Full Circle Blog:
Breastfeeding

Nursing in Public, Friend or Foe?

September 5, 2012

Nursing in public has been, and most likely will always be, a subject that will be debated. I think we have to ask ourselves that if we mock, criticize and complain about women nursing in public, this will undermine women everywhere. It has always been a belief of mine that people should be able to express themselves in a way that makes them morally accountable and socially conscious individuals. So is breastfeeding in public hurting any one? Is it morally irresponsible for a woman to want to feed her child the way she chooses?

Yes, I am an IBCLC (Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant) which is the only credential that should be sought after by breastfeeding mother in a time of crisis, and I have seen firsthand how women feel after they have been asked to leave a public place because they were breastfeeding their baby. It is demoralizing, embarrassing, and socially irresponsible when one person is outcast just because she is feeding her baby. Is this kind of behavior any different from people who bully others because they are different? I think not, a breastfeeding mother has the right to feed her baby in public in most states. New York is one of the states that it is legal for a breastfeeding mother to feed her child any where “she has the right to be”.

Several years ago I answered a call from a mother who was breastfeeding her infant in a major grocery store while she was shopping. This mother had 5 children with one child that was disabled and her time at the grocery store was very limited. Her infant was hungry so while shopping, she placed the infant in a sling and fed her. The grocery store security guard reacted to a complaint by another patron and this mom was placed in handcuffs and lead out of the store. The older child’s medical condition had taken a toll on the family and  the extended family had to help the breastfeeding family with all their legal fees. In the end the judge in the case threw it out of the court room because it was against the law to prosecute a breastfeeding mother.

So I ask you, what is wrong with a mother who wants or needs to breastfeed her child in public? Is breastfeeding a moral issue? Why can’t women support other women in their decisions on how to raise children and how to feed them? Women need to stop being selective in how they support one another and we need to come together to protect the rights of our children and each other. I look forward to reading your comments.