Women nursing their babies in public or breastfeeding in open view of the general public is not something men and women like. Social attitudes vary as widely as legal protection on this issue. In fact, many countries have passed legislation on this subject, such as Australia, some states of the United States, Europe and a few Asian countries, allowing breastfeeding in public and at work.
In some Western and Third World countries, this action is so common that it isn’t considered an issue at all. Despite that this practice is legal or socially accepted in certain countries, yet mothers are often reluctant to publicly breastfeed their babies due to negative comments or behaviour, people’s objections and harassment. According to estimates, about 63% of nursing mothers worldwide have breastfed publicly.
However, women in those states that allow this practice, continue to nurse their babies in public places. They cite the law when objections are raised against their behaviour. They stage protests against those who publicly denounce such practices. Despite the fact that public nursing is accepted more than it used to be, yet some people have their reservations to this practice. If you too are a nursing mom or are going to be in the near future, it would help if you understood people’s concerns on this issue:
5 Reasons Why People Are Against Breastfeeding In Public
One-third of people feel that women breastfeeding is inappropriate. Other arguments they proposed were:
It’s indecent to nurse your baby in public: People against women breastfeeding in public feel it is indecent on women’s part to do this. They feel that a woman’s breast is not a part of her body that should be exposed to the general public, even if only to feed her baby. Just because nursing is natural and part of a baby’s growth doesn’t justify public breastfeeding just about anywhere.
It can cause men to harass women: When people are confronted with a woman breastfeeding her baby, their reactions could stop at harassment or go on to assaulting her. This is the range of reactions people give when they see women breastfeeding their babies. Such people feel that by avoiding such body exposure, they can keep themselves safe.
It can lead to a lot of awkward reactions: Public breastfeeding doesn’t involve just a baby’s passive drinking of milk from a mother’s breast. The baby could at times make awkward sucking sounds which could make neighbouring people uncomfortable. Alternatively, older children watching this spectacle could ask their parents awkward questions about it.
This kind of intimacy should be kept at home: There are some people who feel that breastfeeding is such an intimate act between mother and baby that it should not leave the precincts of the home. If it makes people around uncomfortable, it should be limited to a private space.
It could be illegal: Public nursing, to some people, is a form of breaking the law. Just as there are states that protect women who nurse their babies in public, there are some states that term it as illegal.
With the exception of South Dakota and Idaho, all 47 states of the United States allow public nursing.
Tips for public breastfeeding moms
If you choose to nurse your babe in public, keep these tips in mind that will protect your rights:
Don’t be revealing: Practice breastfeeding your babe facing the mirror. If you feel you’ll be revealing a lot of skin, you can devise ways of preventing that by practicing at home. Nurse your babe while wearing a range of clothes to see which suit you best while nursing. Often, babies don’t like anything touching their faces, so see what suits you both.
Be armed with the law: Do you have a copy of your state’s laws on the subject? If you don’t, you can download it from the website of the National Conference of State Legislatures. Show this to anyone that objects to what you do.
Don’t get into a fight: Make sure that the person wants you to leave because you’re nursing. Ask repeatedly so that you don’t get into an unnecessary argument.
Dress appropriately and comfortably: Go in for front open dresses and feeding bras which can facilitate feeding. A button down shirt is also a good idea. If you choose to wear a tank top, a lot of your skin will be revealed while you breastfeed, so wear a cardigan or an unbuttoned shirt.
Should you wear nursing covers? Think about it and decide if you want to use one in public. If you don’t, you might like to share your thoughts with people who object to your public breastfeeding. Perhaps you don’t want to because your baby finds it uncomfortable or it means carrying more items in your baby bag than you’d like to.
Take a wrap along: You can grow into the habit of breastfeeding in a wrap while the baby carrier’s fabric will cover your breast and the baby.
Think of your needs too: It’s not unusual for moms to be so into doing things for their babies that they forget to take care of themselves. Not to be one of them, remember to take a bottle of water or any liquid that can keep you well and hydrated. Pick up a snack that can energize you so that you continue to take good care of your little one.
Be confident: If other moms can successfully nurse their babies in public, why not you? All you’re doing is to feed your baby naturally–one that’s going to be part of the same society as those who object to your action. People may disagree with your actions, but they will always respect a confident person. So, be that person to them.
You might choose to nurse publicly or not, but you still need to be sensitive about both sides of this niggling problem. By doing this, you can be familiar with your rights and protect them by taking action against those who attack you on this issue of public nursing.