Nursing in Public

Monday, January 18, 2016

The discussion around breastfeeding in public is making the rounds again in social media thanks to some social experiment videos made by Joey Salads. I'm not linking to them because he doesn't deserve the page views. In the videos, a mother is shown breastfeeding her baby and the reactions to those around her are documented. Most of the reactions are negative. I'm upset because these videos are super staged and I'm convinced all the negative reactors are actors as well. These videos are only discouraging new mothers from doing what is natural and necessary for themselves and their babies.

I felt motivated to write this post to those new mothers who see these videos and reconsider breastfeeding in public. A poll on a local mom forum asking about this issue quickly collected more than 60 responses with the vast majority saying they had never had such an encounter. There have been documented cases in Utah where mothers were asked to leave a public place to breastfeed privately but these are the minority. And usually the employee requesting was out of line and the store/venue/whatever later apologized. But these cases usually do not involve the blatant rudeness and harassment acted out in these videos.

I've had nothing but positive experiences when breastfeeding in public with or without a cover. And I support moms who breastfeed either way. But the more new mothers see breastfeeding uncovered, the more comfortable they will feel in doing so and the more they will know about breastfeeding! These are nothing but good things. Any nay-sayers can look away. And if anyone is worried about seeing a bit of boob then they should never go to a mall or turn on the TV! The primary function of breasts is to nourish and sustain the life of children. Our society is the first in history to have sexualized the breast so much that its primary function is so often disregarded. Is it any wonder that breastfeeding rates are as low as they are in the U.S.?

Everyone can help change this by simply not reacting to a woman feeding her baby. Nurse on mamas! You are life-givers!

**Edited to add some of my favorite commentary on the subject:
4 Reasons Why Women Should Never Breastfeed in Public (satire, of course)
10 Things That Have Nothing to Do With Why I Breastfeed
Just because a body part is at some moments in time sexual, does not make it sexual at ANY GIVEN MOMENT.
Why I'm Glad Someone Told Me to Stop Breastfeeding in Public
Breastfeeding in public, a man's perspective. Disclaimer: He is crass, but his point is spot-on!

***3/28/17 update: I recently wrote about this topic for the Lactation Link blog.


  1. Yes, I agree. Super staged, never with the four babies I breastfed was I treated this way. However, with that being said I do feel that in some cases breastfeeding mothers expose their breast as if they are daring someone to say something. I usually wore an undershirt and lifted the top shirt up so it did not expose my entire breast or I lifted my shirt up and my baby covered most of my abdomen. I personally feel there is no need to expose the breast for ANY reason sexual or natural. Either way it is distracting. But that's just me.
    As far as seeing exposed breastfeeding motivating me to breastfeed, that wasn't the case. If I had seen that over and over, I think it would have led me to believe that I had to expose my breast to feed properly would have given me second thoughts. While I acknowledge that different things motivate different people, what motivated me was the nutritional benefits, convenience, and bonding experiences breastfeeding offers, in other words education. To me, that is what is preventing many from breastfeeding, sheer ignorance. Good post, glad you are blogging again! :)

  2. I like the two shirt method too Mandi! Covers the top of my breast and my tank covers my belly. Breastfeeding like this without a big cape/ cover shows other women that feeding a baby is important no matter where you are and how to position a baby. This is something other cultures do well. Perhaps we wouldn't need books and classes and breastfeeding how-to videos if more breastfeeding wasn't behind a cape/cover. But I want all women to feel comfortable BFing and if you need a cover, go for it!! And I agree with you, with a little planning, we don't have to completely expose ourselves to feed! I'm so glad you found various things that motivated you because your example was certainly one of my big motivators!

  3. Yes, the capes are cumbersome, for me anyway. Thanks!


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