To Breastfeed or Not to Breastfeed in Public, That is the Question

Today we are having a guest post on a subject close to my heart- Breastfeeding. I personally do breastfeed my children and still continue breastfeeding my 20 mth old girl in public with a nursing shawl.

Let’s read what Anne have to say about breastfeeding.

 

If you’re a one of those close-minded breastfeeding advocates who believe people should be free to feed their children anywhere, anytime, and in any way…

You’re NOT the audience I want, so scram.

Harsh?

I have to be, and I’ll tell you why.

I’m all for breastfeeding – I’m an advocate as well.

A lot of studies and articles about the benefits of breastmilk have passed my eyes so I’d be the first to say that if moms are able to give their babies this type of milk, even for a few months, go.

No one’s disputing the value of this super milk. Not to mention the mother-child bonding it fosters.

However, there is the issue of whether breastfeeding should be done in public or not – bare or covered.

Breastfeeding (www.pusteblumenbaby.de) © by Pusteblumenland

There are those who are adamant about moms having the choice to feed their babies anywhere, anytime and in any way. (Like I said above)

After all, they have to provide nutrition to their babies, and up to this point I agree.

I even respect their views.

But at the same time, they have to respect people who are uncomfortable at the sight of bare breasts.

Now, per se, there is nothing wrong with breasts. It’s a body part just the same as your hands and feet, But it’s a private body part.

Therefore, it makes me cringe when I see them out in public. And I’m not the only one.

Hold your horses…

I’m not saying that bare-breasted breastfeeding moms should have the discomfort of hiding in a corner while feeding just so folks like me can be comfortable.

Not at all.

But there are things such as covers.

Easy, right?

It only takes a few seconds to pack and unfold before using, then, re-fold and re-pack after using.

If you’re one of those folks who was told to scram earlier but didn’t…

We live in an age where people are dressed wherever they go. Therefore, private parts are meant to be kept, well.. private.

In one post which touched on this subject too, a lady commented that she felt as if some people wanted to force others to be okay with baring breasts while breastfeeding.

It’s just not the way society works – unless you’re part of a cultural minority that’s down with upper body nudity. No problem there.

But society isn’t.

So, here’s the thing:

For me, it’s okay to breastfeed in public – did so myself.

But please, cover up.

It’s really not difficult thing to do.

Got something on your mind? Leave a comment but remember to keep it clean! :)

Author bio: Anne Mercado is a writer who is fascinated with psychology and horror stories. Luckily, you won’t find the latter when she writes on her parenting blog, but she’s seriously considering sharing spooky tales in her personal blog. Who knows, maybe she will!

19 thoughts on “To Breastfeed or Not to Breastfeed in Public, That is the Question”

  1. I whole heartedly agree with this article. I do agree that breast milk can be best for the baby (unless the mother has a poor diet or isn’t able to for health reasons), but I also believe that this is something that this is something that should be done privately. I find it disrespectful and distasteful when a woman chooses not to cover up, especially when there’s a possibility that children might see.

    1. I think this is the issue of public breastfeeding: using a cover, but for some reason, other people feel like it’s about being against breastfeeding. This just isn’t true (speaking for myself)

  2. I totally agree, but I also, believe that other ladies should cover up, too. No one should hang out. I just read an article on modesty and men are uncomfortable with ladies hanging out, breast or midriff.

    1. Thanks Debbie! I read a post wherein the writer mentioned her husband was also uncomfortable when moms breastfeed without covers.

  3. I breastfed both of my boys. With the first, I wasn’t confident enough to feed in public. I either stayed at home or holed up in someone’s bedroom, a restroom, or fitting room. It was a hassle, and it was stressful trying to find a place to nurse him. The second time around I started out much the same way until I found myself in the handicapped stall of a McDonald’s bathroom with the woman next to me going #2 while loudly talking on her cell phone in Spanish, and another woman outside of my stall banging on the door and telling me I had to hurry up because it was the handicapped stall (although that is also where the changing table was). After that excruciating experience I vowed to never again put myself in that situation and began my NIP journey! (On a side note… how funny is it that the acronym for nursing in public is the very word that gets people up in arms over whether or not it should be done?!) I chose to cover myself. I didn’t have to buy anything special; I just used a hand crocheted baby blanket that was light enough to use in the summertime. I wouldn’t have been comfortable otherwise BUT…
    I do think that society has to realize that BFing mothers are not purposely exposing themselves to the people around them in a sexual way. And I don’t think it’s something we have to hide from our children. Of course, if a woman is sitting on a park bench with both breasts out and a baby only latched to one, that is gratuitous and unnecessary. But that’s not what we are seeing. What we are seeing is less breast than can be found on the beach on any given summer day. To ask these women to cover up additionally to avoid our own discomfort is unfair. It’s just as easy — no, easier– for us to turn our heads, instead of expecting them to struggle to keep a blanket covering themselves while they are also holding their babies, which, I know, can be difficult at times.

  4. You have a very good point in this post. Being able to provide nourishment when the baby needs it is one thing; to maintain decency and your face in public is another.

  5. I totally agree with Anne! I think it is a lot worst to be breastfeeding in public, in Singapore, baring breasts. Imagine the leery looks from the old men and the juvenile…having a breast to leer is better than none at all for them.

    I think moms should stop making a point by breastfeeding without a cover…respect yourself, your body and people around her.

  6. I breastfeed my kids in public, covering up with a nursing cover, that or I go to one of those nursing rooms provided in the malls or places I’m at. If there’s no nursing rooms, I use a nursing cover.

    In Malaysia, I think even wearing short skimpy skirts will results in leery looks and you definitely don’t want those kind of attention or looks from strangers, what more baring your breasts in public.

    My goal is to breastfeed my girl but still to maintain some kind of privacy to myself as well.

  7. I was 12 when my youngest sibling was born, and my mother was a ‘lactivist’, breaking out the boob whenever and wherever it suited her, and sometimes when it didn’t, but she always had to be proving her point. The result was12 years later, me not wanting to breastfeed my first born because it reminded me of how uncomfortable I was as a teen having my mom show her boobs off like she did.

    People who are out to purposely make others uncomfortable in some attempt to provoke change are hurting their cause more than helping IMO. So many young mothers think nursing, and nursing in public, means you have to be baring all, because that’s the story that the lactivists are putting out there. Instead of trying to force others to become comfortable with your bare body, how about you do everyone a favor and set the example to new moms to be and cover up! Nobody ever complains about covered breastfeeding. Ever.

  8. I also breastfeed anywhere with a cover! That’s the only request I got from my husband which is sound and understandable. I even use my cover even in a nursing station! I find it useful even now because my baby gets distracted easily, so using a cover helps in letting him focus :)

  9. I agree with the article. It is a discomfort for us dad’s as well when our wives have to breastfeed in public… we definitely support the need for our baby to be fed, the timing is something that just happens, and the wife needs to relieve the pain in the from feeling the need to “milk”. So it was always a bit of a stress making sure there weren’t curious eyes peering at my wife and child, I felt like the bouncer at a very exclusive club.

    So I definitely support being more discreet and covering up… but feel mom’s need to feed at any time any place and should not have to go to the restroom or anywhere gross or disgusting.

    Blanket and husband should be around as much as possible.

  10. Breastfeeding is a topic close to my heart too, and I do cover up when I nurse in public. That’s me. However, I also don’t really mind the other moms who choose to breastfeed without one. I don’t believe they’re being indiscreet or trying to make other people uncomfortable. I have a very good friend who breastfeeds without a cover, and I know for a fact that she does it because her child feeds better and is less stressed when there’s no cover. I don’t find her indiscreet either — she wears the proper clothing so that she doesn’t “bare all”, and she doesn’t sit in the middle of the mall too when she does it. I think that’s responsible of her too. I guess my only thought bubble is, breastfeeding is hard enough as it is public or private, cover or no cover and we moms do the best that we can. Ultimately, our kids come first – never mind what other people think or feel (I think that can also be said about everyone’s unique parenting styles!) And so for me, if you can manage to cover up, then thank you. If not, no harm no foul. :)

  11. I agree with Anne! :) May I add though, that one NEED NOT have a cover specifically for nursing? I\’ve seen women cover up with a hanky; a spare (clean) cloth diaper (lampin, we call it in the Philippines); a baby blanket; a jacket; a shawl; a kid\’s extra shirt — just about anything will do! (And believe me, I\’ve tried using all of the above!). I used to have a nursing cover (which I regret buying because it was so \”unfashionable\” and expensive!) but gave it away when my little girl was a toddler already. (She still nurses though, and will be 3 in July!). If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn\’t have bought the nursing cover and would have convinced people to just give one to me (there are SO MANY fabulous, fashionable choices now!). :) LOL!

  12. Anne, you write well. Love it! :)

    I agree. I have a hard time breastfeeding now out in public, because my son rips the cover off, so we don’t use one. But I do EVERYTHING in my power to be modest. I will have a little jacket, or I’ll use my husband as a body guard. haha ;) We normally will go back to the car. I feel funny and I am sure others do too, when I breastfeed my 19 month old. It’s not really normal in the US.

    Those that are “I can breastfeed” anywhere, tend to have an attitude. And with that, I would ask, why have an attitude? Have a point to prove? To whom? And why?

    Because many mothers just breastfeed their children, it’s not like we have to prove a point. We just do it, and are kind to those around us.

  13. I find it sad that in this day and age, the primary purpose of a woman’s breast has to take second stage to society’s hang-ups about it. That said this is the world we live in.

    I think there are those who are so upset by the current state of breastfeeding, that they go to extremes to change this. The problem is that this has the opposite effect, as people feel that they are having their values thrown in their face, and they dug in saying “I don’t want that flaunted”. I think the key is how discreet the person is being. As Mommyology said, there are children who do not take well t having a cover to feeding. My Samantha found it hard, though I generally used one anyway. I also had to use a nipple guard the entire time I was nursing, which further complicated things in public. This meant that even when I had a cover, there were cases where I unintentionally flashed others. It might have been more discreet if I had not used a cover (I always tried to get out of the public view as best I could – choosing the back corner of a room or walking off to where I thought most people were not anyway), but I was just not comfortable with it.

    I think at that point it is a matter of how the mommy is dressed – a shirt plus undershirt so one can be pulled up while the other can be pulled down, gives the most cover without actually covering the baby. I’ve seen this around where I live. For mother’s day at the zoo – I walked on a little dead in path to look at some birds. When I turned to go back, I noted that a mother was feeding her baby with no cover – back to most people. I could not see anything except for cloths and the baby’s head, and her other childer and husband were on the other side of her, waiting for her to finish. 99% of the people did not come up the path, and my husband had no idea. I did not feel the need to tell him.

    So while I agree with your sentiment Anne, I think there is more than one way to be discreet. I wish I had been comfortable trying to be discreet without a cover, as I feel that would have been easier on both me and my daughter while reducing the chances of accidental exposure. But I was just never brave enough.

  14. Anne, I agree! Recently I wrote this post about breastfeeding in a movie theater: http://www.stealingfaith.com/2012/05/19/say-that-one-more-time/ The crazy thing is the guy who was so offended was with a gal you was exposing more than the nursing mother!

    However, I have a friend who doesn’t cover up at all. Even though we go way back and I was present for her births… I wish she’d cover up when she’s nursing. I just don’t want to see her boobies. I guess it’s a double standard, but for what it’s worth, I think you can be discreet while also feeding in public.

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