In Ontario, all pregnant and breastfeeding mothers are protected under the Ontario Human Rights code. Part of this code gives breastfeeding moms the right to breastfeed anytime anywhere (including public areas) without being disturbed, asked to stop, move, or cover up. Services must also be provided free from discrimination. This Pregnancy and Breastfeeding brochure from the Ontario Human Rights Commission provides more information on your rights in pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Returning to work
If you plan on returning to work and want to continue breastfeeding, talk with your employer about any breastfeeding requirements you may have. An employer has a level of responsibility to accommodate any needs you may have for breastfeeding or expressing milk for your child. You also have the right to be free from discrimination from your employer, coworkers and clients. If you are looking for more information related to this, see the Policy on preventing discrimination because of pregnancy and breastfeeding from the Ontario Human Rights Commission.
Employers: The importance of creating a breastfeeding welcome atmosphere
Breastfeeding is recognized as an important way of promoting health and preventing disease for a lifetime. It is also environmentally friendly and saves families money. Public Health Sudbury & Districts promotes community acceptability of breastfeeding in public through the promotion of breastfeeding welcome premises.
Most breastfeeding mothers will, at various times, need to feed their baby outside the home. However, research shows that many mothers feel uncomfortable breastfeeding in public, which is a barrier to continued breastfeeding. Creating a community in which breastfeeding is welcomed and supported serves two purposes: it means mothers will feel comfortable breastfeeding their children wherever they are and whenever they need to be fed (which is a great outcome in itself) but it also increases the visibility of breastfeeding which helps to normalize it amongst the general population. By becoming a visibly breastfeeding welcome premise, you are also showing the community that your premise is family-friendly.
What can you do as an employer?
- Have staff read the Staff Tips for Creating a Breastfeeding Welcome Atmosphere (below).
- Display a Breastfeeding Anywhere Anytime decal (order one below) in your business as a way of letting families know that staff are aware and respectful of a woman’s right to breastfeed in public.
- Support staff who are breastfeeding. For more information on supporting staff, please visit Creating a Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace by Ontario Public Health Association.
Tips for creating a breastfeeding welcome atmosphere
Under the Ontario Human Rights Code, parents have the right to breastfeed anytime, anywhere without being asked to stop, move or cover-up.
How can you can make a mother who is breastfeeding feel more comfortable?
- Ask a woman with a baby if she would like to sit. Allow her to pick a spot where she will be comfortable breastfeeding, if she chooses.
- Talk to her in a comfortable manner. Ask about her baby.
- Know that it’s okay to make eye contact with a mother who is breastfeeding. This shows her that you are comfortable and that you support her.
- Provide a clean place for a mother to breastfeed discretely if she so requests and if space allows. Don’t send mothers into a washroom.
If a customer expresses a concern about a woman breastfeeding in public:
- Explain that under The Ontario Human Rights Code, parents have the right to breastfeed in public anytime, anywhere without being asked to stop, move, or cover-up.
- Offer to move the concerned customer to another seat instead of offering another seat to the breastfeeding mother. This supports the fact that breastfeeding her baby is a right.
Post a Breastfeeding Anywhere, Anytime decal at your entrance, reception and/or cash to show your support for breastfeeding. To request a decal, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This item was last modified on April 18, 2018