Nursing mothers in Taipei City will no longer need to scramble to find a place to breastfeed their babies starting Thursday after the Public Breastfeeding Regulation (公共場所母乳哺育自治條例) takes effect, but advocates yesterday said the central government must quickly follow suit in protecting the rights of mothers to breastfeed in public nationwide.
The new regulation stipulates that nursing mothers are allowed to breastfeed in all public spaces without having to go to a designated room. Anyone who tries to prevent a nursing mother from breastfeeding in public will be subjected to a fine of between NT$5,000 and NT$30,000.
“We are happy to have Taipei City's support and we urge the central government to enact a national law so that nursing mothers across Taiwan can enjoy the same rights and protections,” said Lin Chun-yi (林君怡), president of the Breastfeeding Association of Taiwan.
Lin said that although many public spaces, such as train and metro stations, rest stops and companies have designated breastfeeding rooms, “there are simply not enough because babies, especially newborns, need feeding all the time.”
She acknowledged that some mothers might be too embarrassed to bare their breasts in public and others shy away from public breastfeeding concerned over how their husbands might react.
“There are many techniques and even clothes or wraps that mothers can use without fully exposing themselves so others cannot tell when they are breastfeeding,” she added.
A draft of the regulation has been submitted to the Legislative Yuan for review.
Democratic Progressive Party Lawmaker Huang Sue-ying (黃淑英) who sits on the Sanitation, Environment and Social Welfare Committee said Department of Health officials and a few committee members will discuss the draft next week to hash out a preliminary consensus before bringing it to the committee for a formal review.
Lee Pei-chun (李霈君), a 31 year-old mother said she does not mind breastfeeding her baby in public but “the real issue is not the absences of a national law,” she said. “It's the lack of public awareness that breastfeeding on the streets is as normal as eating a bowl of noodles.”