All of the problems with breastfeeding in public can be summed up to one word: discomfort. Discomfort in the physical sense is obvious, but the mental discomfort brought on by wandering eyes and potential judgmental gazes can be just as prevalent. Not to mention that public spaces currently dedicated to breastfeeding... well, there are none that we're aware of besides public restrooms. Whether you believe breast feeding should be done in private or anywhere a mother chooses, one thing for certain is that the all around comfort levels during this process need to improve.
All photos in this article are by Marija Gašparovic
heer is a bench that aims to please everyone when it comes to the still controversial act of breastfeeding in public, lying somewhere between secluded and out in the open. The rotating chair at the end of the bench allows for a discreet space when desired, but also for a more social option if the mother has company or even if they feel completely comfortable breastfeeding with no barrier. The swivel chair also gently rocks, helping to calm and relax the baby.
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heer's concept was designed by Prague-based design studio 52hours, who then collaborated with Belgrade-based industrial designer Nikola Knezevic to bring the physical product to life.
"The idea occurred spontaneously when we witnessed shaming of a young mum for breastfeeding in public place. At that moment we thought, 'Let's make a breastfeeding bench.' After a brief research on blogs, forums and Facebook groups we quickly realized that for a variety of social, cultural and health-related reasons a lot of women have negative experiences. It was also clear that the problem is not only ideological, but more importantly a practical one. And while some attempts to address this issue exist, none of them seemed nearly adequate. Simply put, urban public spaces still lack infrastructure that is adapted to the needs of mothers with little babies." —52Hours Designers Ivana Preiss and Filip Vasic
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Ivana Preiss and Filip Vasic of 52Hours envision heer playing a successful role in making public breastfeeding more comfortable in almost any public space, including airports, shopping centers, public transportation terminals and parks. The bench was unveiled to the public as part of 100% Design at this year's London Design Festival, but if you'd like to see one in your city, heer's website gives you the option to request one in your neck of the woods.