If you spot a breastfeeding woman in Timmins, Ont., and feel like you have something to say to her, your comments may fall on deaf ears.

A local health unit is planning to put life-sized cut-outs of women nursing babies in public places like restaurants, businesses, and government buildings. The health professionals behind the project say they hope the displays will help quash lingering stigma around breastfeeding in public.

Laurissa Crocetti and her 9-month-old child posed for one of the four cut-outs unveiled by the Porcupine Health Unit on Wednesday.

“It's kind of awkward, but at the same time amazing,” she told CTV Northern Ontario. “I never thought I'd see a life-size cut-out of myself.”

Public health nurse Meagan Potvin said the cut-outs are a reminder that breastfeeding is healthy and natural, and that women should not be discouraged from exercising their right to do it in public places. She said scrutiny from the public is among the reasons many mothers stop after a few months.

“It definitely is a jumble of things. One of them is possible fear of discrimination or being asked to cover up if (they are) having to nurse in public,” she said.

Officials also note that more public support is needed to encourage women to breastfeed children beyond six months.

Ashley Allen has breastfed four children over the last nine years. She said she has never received any negative feedback for doing it in public.

“I'm very open with it. When my kids are hungry, I just feed them. That's just the way things are now. I think this is great,” she said.

The plan is to eventually move the cut-outs to smaller towns in the region, where officials say there is less open discussion about women’s rights to breastfeed publically.

With a report from CTV Northern Ontario’s Lydia Chubak