Breastfeeding – A Challenge in More Ways Than One

Breastfeeding – A Challenge in More Ways Than One

Article by Sarah Williams
Photo courtesy of Défi Allaitement Québec 

Even in 2012, the sight of a woman breastfeeding in public is liable to incite a vast array of reactions and emotions, both positive and negative, in the people around her.  Attitudes may have come a long way since 20 or 30 years ago, but there are still a few prudish folk out there who would prefer that mama keep “the girls” nicely tucked in her shirt.

New parents discover fairly quickly however, that a hungry baby waits for no one. You are often forced to make a difficult choice: bother the people around you with the insistent cries of your baby, or risk making a few people uncomfortable by whipping “it” out right then and there. 

Breastfeeding, though a natural process, does not always come naturally; there are often many obstacles to overcome. Though there is certainly no lack of encouragement from the medical community; it seems that breastfeeding is to today, what formula was to the 1960’s and 70’s. Public perception still has a bit of catching up to do however. Case in point: perhaps you remember the minor media storm last year over a woman who was asked to leave a store in a Montreal mall, a children’s clothing store no less, because she was breastfeeding her 5 month old baby.  Shannon Smith, didn’t put up much of a protest at the time, but she later expressed her indignation online, garnering a lot of support from the local “lactivist” community.  Another Montreal mom decided to organize a nurse-in outside the store in question, to protest the employee’s action.  Over a hundred women, and babies, answered the call. 

A “nurse-in” is much like a sit-in, but with women and babies all breastfeeding simultaneously. Depending on how you look at it, a nurse-in can have a two-fold effect: to desensitize the public to the sight of breastfeeding and to educate people about a mother’s right to feed her baby wherever she chooses.

Here in Quebec City, for over ten years now, a group of public-breastfeeding advocates have been organizing nurse-ins dubbed the Défi Allaitement (Breastfeeding Challenge). On September 15th, lactating mothers and their babies are being requested at the Place Laurier mall, in an effort to help raise awareness about the issue of breastfeeding. This year’s edition of Défi Allaitement is aiming to recruit over 100 mothers and babies.

Registration is at 9:30 am, and the breastfeeding begins at 10 am.  Nursing consultants will also be on site to share their expertise. 

Most malls these days are equipped with designated breastfeeding rooms, conceived to give mothers a calm and private place to feed their babies. There are generally two schools of thought when it comes to breastfeeding in malls: those who breastfeed anywhere that it is necessary and those who prefer to seek out a breastfeeding room.  Though you don’t have to commit yourself to one or the other, some women are a little of both; depending on mood or circumstances. 

The major malls in the Quebec City area all boast at least one breastfeeding room.  Some have obviously been keenly designed with mother and baby in mind; others, however, are missing a few essential elements. The following link: Mall Breastfeeding Rooms in Quebec City is a Life in Quebec check list and review of five of the city’s malls; evaluating how their breastfeeding rooms stand up to a mother’s scrutiny.  

If you are a breastfeeding mom, especially one who is looking for a little camaraderie and support, here again is the information for the Défi Allaitement 2012: 

Location: third floor of Place Laurier (near Sports Experts)

930 AM: Registration
10 -11 AM: Breastfeeding challenge time!
11 AM – 12 noon: Café au Lait activity (lactating consultants will be on site to answer questions and offer support) 

There will be door prizes and family activities to enjoy.

To learn more visit:


About the author:

SARAH WILLIAMS is a mother of three young children, and a freelance writer.

Sarah had her first experience living in Quebec while earning her bachelor’s degree in Communications at Concordia University (MTL) in the late nineties.

Hailing from Cobourg, Ontario, Sarah moved to Quebec City in January of the year 2000. For her, this city is the perfect balance of the small town feel of her hometown in Ontario and the vibrant francophone culture of Montreal.

Professionally, Sarah has worked a fair bit in the media as a copywriter and researcher; for Global Television, and for a T.V. cooking show (what’s cooking).

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