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Breastfeeding Mum Suspended From Uni

A breastfeeding mum has been suspended from the University of Derby, after previously being told she could attend with her baby.

New mum Leah Foster, 35, is midway through her degree in psychology in the hope of working to improve the mental health of new parents in future. Her course tutor had initially agreed to her taking her baby boy in on a short-term basis but this was reneged upon. After a warning from university staff, Mrs Foster said she had no choice but to continue taking her son in, and was then suspended from lectures at the campus.

Her local MP has called upon the University of Derby, asking that they reconsider. However, university officials said it was a 'health and safety matter' and refused to change their decision. She has said that she consulted with her course tutor about taking her little boy, Emmett, with her to lectures and was told it would not be a problem. However, this turned out to not be the case.


Due to being a breastfeeding mother, Mrs Foster has told the press that she felt she had no option but to continue taking her baby in due to needing to be close by for feeds, but was suspended from her course two weeks ago.

She told the BBC: "I felt shock and disbelief. It felt so unfair that I am being discriminated against because I have had a baby but am trying to continue my studies. I understand that other people are paying to do their degree and the last thing they want is a crying baby in class. I would never, ever let him sit and cry or make noise or make it difficult to hear what the lecturer is saying."

In talks to find an amenable solution, the university suggested that deferring her course could be the best option, giving her a year with her baby and then allowing her to continue after, but Mrs Foster said this would delay her gaining employment in her chosen field and even potentially delaying her having another child.

Toby Perkins, MP for Chesterfield, has stated: "I think to say to someone like Leah 'You have to step away for a year, we can't accommodate you in any way' - despite how far she has gone out of her way to make sure she wasn't disruptive. I think it sends the wrong message and I am really disappointed that Derby University have taken this approach."

Leah will have more childcare options within a matter of months as she plans to eventually transition away from breastfeeding to allow her parents to look after Emmett. She told the BBC that she was concerned about missing out on her course studies, but wants to find a compromise to help herself and others in this situation.

When approached by the media, the University of Derby spokesperson said it did not comment on individual cases but added;

"We would not exclude a student because they wish to continue studying while breastfeeding or caring for children. We have many students who are combining studying with parenthood, and we support them in every way we can, including personal support plans tailored to the individual, as well as providing designated spaces for breastfeeding for those who would prefer to do so away from the more public areas on campus. However, babies and children cannot be brought into teaching sessions due to the potential risk of disruption to other students and to protect the health and safety of the parent, child and others."

News and image source - BBC

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