Woman Breastfeeding in Public

A Little More Wisdom

Even though breastfeeding is a totally natural function–breasts were designed to produce milk–breastfeeding in public is riddled with complaints from opinionated onlookers. The truth is it’s legal in 49 states to breastfeed in public.

Breastfeeding in Public: Aww or Awkward?

Written by Cathy Hale on October 15th, 2017

One of the most amazing gifts moms have is the ability to breastfeed.  It’s part of the miracle of motherhood.  Breastfeeding can be tricky during the first few weeks, but once you get the hang of it, it tends to be a special time for both mother and baby.
 
But breastfeeding in the comfort of your own home is entirely different from breastfeeding in public. When I was a new mom, I figured breastfeeding on-the-go would be easy.  I had everything I needed–breasts and a baby. Boy was I wrong!
 
This realization hit home when we took my infant son out to dinner. I was only breastfeeding at the time, so I didn’t bring a bottle. Besides, it was just dinner. Well, my sleeping baby woke up during dinner and he was hungry. I searched the restaurant for a comfy, quiet spot. There wasn’t one. 
 
What was I supposed to do? Breastfeed my baby while sitting on a public toilet seat in a bathroom stall? I was mortified and heartbroken. This wasn’t how it was supposed to be.
 

Anatomy & function of breasts

Breastfeeding sustains life. Breasts were designed to produce milk. Breast milk is the primary source of nutrition for babies before they can eat and digest food. Breastfeeding provides numerous health benefits to baby and has long-term preventative effects for the mother like reducing osteoporosis and some studies have shown breastfeeding for six months or more can reduce risks of ovarian and breast cancer. *  
 

Publicly private or not

Things are better today for nursing moms, because many public places have dedicated care rooms for breastfeeding moms who want some privacy. But some moms don’t need private spots. They simply pull out a nursing blanket and nurse their babies right in public. Or, they do it without a blanket. I personally couldn’t nurse in front of strangers, because it made me feel uncomfortable. But that’s just me.
 

Why the shaming?

What’s a nursing mom supposed to do if she needs to nurse in a public place? It seems like she should be able to nurse without shame in whatever manner she chooses. But the reality is when a mom breastfeeds right out in the open at a mall or a restaurant or a park, people passing by will take to social media to complain about it.Why does something so natural face such social stigma?
 

What state & federal laws have to say

Despite the challenges of breastfeeding in public and the gripes from onlookers, breastfeeding in public is legal in 49 states.  Additionally, there have been federal laws like the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) that require employers with more than 50 employees to give nursing mothers a reasonable break time to express their milk and a reasonable place to do so. 
 
What do you think about breastfeeding in public? Is there a "socially acceptable" way to breastfeed in public?  Let us know in the comments section on our Facebook page.