you might have, and alternatives that you can use to ensure your baby gets the nutrition he or she needs to remain healthy.

  • Baby refusing to eat at the breast, or being confused by the nipple. More common than many young mothers think, the first solution to this problem is to correct your baby’s position and try for a latch-on. If that doesn’t work, you may feed your baby by cup, spoon, or syringe, or also finger feed.
  • Your own nipples are flat or inverted and the baby just can’t latch on, no matter what. Cup or spoon-feed your baby in this situation, especially if your doctor cannot help you learn techniques for breastfeeding. The best thing you can do in this situation is to make certain that you feed your baby while holding them naked against your chest. This will help to create and maintain the same bond that babies form with mothers who are able to breastfeed.
  • When you just can’t be with your baby, or when you’re too sick to feed your baby naturally. Believe it or not, even new mothers need a break and need to be away from their babies. And even new mothers get sick. So what do you do when this happens? The same thing other mothers do and have done for years: cup feeding and bottle-feeding.
  • When you have a preemie baby or your baby has other conditions that make it difficult to breastfeed. When your baby has an illness or condition that prevents him or her from breastfeeding, or they are simply too small to do this on their own, bottle-feeding, cup feeding, finger feeding, and SNS lactation aids are some of the most important tools and skills you can have.

But What Do These Alternatives to Breastfeeding Really Mean?

Just because someone tells you that bottle-feeding and cup feeding are alternatives to breastfeeding does not mean that you know what that means. A simple explanation of the best alternatives to breastfeeding is:

  • Bottle-feeding means to feed your baby with a bottle. You will place the formula or your pumped breast milk into the bottle and have your baby drink from it as they would your breast, although this method is often easier for some babies.
  • Cup feeding is a means of feeding babies who have passed 32 weeks of age, and should be avoided in younger babies. This means feeding your baby by using a cup to slowly help them drink the milk or formula. Special baby feeding cups are available to purchase.
  • Finger feeding means to use your finger to feed your child, although you will also need a lactation aid, and it is used when your baby is unable or unwilling to breastfeed. This method teaches your baby to suck.
  • Lactation aids help your baby learn to suck so that they can be trained to breastfeed but also to ensure that they get proper nutrition when they will not do so.


Just because you have difficulties breastfeeding or do not want to does not mean that you are a bad mother, and it is critical to remember this. Using these techniques and tools to help you feed your child will de-stress the feeding process and help you get closer to your baby in no time.