Ask five different people their thoughts on breastfeeding in public, and you’ll probably get five different answers. It seems everyone has an opinion on the subject, regardless of whether or not they’re a mother themselves. Some people see the act as indecent, while others view it as a normal aspect of motherhood. The latter camp tends to be filled with moms who have been through the struggle of fussy babies and achy breasts.
In fact, many of these mothers simply refuse to be shamed by people who would call them indecent for breastfeeding in public. Some even go to extreme lengths to assert their rights. Take 28-year-old Tolu who was nursing her two-month infant without a cover while accompanying a friend at an office. A manager approached her and asked her to cover up.
“No, but I have a muslin if you would like to cover your face,” Tolu responded, The situation didn’t end there, however, and the manager asked her to leave. In response, Lane, whose husband is in the army, came later to pick her up.
Tolu isn’t the only woman who’s had to remind a stranger of breastfeeding laws. As more and more women confront shamers and share their public breastfeeding stories on social media and news outlets, one has to wonder why the concept still strikes so much controversy.
Why does this still cause so much controversy?Why do some people object to breastfeeding in public?
Some people believe seeing a breast in any context counts as indecent exposure. However, some public breastfeeding advocates counter by saying the true issue is the sexualization of women’s breasts. In their opinion, people who criticize public breastfeeding are really reacting to the idea of a body part typically portrayed in a sexual manner being used in a nonsexual way.
It’s hard to determine whether or not this is true without surveying every individual against public breast feeding. That said, the fact of the matter is more and more women are choosing to breastfeed their infants wherever they are. Almost every news story about a mother being shamed for breastfeeding creates a public outcry, and more women are sharing their stories on Instagram and Facebook. Social media websites still ask users to censor exposed nipples no matter what the context, and many mothers who shared pictures of themselves nursing have had their images taken down for violating terms of service. But they continue to protest in the hopes that attitudes towards public breastfeeding will grow more progressive.
Breastfeeding is a private choice for every mother. Some feel completely comfortable feeding their child in public while exposed; others would rather use a nursing cover and some prefer to find a private area.
For mums who do want to breastfeed in public, here are a few tips:
While overall attitudes are changing, breastfeeding in public is still controversial in some people’s eyes. That said, these opinions shouldn’t have any effect on a mother’s decision. Legally, most states allow women to nurse in public, and many places are creating designated areas for women to nurse or pump. Who knows – maybe soon every public space will accept the idea of public breastfeeding as perfectly normal.
Do you breastfeed in public?