Moms Breastfeeding In Public Need to Be Respected NOW


mom breastfeeding in publicWe live in a society where cleavage is everywhere, women get breast implants to make that cleavage even bigger, and we often know what kind of underwear a woman is wearing (if any at all) because of the shortness of her skirt. I have no problem with any of these things, mind you (though if my daughter someday wants to get implants I will work every kind of magic so she doesn't). But I do take issue with people who feel that women who breastfeed in public are doing something obscene.

Since when is feeding a baby an X-rated act? Sadly, since way too many people in our society consider breasts to be sexual objects and sexual objects only.

Thankfully there are women who stand up for a baby's right to eat whenever and wherever that baby is hungry. I'm sure babies would be rallying themselves except they can't so moms have to be their advocate for their right to eat. Currently there is a nurse-in at Target stores in 35 states after one mom said she was told not to breastfeed in the store.

Target released a statement on the matter saying they support breastfeeding in their stores in both the public areas and the fitting rooms, and they are sorry for the inconvenience the mother experienced. They went on to say they were proud to "support all mothers who breastfeed year-round, including today."

I don't think this is Target's fault, but maybe a worker who clearly didn't know any better. I'm not sure if stores have it in their employee handbook that if they see a nursing mother to just go about your business. Really, why should they? It's the most natural act. It's like pointing out the obvious: If you have a customer asking you where the fitting room is, direct them to the fitting room. If a baby is hungry and eating, let that baby eat.

But just about every breastfeeding mom knows, we are discriminated against. We do get startled looks and disapproving glares when we nurse our babies in a public place. I experienced it myself when I nursed my kids in public. Even with a nursing cover, I felt judged, like I was doing something wrong. Fifty-seven percent of Americans think women shouldn't nurse in public. Instead we should be banished to dirty public bathrooms or let baby go hungry until we get home. These same people must also believe a woman should just cancel her life when she is nursing and stay home without any visitors so no one will ever see a child at her breast. They also must not take any issue with other things that are way more "obscene" than breastfeeding, like littering or spitting in a park.

I think it's the backward thinking of people still brainwashed that formula is better than breast milk that makes nursing in public something people consider taboo. Babies get bottles -- that's what ingrained in our minds so seeing anything else seems wrong. Which is exactly why I love the breastfeeding doll. I'm not saying there is anything wrong with formula feeding -- there is not. I'm just saying that breastfeeding moms need to be respected now. Babies need this respect. We are loud and activisty because we have to be, because we are disrespected, and that's wrong. We just want to feed our babies. We aren't flashing our breasts or showing off our cleavage. We are feeding our babies. And while so many people claim that breastfeeding is showing off the breast or a nipple and that makes it sexual, then why is it okay for a woman who is not breastfeeding to wear a tiny triangle bikini top on the beach or a low cut shirt without a bra in the supermarket? That's sexual.

The discrimination really doesn't make much sense when you think about it. But most discrimination doesn't. This is why we have nurse-ins. This is why we all should accept that breastfeeding isn't obscene. But if your mind is troubled and you think that it is, you have this amazing power to just look away so a baby can be fed without mom feeling bad about it.

Do you breastfeed your baby in public? Do you take issue if you see a woman nursing in public?


Image via Bryce Edwards/Flickr

breastfeeding, natural parenting


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nonmember avatar Cococandy34

I am sorry, but you don't know how many times I have been out in public and have seen a mother breast feeding. That's not the problem. The problem is the teen boy across the room staring. It is not the mothers fault, I would rather her feed the kid then deal with baby screaming, but as a woman it bothers me to see the reaction the boys have to this natural thing. Also, I disagree with the stupid nurse-in things. I think they are kind of ridiculous. When a woman is nursing in public, the people around notice and quickly look away. Why? Because its a private thing and it makes onlookers uncomfortable. So sometimes these articles are basically saying "I don't care if your uncomfortable or if that pack of teen boys in staring, my baby is hungry!" is it that hard to pump at home and bring the bottle of your milk along?

Stacey. Stacey.

Nurse ins dont change peoples opinions and only make bfing mothers seem overbearing and ridiculous. They teach nothing to people who dont respect them, but instead they give more people the power to disrespect you knowing how much you take it to heart.

There was recently a place that stopped a nurse in (believe it was a mall) since it was private property. I thoght it was hilarious when i read about it on New York Daily News. if you want to make a point becasue you were wronged by a business then sue them. I think only nursing moms pay attn. to nurse ins as I am sure other people and businesses dont much care.

jpfsmom jpfsmom

I agree nurse in's are obnoxious and counterproductive (including the Target one) I support bf'ing in public provided the mom doing it isn't plopped down in the middle of the aisle as it has rumored this particular mom at Target was. Yes, bf in public but use some common sense and simple safety precautions.

nonmember avatar Shelly

Your ridiculous article is exactly why I choose not to associate with most breastfeeders. The term "breastfeeding nazi" came about for a reason. No one likes a brow beater.

Stacey. Stacey.

Also its called pumping that takes care of nurisng in a bathroom and the "glares" lol. Dont complain when theres an easy fix. You cant change millions of people but you can change you. Either deal with people disrespecting you and ignore it, or if it bothers you SO much try something else!

And lastly showing cleavage is not the same as showing a nipple. Thats like saying wearing tight pants is the same as showing your naked booty. ITS NOT

nonmember avatar Ann

Coco, pumped milk should only be used when a nursing mom can't be with her baby. She would still have to pump while the baby is taking the bottle in order to keep her milk supply up to the baby's needs. Plus, many babies refuse a bottle from their mothers. My son would only take a bottle of my milk from my husband if I was out of the house, and even then he had to be absolutely starving to not try to hold out for my return.
As for teenage boys snickering, I think it's good for them to see women use their breasts as nature intended and not just as sexual objects. I was at the big 50th anniversary La Leche League conference a few years ago and some of the leaders' teenagers were helping out in the kids' activity room and other events during the weekend. The boys who grew up around nursing as completely normal didn't bat an eye at the hundreds of nursing moms and were some of the most polite, respectful teenagers I have ever encountered.

nonmember avatar jice

Stacey you do realize that not every nursing mother owns a pump, or even can pump. It's not as easy as it sounds. It would take me 3-4 days of waking up at 4am to pump 4 oz for my first and I decided it wasn't worth it and that my babies would get it straight from the source. Plus there are a lot of women who don't believe in offering their children artificial nipples including bottles and pacifiers, and I believe they have that right to choose that for their children on not be shunned out of public because of it.

Twigmas Twigmas

My first baby would not take a bottle. Ever. So there isn't always "an easy fix."

mande... manderspanders

But pumping isn't an "easy" fix. Pumps are not as efficient at sucking as a nursing baby.And there's the whole mess with storage, transporting, etc.

I agree the nurse-in's don't accomplish much; and that bf mothers need to have common sense and respect for others in their surroundings too.  BUT there is otherwise nothing wrong with nursing in public. For the accomplished breast feeder, it is easy and serves multiple purposes (feeding, comforting, helps baby sleep). There isn't anything unnatural, "wrong", or immoral. There wouldn't be a need for nurse-in's if people minded their own business.

Cococandy: boys/men will always have wondering eyes; it is the parents responsibility to teach their boys manners and not to gawk (AT ANYONE).

Stacey: I feel sorry for you and your hatred.

nonmember avatar Michelle

1. Why is caring for a baby a "private" matter? That has zero logic behind it.

2. I have *never* seen a teenaged boy staring at a nursing mother. Ever. In my many many years as a nursing mother and just generally aware human this has never been something I have seen or any friends of mine have seen. If my sons grow up to view mothers that way I'd consider myself a failure as a parent and have them in therapy pronto. That is sick behavior. There is nothing sexual about babies eating.

3. People are uncomfortable with nursing because women sense this and hide. Because its not often done in public it's not accepted as normal. This is not an issue with the mother OR the baby. This is YOUR issue as the one who feels uncomfortable.

4. Exactly how is a mother supposed to produce future milk? If I feed my baby at 10 and then have lunch out at noon, where is the milk for the noon feeding supposed to come from? I can't pump it earlier because I have to actually feed the child in question. Anyone who suggests "just pump" never successfully nursed a baby. That just a lack of familiarity speaking.

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