Breastfeeding in Public Terrifies Too Many New Moms

Mom Moment 69

breastfeedingBy now everyone in America should know that it's legal to breastfeed in public (hey, I said should know -- I didn't say they do). But if you've ever wondered whether seeing moms nursing in public on the news all the time is actually doing anything good for women, how's this little tidbit? In a recent survey by Lansinoh, moms admitted their number one worry about breastfeeding their babies wasn't whether they'd produce enough milk or whether their bosses would be cool about setting up a pumping station.

Nope; turns out moms are far more terrified of having to actually nurse their babies in public! And really, can you blame them?

Not every woman actually wants to breastfeed in public. In fact, many of us would rather crawl under the couch than risk someone seeing the skin of our saggy mom bodies.

I say this as a woman who struggled with an eating disorder for years, as a woman who has never (and will never) worn a bikini in her life. I am not a skin shower. Even having my father-in-law at my house shortly after giving birth sent me into a panic. I would scoot immediately upstairs when my daughter got hungry. I was right there with the 40 percent of women scared of breastfeeding in public.

And you know what? It's OK that they're scared. Breastfeeding, breasts, bodies -- they're all very personal.

The problem is, nursing in public is the hot button issue these days. Every time I turn on the news, there's a nurse-in here, an outraged mom there. And I get it. We have the right to do it, but to paraphrase a certain comedian, we often don't have the ability because of backward thinking morons who can't separate breasts from sex.

I wouldn't suggest by any means that we stop the fight. But the rather large number of women who are scared makes me wonder if we do need to step back and re-evaluate how we fight the good fight.

Could it be that we're so vehement we're scaring women?

Maybe what we need to get out there is that breastfeeding in public is a right, but it's not a necessity. After all, if women are so scared of breastfeeding in public that they don't breastfeed at all, we haven't just lost a battle; we've lost the war!

Do you breastfeed in public or are you a little more shy?


Image via Daquella Manera/Flickr



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aeneva aeneva

I was very shy and worried about it at first, but after the first couple months and the struggle we went trhough I didn't care who saw me nursing because I had so many people watching me nurse for medical reasons that my shyness disappeared.  I do however completely understand that fear.  I carry little business cards that say a little way to go type of thing on them and when I see a mom nursing in public now I quietly slip one to her to show my support.  My children are no longer nursing, but I enjoyed that time and feel we need to normalize it by letting people see it.

Mom2f... Mom2fourlove

I nurse in public with a nursing cover. If someone ever told me to get out of a store I'd laugh in there face and tell them to call the cops

Melan... MelanieJK

If you're discreet about it,   a casual passerby catching a glimpse is not going to see a lot of skin so it's absurd to worry about what your body looks like doing it.     

I didn't have any problem doing it in public but I always tried to be as discreet as the situation allowed.    Try not to put people in a position where they feel like they have to watch or constantly look around to avoid watching.    If you're considerate of others they'll be more comfortable accepting that it's just a necessity sometimes.    

gem09... gem092011

In what ways do you suggest we "reevaluate" how we fight? I don't think I see anyone saying that it is "necessary" that everyone "must" NIP. No one I know is tearing off other mothers' shirts and forcing babies' faces to breasts in public parks or anything. ;) I think the constant mantra has been (and should continue to be) that those who wish to NIP should be able to so without restriction or judgment. Period. The more people who do so, the less taboo the simple act of feeding your baby in public the way nature intended it to be will become.

Qualifying "it's ok to NIP" immediately with "but don't worry, you don't have to" is unnecessary and counterproductive IMO. Moms know they don't "have" to NIP. What some are unclear on is whether they "can" or "should."

So yes. I NIP. While I not militant or flamboyant about it in any way, I am not going to go cower in a corner or smother my baby with a "hooter hider" because some close-minded people can't separate nourishing a child from a sexual act. I hope that my doing so will give another mom (particularly a first time mom) encouragement to do the same of she wishes.


I nurse in public when I need too. But I get really anxious and nervous. I've actually stayed inside my home way more with this baby than I did with my first born bc of the anxiety that comes with having to nurse in public. (I only pumped with my first) but I just assume that most people are uncomfortable with seeing a woman nursing so I try to be as discreet as possible. I turn away from everyone and keep a blanket and burp rag over us. Not over my daughters head but enough to where we are completely covered. If its a really busy place with lots of people I'll go to the car.

gem09... gem092011

Oh, and yes. I admit that I was definitely more nervous to NIP with my first baby. By the time you get to #3, those nerves are replaced by practicality and a need to do whatever it takes to make it through the day wrangling toddlers and babies. ;)

I LOVE this little video from Luvs. Hilarious and so true!!!!

nonmember avatar Amaryllis

Glad to never have seen a woman doing this. What's wrong with people? Stay home if you want to do that, or bring a bottle. No one wants to see your boobs.

jalaz77 jalaz77

Rarely. I was always prepared for our outings. I loved being home in a quiet environment, just my baby and me. I was never nervous but again was prepared. My kids were perfect BFing babies. I could time when they would want to nurse.

femal... femaleMIKE

I doubt I will bf in public.  Thats just me!  I have always been a private person.

Melan... MelanieJK

I saw one of those "What Would You Do" shows on this where they planted the breastfeeding lady right next to the line in a coffeeshop.     If you were standing in that line you stared right down at her.     It was a ridiculous set up.     You can argue that she shouldn't have to go to the dark corner but just a few tables back and away from the line would be more realistic,  there were lots of table available.     It wasn't testing tolerance it was testing people's reaction to someone who came across as being entertained by making people uncomfortable.   

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