Breastfeeding in public is a hot topic that seems to push buttons on both sides of the debate. Some would say it’s even hotter than the breastfeeding versus formula-feeding war! Apparently in Greece, it’s such a hot topic that they have an entire day dedicated to breastfeeding in public!
The big question is, which side of the debate is right? Is it just a natural act of feeding your baby or something indecent that others should be shielded from seeing? Let’s take a look at both sides of the argument, then I’ll give you my opinion!
Breastfeeding in public is natural, get over it!
Those in favor of allowing breastfeeding in public say feeding your baby is about as natural as it gets, so if you have a problem with it, just look elsewhere! No one is forcing you to stare, are they? The majority of women I know who breastfeed in public always cover themselves. It’s not like their breasts are just dangling out there for the whole world to see. Yes, occasionally things slip and a little something peeks out, but it’s not intentional. Very few women think to themselves, “hey, I really want strangers gaping at my bare breasts while I feed my baby, so I’ll make sure to expose myself for them!”
Here’s the thing: babies need to eat. A lot. Everyone from your grandmother to the government touts the benefits of breastfeeding, yet when a woman tries to do it in public, she’s subject to nasty looks. No one looks at women funny if they bottle-feed their baby in public, right? If a family is out and about, chances are the baby is going to need to eat. Should mom tuck herself away in an unsanitary bathroom? Do you like to eat your food in the bathroom? I won’t even take my sealed beverage in with me, the thought grosses me out so much!
Breastfeeding in public is disgusting, ban it!
On the opposite end of the debate are those who find breastfeeding in public an act of indecency. I think it’s fairly obvious where my opinion lies, so I’m trying really hard to come up with something balanced to say for the opposition. Some feel that breastfeeding is a private act and should be done where prying eyes can’t watch. Others feel that it is unsanitary, that breasts should stay tucked neatly away along with the milk they carry, especially at restaurants. Some just feel that it is offensive and really don’t give any reason for why they feel that way.
Then there are the more rational naysayers- the ones who really don’t have an overall issue with public breastfeeding but do feel it doesn’t belong in certain places. For example, should women breastfeed in the middle of a business meeting? That’s incredibly distracting, simply because babies make noise. Babies really don’t belong in the boardroom. What about breastfeeding in a swimming pool? Not next to it, but actually in the pool. Food isn’t allowed in most pools, so that’s a valid argument.
Everyone is entitled to an opinion. I didn’t breastfeed my son. I took a lot of flak for that and because of the nasty comments I received (including a horrible woman who flat-out told me my baby would probably die of a horrible plague because I was using formula instead of breast milk and robbing him of antibodies), I am actually very passionate about letting women know it’s okay to choose to formula feed, that it is nothing to be ashamed of.
Still, I think women who choose to breastfeed should be allowed to feed their babies anywhere that it is logical for others to eat. Restaurants, park benches, the bus (if the bus allows food). In places where food isn’t permitted, such as in the middle of an office meeting or while sitting in a swimming pool, it’s fair to ask them to move to another location. Bottom line: if it’s okay to bottle feed in a particular location, it should be okay to breastfeed. By the way, there are no laws against breastfeeding in public! Check out womenshealth.gov for more information about your rights.
We’d love to hear what you think about breastfeeding in public! Should moms be able to do it wherever and whenever they want? Should there be some restrictions? Or should it be banned entirely.