Mothers challenge taboo at 'Big Breastfeed' demo

Updated: 2006-10-23 16:18

PARIS - One hundred young mothers gathered to breastfeed their babies in central Paris afternoon to campaign against the taboo on nursing in public.

"There are lots of prejudices against breastfeeding, especially in professional environments," said Marie-France Astoin, coordinator for the Big Breastfeed demonstration outside Paris's Sainte Eustache church, one of several taking place simultaneously in France's major cities.

Mothers breastfeed their babies in Paris during a gathering to show that breasfeeding still exist in France. [AFP]
Astoin decried France's level of breastfeeding, which at around 50 percent, is the lowest in Europe.

During the World Health Organisation's International Breastfeeding Week, the UN body and partner organisations are trying to promote mother's milk as a newborn's best defence against diarrhoea and respiratory infection.

"It's not at all a new feminist fight," said Monica, mother of Raphael.

"Nothing beats a mother's milk, it's natural, so why give something artificial in its place?"

Nearby, a young father ambled past wearing a placard marked "breast is best".

The Big Breastfeed movement kicked off in Manilla, the Philippines, six months ago, where Unicef gathered 5,000 mothers with their babies in an attempt to beat the world record for simultaneous nursing.

"The photo of this gathering has travelled around the world and a young woman from (the southern French port city) Marseille, Perle Hugot, decided to do the same thing here," said Astoin.