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A Sydney cafe has invited breastfeeding mums to enjoy a free cup of tea. Not everyone is happy though.

There is a sign making it’s way around social media. You might have seen it, it’s about breastfeeding mothers. But this sign is a little different to the rest. Before we jump to conclusions and get outraged about yet another offensive sign out there in the big wide world, just breathe, breathe.

Here it is.

Nice, right?

Well, I thought so. The sign was placed out the front of Willoughby cafe The Willows Cafe and Wine by owner Natala Bain who, as a mother herself, knows how hard it can be for a breastfeeding mother to find privacy. So Natala offered up her cafe as a safe and comfortable place to feed, even kindly providing a free cup of tea for women feeding their bubs. 

But when the post was shared on the Facebook page of the Today show some people were still unhappy. It seems that in welcoming and supporting breastfeeding mothers by offering them a comfortable space to nurse, the cafe owners have managed to offend bottle feeding mums, dads and even grandparents.

Here’s just a few of the comments: 

“You're essentially discriminating against bottle feeding FATHERS yourself. Shouldn't we be able to have somewhere safe and quiet to feed our children too? We already have to struggle with the battle of having minimal change tables available to us in the public..I appreciate what you're saying.. But not only mothers are out there feeding babies these days."

“The first two words are the point here, not the relax part, nor the free part. Do they include dads, grand parents who bottle feed?"

Other people took a different viewpoint.

"I do not understand why anyone would find this negative. I think this is fantastic and more places should encourage breastfeeding mums its ok to come in and feed in a safe place with free of judgement so they don’t have to go to places like toilets ect. Some of our children had to be bottle fed and some of our children have been completely breastfed. As someone coming from both experiences I do not find this negative in any way. Mums who bottle feed don't get told to leave a place to feed their baby, they also do not get told to put a cover on while feeding their baby, they don't feel like they have to go to toilets to feed so they don't offend someone etc."

Image: istock
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I personally think this is all a bit ridiculous. Can’t we just accept a nice gesture for what it is? Of course the cafe owners didn’t write the sign with the intention of offending anyone, quite the opposite. All they wanted to do was to express a support for breastfeeding mothers who at times can feel awkward and embarrassed when feeding in public, not offend anyone else who doesn’t fit in to those two distinct categories.

Do you think you’re not welcome at the cafe if you’re a father, or if you bottle feed? Of course not. But with so much opinion on public breastfeeding it can be very daunting for a breastfeeding mother to know where she can go to feed her child without being told to cover up, or avoid stares. The premise of this sign is simply to show understanding and empathy. Why is that such a bad thing? Sure, we all know that we have the right to feed in public, wherever and whenever baby needs it but just because you have the right to, doesn’t mean you feel comfortable in doing so. Knowing that you’re entering an establishment which supports your situation is great. 

All the cafe aimed to do in putting this sign up was to express a nice gesture to breastfeeding women. Just because you personally do not fit the two words used on the sign does not mean you’re being discriminated against. 

Well done, Natala and to the whole team at The Willows Cafe and Wine.

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