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Breastfeeding in Public Places

Updated on June 28, 2013

For women who are nursing, the art of breastfeeding in public is frought with anxiety, scrutiny, criticism, and isolation. More often than not, a woman chooses not to feed her baby in a public setting because of the risk of embarrassing others. It is the most natural thing in the world to feed a hungry baby, yet our over sexualized culture screams the message, "Breasts are not for feeding! They are for the pleasure of men's eyes only!" and suppresses a woman's instinct to instantly satisfy her baby, no matter where she is. It's high time this crazy mix up gets straightened out.

It is a woman's legal right to nurse wherever she is!

Breasts were designed for feeding babies. Yes of course there are other uses we are all familiar with, but their primary function is for nursing a baby. The world doesn't balk at a scantily-clad woman on the front of a magazine- airbrushed with perfect skin and cleavage. The marketing falsely advertises that women's breasts look a certain way and no one bats an eyelash (well, mostly no one- I do).

Since when have boobs been allowed everywhere but on a mom and in a baby's mouth? You are at a Super Bowl party and everyone is riveted to the screen during the commercials. Victoria Secret ad comes on and no one looks away embarrassed right? You sit on the couch to nurse and no one will sit next to you.

The discomfort people have with breasts have nothing to do with you or your baby. It is solely THEIR problem, not yours. It could be that they are uncomfortable with their own sexuality, or have removed sex and women's bodies so much from reproduction, that they can't imagine that the two are intricately linked. This frequently happens in male minds that are submerged in pornography. Women are objects to be lusted after. The whole concept of sex, babymaking, and reproduction is lost.

Breastfeeding in the news

In the recent news, articles have popped up about public breastfeeding- many of which are in favor of the mother. It's about time. You can check out these links below if you are feeling the need for encouragement or empowerment.

The L.A. Times Article: Breastfeeding Moms, Privacy in Public

Source

Time Magazine: Are you Mom Enough?

This article caused quite the stir with the public, as a woman is shown nursing her preschooler. This article doesn't necessarily just address the art of nursing in public places, but as you can see from the droves of media attention, people are still uncomfortable viewing a woman feeding her child with her breasts.

Staging a nurse - in

These women bonded together and proved a point outside a security office where a woman was told she must nurse outside. The message is clear: "Don't mess with my breasts!"

Napa Moms Recap Breastfeeding Right

Mother's Protest Colorado Water Park's Suggestion to Cover Up

Wear your powers!

Even if you are not actively nursing, you can show your support for the rights of mothers to nurse by wearing your beliefs. Tee-shirts from CafePress are made for both men and women. Feed the movement to remind America that breasts are for feeding, not just for ogling.

Phrases to practice when people comment, balk, or stare

Practice at home so you are ready for that rude waiter, security guard, or random shopper who feels it is their right to tell you how and when you should nurse your baby.

  • "I'm sorry, is this your first time seeing a boob?"
  • "Would you scrutinize me if I were giving him a bottle?"
  • "Stop taking out your issues with sexuality out on my baby."
  • "Get a good look now, because I'm sure you won't see any on the magazine rack you're about to pass by."
  • "Is it as good as the porn you watched yesterday? Probably not huh?"
  • "How would you like it if I told you to go eat outside because the way you eat is gross?"
  • "My boobs are allowed anywhere. Back off."

This tank has a double opening for discreet public nursing.
This tank has a double opening for discreet public nursing. | Source

Find clothes that help you feel confident

There are plenty of places that sell clothing and bras designed for a mother to easily nurse. Shirts with little peekaboo openings, bras with quick straps, nursing covers, and other items are available at places like Motherhood Maternity. Do not feel you need anything special to wear unless it makes you feel more comfortable.

If you are fine unhooking your shirt and baring the skin, you and your baby are entitled to do what is necessary to feed comfortably. Remember, you are the one who is in the throes of caring for a small child. What anybody else thinks is their issue, not yours. You have enough to worry about without being relegated to some stinky bathroom stall to nurse on the toilet.

Motherhood Maternity Nursing Wear

Take internal inventory

If you are unsure about nursing in public, take a good look at the reason why. For many women, it is an issue of modesty, and that is a perfectly acceptable reason to choose not to nurse. However, if you at all flinch at the notion because of the reactions of other people, encourage yourself to find places of support and empowerment, so you and your baby aren't put in the difficult position of not being able to nurse whenever the situation arises.

You are a superhero for growing a baby, birthing a baby, and nursing that baby. Wear it proudly!

Source

About the author

Julie DeNeen is a freelance writer and mom to three beautiful children. She nursed her first two children for one year each, and subsequently nursed her third for two years. Eden was born with a serious heart defect requiring surgery at 6 days old. Due to this illness, Eden and Julie had to learn the dance of breastfeeding when Eden was six weeks old. Julie advocates for breastfeeding women proudly by wearing her I MAKE MILK teeshirt whenever she can.

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    • lilmissfrugalista profile image

      Ma. Luisa Andrea G. Coloso 3 years ago from Davao city

      Interesting hub. :) I remembered going to a baptismal seminar wherein I was told I'm not allowed to breastfeed my child while the baptismal service is going on. She's more concerned about the priest touching my boobs than my baby going hungry for an hour.

      Sure, I could step out of the church if I want to breastfeed my baby, but I'd miss half of the baptismal ceremony if I did that.

    • profile image

      jusbeth16 4 years ago

      Great hub!

    • ahorseback profile image

      ahorseback 4 years ago

      Okay , Im just a guy right ? But hey , bare those breasts anywhere you want to ! Is it an offense to drool !

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 4 years ago from Florida

      Whose business is it when a Mother wants to nurse her baby in public??? No One's!

      Great Hub. I voted it UP, etc. and will share. Mary

    • JKenny profile image

      James Kenny 4 years ago from Birmingham, England

      Reading this hub reminded me of an incident at my work ( a garden centre). An elderly couple approached me at the checkout and told me that there was a woman walking around breastfeeding her baby. I remember looking surprised, but not out of the fact that a woman was breastfeeding, but more that somebody felt that they had to report it, like she was committing a crime. I waited till the couple disappeared before shaking my head at their ignorance and lack of understanding.

      Surely, its better that a baby be fed its natural diet rather than some processed stuff in a bottle. If people find breastfeeding in public uncomfortable then tough. When a baby is hungry, they need feeding no matter where they are.

      Okay rant over. Thanks for this Julie. Voted up and shared.

    • profile image

      KDuBarry03 4 years ago

      You have provided very good arguments for nursing (and great arguments to use when doing so!) I personally don't see anything wrong with nursing in public; how do people think babies were fed before formula? People need to get a grip, breastfeeding is a natural and healthy way to feed and take care of a child.

      Voted up and shared!

    • TToombs08 profile image

      Terrye Toombs 4 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

      Great job, Julie and you made some very good arguments for breast feeding. Nicely done.

    • Daniella Lopez profile image

      Danielle Lopez Newcomb 4 years ago from Arkansas

      Julie, you have a new fan. I absolutely loved this article. I bf my son whenever he is hungry and I refuse to do so in a public restroom. I have been given so many dirty glances and even mean comments, sadly mostly from relatives. My husband has really been the only solid support I have had through all of this. Thank you so much for being a good voice for breastfeeding mothers. Voted up. :)

    • LA Elsen profile image

      LA Elsen 4 years ago from Chicago, IL

      Totally agree with lord de cross that women should and are getting together. There will always be the ones who want to object for the sake of argument, but the issue is so primal. We cannot back down from this one. Society has to realize that breastfeeding is not a trend.

    • christin53 profile image

      Ann-Christin 4 years ago from UK

      I couldn't agree more breast feeding is the most natural thing in the world and everyone needs to accept this. Most women are very discreet in public you wouldn't even know what they were doing unless you look really closely.

    • supermom_in_ny profile image

      supermom_in_ny 4 years ago from NY

      Hate typos! Sorry. I'm using my iPad and this always happens. I meant to say, I chose not to breast feed in public. Just wanted to clear that up.

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Great topic for a hub! It is awful that there is such a stigma these days in this country about breastfeeding in public places. While women should use some basic discretion, it is completely out of line for people to make comments to breastfeeding women about their choices and actions.

    • supermom_in_ny profile image

      supermom_in_ny 4 years ago from NY

      I am a mother to 7 children. I breastfed my children, but chose not to do so . This was just my personal choice. I had friends that breastfed in public, that was their choice. everyone should be able to do what feels comfortable for them. Great hub. Voted up! ;)

    • lovelifehappiness profile image

      lovelifehappiness 4 years ago from Norman, OK

      I agree that there is a problem in this country. I have two kids (one is currently being breast fed and the other was breastfed for 20 months) and I am definitely shy when it comes to breastfeeding in public and sometimes even in front of people I know. I always stay covered up and that is what I feel comfortable with. And I am not saying that women should be walking around with their boobs hanging out dripping milk, but I am saying to those who have a problem with it. HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO EAT YOUR LUNCH IN THE BATHROOM!!!! Yes sometimes the only place I can sit down and feed is in the public toilet and it makes me so mad. Okay so you do not want people publicly in your store, that is fine and your choice, but please give us a chair or a nice comfy room to sit in. Even a chair in the bathroom would be better than sitting on the toilet.

    • Mama Kim 8 profile image

      Sasha Kim 4 years ago

      Excellent hub! I love the idea of nursing in public... but I'm just too shy :( I have nursed with a light blanket draped over a few times. Even that gets negative attention! some people are just ignorant!!!

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 4 years ago from Arizona

      Interesting hub here. Though I am way past the nursing stage in life, I really believe that nursing in public is no big deal. However, women should use some discretion. Baby is hungry so feed him (or her).

    • vespawoolf profile image

      vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

      This isn't even an issue in Peru. Babies are nursed anywhere and no one takes a second glance. In a culture where breastfeeding is accepted as a natural and necessary part of life, anyone who stares or complains has the problem, not the mother. Well written and helpful. Thanks!

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 4 years ago from San Francisco

      I hate when people complain about me breast feeding a baby in public. :))

    • Naomi Rose Welty profile image

      Naomi Rose Welty 4 years ago from Savannah, GA

      Bravo!

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 4 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      In many malls in the philippines there are breastfeeding stations where moms can go to feed their babies. There are many shirts and dresses specially designed for this purpose.

      It's nice of you to tackle this topic. I hope more moms breasfeed their babies.

    • CarlySullens profile image

      CarlySullens 4 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

      Great Hub Jules! Thanks for standing up and lifting up women's breasts to do what they have always meant to do.

    • Bethaleg profile image

      Bethaleg 4 years ago from Minnesota

      I nurse my baby when it's hungry, but there are definitely times when it is more comfortable having a private place to nurse. I have never balked when seeing a mom nurse her baby in public. You brought up some great points, and I love the poster! We can look at celeb magazines in the checkout line where they are wearing bikinis but moms can't feed their babies in public? Thank you for addressing this important issue.

    • Care Bear profile image

      Care Bear 4 years ago from Idaho

      YES! Women should be able to breastfeed anywhere without feeling weird or awkward about it. It's the healthiest way to feed a newborn baby, plus it's one of the best ways for a mother to bond with her baby. Thanks for your hub!

    • josh3418 profile image

      Joshua Zerbini 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Julie,

      You just made me Lol for real!!

      I will definitely defend my wife! People better watch out and stay clear! Because josh3418 has a mean side to him too! (I can't even type that with a serious face lol)

    • Julie DeNeen profile image
      Author

      Blurter of Indiscretions 4 years ago from Clinton CT

      @josh- you are brave! Following in Billy's footsteps..I commended him for commenting on a subject that men typically shy away from. You just wait! Someday you will be married and I can just see you as your wife's defender when she wants to nurse in public. That silly face you made in the peanut butter and jelly sandwich hub can turn mean and protective...I just know it! LOL

    • josh3418 profile image

      Joshua Zerbini 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Julie,

      I am not sure if this hub is geared towards guys...rofl! But, since I am a loyal fan I am going to be brave and leave a comment!

      Interesting information and your phrases to practice are way too hilarious!!! Thanks for the laugh on this one even if that was not really your intention.

      Have a great rest of the day and take care my hub friend!

    • Julie DeNeen profile image
      Author

      Blurter of Indiscretions 4 years ago from Clinton CT

      @billybuc- Oooh you just made my week! First of all, thanks for responding and commenting on a "woman's type hub"- only real men do that!! :) Secondly, a mention by Billybuc feels like I just got an autograph from a celebrity (doing the screaming like a tweener thing) lol...

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sorry I was so slow to get to this one; I saw it pop up and then got distracted and lost it. Good for you on this issue. This was so common during the 60's and early 70's and then something happened to society and it became uncouth to do so in public. Ridiculous if you ask me! Great hub Julie! Oh, by the way, you might want to make sure you read my hub on Wednesday. There is a very real possibility that you are mentioned in it.

    • Julie DeNeen profile image
      Author

      Blurter of Indiscretions 4 years ago from Clinton CT

      Thank you!

    • Lord De Cross profile image

      Joseph De Cross 4 years ago

      Women should get together on this one. The closeness of breastfeeding lasts a lifetime... and beyond. Interesting tips and well written!

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