'Nurse-in' at Woonona to defend breastfeeding rights

Sydney mum Ash Zuko, breastfeeding five-month-old Akiv, is planning to protest outside the Sunrise studios. Picture: Marco Del Grande
Sydney mum Ash Zuko, breastfeeding five-month-old Akiv, is planning to protest outside the Sunrise studios. Picture: Marco Del Grande

Illawarra mums will stage a mass "nurse-in" at Woonona today to defend their right to breastfeed in public and protest comments by breakfast TV host David Koch.

The gathering is timed to support a larger group breastfeeding session occurring this morning at the Sydney studios of the Seven Network's Sunrise program, where Koch is co-host.

Discussing a story about a Queensland woman who was asked to move when she fed her baby on the grounds of a public pool, Koch said the request was "fair enough".

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"I think that's fair enough to say, 'hey, can you be a bit discreeter, go up on the grass or something like that ... that's a high traffic area on the side of the pool in the middle of summer on a hot day," he said.

He later tweeted he supported breastfeeding in public but said it should be done discreetly as a "common courtesy to others".

Tanya Demello, 34, is among 18 women who have indicated on Facebook they will attend the nurse-in at the Woonona Beach pools, 11am.

"I put myself in the position of the mother who got asked to [move] and I would just be really embarrassed and angry if that happened to me," Ms Demello said.

"I want to support her and support all women's right to breastfeed wherever they are.

"Also, I am quite shy about breastfeeding in public. Parent's rooms are usually really hot and uncomfortable and cramped and disgusting so I'm trying to be more comfortable in being able to feed wherever I want to."

Ms Demello added she felt "a bit sorry for [Koch]", whose comments prompted an immediate backlash.

Enraged nursing mothers and other breastfeeding supporters set up a Facebook page to encourage people to participate in the Sunrise Nurse-In outside the program's studios today from 7am.

More than 800 breastfeeding advocates are expected to attend.

"A nurse-in is without doubt needed at the Sunrise studio in Sydney," the Facebook page says.

"Join us on Monday morning to take a stand against this unfair view."

The page goes on to caution the event is "not a hate campaign against [Koch], more of an educational campaign ... Let's hope we can take a tiny step towards normalising breastfeeding".

By last night 634 people had indicated they would attend the nurse-in, with 277 "maybes".

The event has gained publicity with publisher Mia Freedman condemning Koch's comments on her widely read blog.


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