Up to a third of Australians believe that mothers should not breastfeed their babies in public, shows a new poll.
The Newspoll survey also showed that another third think a baby should stop breastfeeding within six months, despite 65 per cent of people saying that breastfed babies had a better chance of surviving beyond a year old.
AdvertisementThe poll also found only 29 percent "strongly agree" that women should be encouraged do so in public.
Up to 36 per cent said that breastfeeding was unacceptable in a cafe or at work and the survey also found it was young adults - those aged 18 to 24 - who were the least supportive of public breastfeeding.
"It is unacceptable to expect that women should be locked inside their houses to breastfeed," the Courier Mail quoted Dr. Jennifer James, a lecturer in Midwifery and Breastfeeding and Human Lactation at RMIT University, as saying.
"Part of the issue why young mothers wean their babies too early is societal pressure and isolation from other mothers experiencing the same difficulties," she said.
Dr. James is also vice-president of the Australian Lactation Consultants' Association, which commissioned the study of 1000 men and women.
She said the poll showed Australians continued to have "unsympathetic attitudes" towards breastfeeding mums, despite the best efforts of health professionals.
The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding exclusively for a baby's first six months, continuing for up to two years, while solid food is introduced.
Research showed breastfed babies had lower risks of cot death, developing diabetes, and becoming obese.
"While nearly 90 per cent of Australian women initiate breastfeeding, one per cent of Australian children are breastfed for the minimum duration recommended by the WHO," Dr. James said.
"Australia needs a paradigm shift and it has to start in our schools with education that normalises breastfeeding and prevents young adults being shocked or embarrassed," she added.
The study also found 34 percent of respondents felt that a baby should stop breastfeeding within six months, 39 percent said 12 months, and only 10 percent said two years.
A church was the most unacceptable place to breastfeed (29 per cent opposed), followed by work (27 per cent), a cafe or restaurant (26 per cent) and then a shopping center (19 per cent).
Three percent of people found breastfeeding unacceptable at a friend's house, while sixty percent of respondents either agreed or strongly agreed that breastfed babies developed a stronger bond with their mother.