herald

Sunday 17 November 2019

'Don't breastfeed here', passport office tells mum

Tech worker Victoria Page and baby son Alexander
Tech worker Victoria Page and baby son Alexander

Mum Victoria Page could not believe it when she was told to leave the waiting room at the passport office because she was breastfeeding.

The 37-year-old, from Glenageary, was feeding three-month-old Alexander when she was approached by a member of staff.

"A man comes over and says, 'You can't do...', but he didn't finish. He then said, 'I'm going to show you somewhere that you'd be more comfortable'.

Uncomfortable

"I told him I really didn't mind feeding Alexander where I was.

"You don't stop feeding a three-month old baby without them losing concentration.

"I thought he was going to show me to a mum and baby room, but no.

"The manner I felt wasn't just that he was uncomfortable. He just didn't want me feeding there."

The Equal Status Act 2000 protects breastfeeding mothers from being discriminated against or harassed.

Mothers are entitled to breastfeed in public places and do not have to ask anyone for permission to do so, said the HSE.

"I was very upset by what happened, but if anything, it'll make me breastfeed everywhere," said Ms Page.

"I've never had an issue before. Yes, you always get funny looks, but I wasn't expecting this sort of reaction from someone in a public office.

"If people can't deal with breastfeeding mums, they should be given training.

"If the gentleman really wanted to help me, he could have brought me a glass of water.

"That's how you help a breastfeeding mother."

A spokesperson for the Dep- artment of Foreign Affairs and Trade told the Herald that it had apologised to Victoria and that the situation had been resolved.

"The department's approach to breastfeeding is to support and welcome members of the public and staff in this regard," said the spokesperson.

However, Ms Page, who works in multilingual tech support, described the apology as "tepid".

"I didn't receive anything from the department saying, 'We'll speak to this person' or 'He'll receive training'," she said.

"That's what would have made their apology more believable.

"The department said the member of staff didn't mean anything by it, and we want everyone to feel welcome at the department."

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