Mums share experiences of taking breastfed babies to live gigs after Arj Barker incident

Mums share experiences of taking breastfed babies to live gigs after Arj Barker incident
  • PublishedApril 25, 2024

There is heated debate online about whether Arj Barker did the right thing by asking a breastfeeding mother to leave his show over the weekend.

Barker has since said he had nothing against breastfeeding, rather that it was about the baby making noise.

The mother, Trish Faranda, said the baby was just “gurgling” during the show, and that she felt “humiliated” when asked to leave.

Breastfeeding advocates have responded, making the point that breastfed babies often need to be with their mother.

“If a baby has been exclusively breastfed at the breast, other options such as expressing may not be either a suitable option or a mother’s choice,” says Emily Carrolan, manager of Breastfeeding Friendly Australia, an Australian Breastfeeding Association initiative.

We spoke to mothers to hear about their experiences of taking their breastfed babies to live gigs such as the theatre and concerts, including one who welcomes babies at shows of her own.

‘It makes me feel good to see babies at my shows’

Melody Moko, 34, Gold Coast

Melody breastfeeding one of her children
Melody has taken her breastfeed babies to live acts, and performed with babies in the audience.(Supplied)

I have been the breastfeeding mother at a gig, and [when performing as a musician] I’ve definitely had people in the audience breastfeed.

I have breastfed backstage. I have seen other musicians breastfeed on stage.

I’ve actually found the response from the public to Arj Barker’s show quite shocking. That a mother, who needs to have her breastfeeding baby with her, is entitled.

I don’t understand why people think she should be limiting herself because she’s a mother.

It’s important she finds some time and space that makes her feel like herself again.

It makes me feel good to see women with their babies at my shows. That’s why this has been so shocking to me.

I thought we had moved past this being an issue.

I find children, in general, less disruptive than a drunk patron, for example.

‘I’m glad I took her’

Amber, 34, Perth (member of Breastfeeding Advocacy Australia’s Facebook group)

I went to a musical with my breastfed baby.

I checked with the theatre beforehand and was told babies in arms was fine. No ticket needed.

The lady next to me only realised I had her when we went to leave.

And yes, she was awake for a good chunk.

One slight grizzle then onto boob and fine again.

I think one of the ushers noticed too and was only helpful about it all.

I’m glad I took her as I would have never left the house otherwise!

I think people are mostly so uneducated about breastfeeding and the reality is that they don’t understand what comments like “stay home to feed” or “leave baby with someone else”, actually mean for mums.

‘We got so much love from the people sitting close’

Mandy, 38, Brisbane

I took my mum and three-month-old baby to the Pink concert at the Gold Coast for [Mum’s] birthday.

I managed to snag tickets at the last minute, and as my baby wouldn’t take a bottle, I had no other option but to bring him along with noise-cancelling ear muffs.

I was incredibly nervous about bringing him in case he was disruptive to the people around us, and was fully prepared to take him out if he got upset.

My experience was the exact opposite — we got so much love from all the people sitting close to us, and my baby was an absolute angel who breastfed, then slept through the whole concert.

It was a joyful experience made even better by having him there.

‘Disappointing, but fair enough’

Cate Grant, 53, Tasmania

I breastfed my five kids anywhere and everywhere … while doing the supermarket shopping, in restaurants, cafes, public transport — all over.

I took them to festivals and concerts.

The only time I was asked to leave a venue was when one of my children was six weeks old and we took them to a gig at the casino.

It was classified as an over-18s event (I didn’t realise).

But he was asleep on me, had earphones, and I would have fed him back to sleep if he had woken, or left if he had shown signs of being discontent.

Other people in the audience were upset on my behalf, saying he was not disturbing them at all.

Point was, it was a licensed venue and bub was under 18, so we were asked to leave by a security guard.

Disappointing, but fair enough.


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