Breastfeeding in Public: Is it Indecent or Natural?

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!

breastfeeding-in-public-debate

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.

 

15 thoughts on “Breastfeeding in Public: Is it Indecent or Natural?”

  1. I breastfed both of my babies over 30 years ago and when I was in a public place I had a baby blanket for privacy. I am in the camp that says if I don’t show my breasts to the public when not breastfeeding why would I when I am?

  2. I have no problem nursing in public or seeing another mommy nurse in public. Baby has to eat. Plain and simple. There is nothing indecent about a mother nursing her child.

  3. I have 3 kids -with the 1st, I was too shy to even feed him when guests were around and hid in the bedroom. Then at 6 month, he refused nursing took a bottle with breastmilk or formula, so it wasn’t an issue. With the 2nd who refused bottles it became a necessity to nurse in public or where I could entertain and view my toddler. I wore clothes that I could lift from the bottom to minimize showing skin and carried a blanket to help block viewing also. With the 3rd I did the same, but he would take a bottle so I didn’t have to as often.

  4. Discretion is good, but breastfeeding is natural and not only nutritionally healthy for the baby, but it’s emotionally healthy for both mom and baby! Obviously the ta-tas shouldn’t be out for all to see, but there’s nothing wrong with breastfeeding in public places where food would normally be allowed. Great post!

  5. As long as there’s no law keeping us from bf in public I’m ok with doing what I’m comfortable with. I’m not comfortable exposing myself, it’s not about being ashamed – simply don’t want to show my boobs to everyone. I’m one of those moms proud to bf but will go to private place and cover up because I want to. I wouldn’t show my boobs without baby, so I won’t with baby as well.

    Exclusively breastfed 1st baby til 2 1/2 years. Now doing the same with 11 month old.

    1. I think it really is a matter of personal comfort and preference. If you prefer to do it in private, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that either. As long as you have the right to do it in public should you need to. 🙂

  6. I do think there should be a modicum of discretion when breastfeeding in public. With that said, I can’t believe in this day and age the fact that it is done in public places makes some people speak out against it, cause that’s what they are there for! I looked into buying breast milk from a milk bank when I adopted my son, it is the healthiest way to go, what other information does anyone need!
    mitch

    1. Isn’t it crazy that this is still such a subject of hot debate? You’d think we would have come a lot further over the years to where it’s not even an issue. Sometimes it feels like we’re still a bit stuck in the dark ages!

  7. There is definitely nothing wrong with it but I do believe in coexisting nicely. Use a nice nursing cover. I never breastfed in public but that was a personal choice and it just never was necessary. My car or a bathroom was always nearby. You’re right about certain locations or situations maybe not being appropriate… We should all use our best judgement and try to coexist.

    1. If only everyone could find a way to coexist, the world would be a much more peaceful place. 🙂 I think most women are pretty discreet about it. Especially now that they have all those fancy trendy nursing covers.

  8. I see nothing wrong with it. I never did it, I’m real shy and only did it at home in my car. I think adults have more of a problem with it than children do. My daughter saw a mom BFing in public and she pointed and said “that mommy is feeding her baby.” Great post.

    1. Thank you! I’m pretty shy too, so if I had breastfed, I probably would have done it in a private place. To me, it’s a matter of having a right to do something, even if I never actually use that right. Does that make sense? You’re absolutely right, though, it’s definitely the adults who freak out about it more. Kids are so much more easy going!

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