I have seen some recent headlines about breastfeeding in public, and wanted to give my 2 cents on this issue. I will assume that we choose breastfeeding over bottle-feeding here, so this will not be a debate between formula and breastfeeding. I wanted to write this post simply to discuss issues surrounding attitudes toward breastfeeding in public.

My Perspective

It is an issue with me, often, as I am still breastfeeding our baby and she is now 21 months old. Some people will say that it is pretty odd to breastfeed this late, but I honestly don’t care. This is my baby, my breasts, my milk, and I should be allowed to do what I want here, since the baby is still asking for milk, and we stay together all day, so there is no need for us to separate, and therefore wean. I have reduced my feedings to about 3-4 a day. My baby mostly feeds when she sleeps, or is falling asleep. The process is relaxing for her and helps her fall asleep. So, that’s that, but there are a few feedings a day when the baby actually feeds during the day, and tends to take up strange poses, often almost hanging off my breasts.

Breastfeeding Cover as a Solution to Breastfeeding in Public

There are lots of products in the market that I have seen that help to resolve this problem of breastfeeding in public. With my other two babies I didn’t care, and didn’t know those products existed, but here in the USA where we live, people tend to wear these breastfeeding covers a lot, so I thought I’d try to get one. For me it doesn’t work that well. While the cover certainly provides privacy, unfortunately, my baby is really squirmy, and just won’t stay calm while I am feeding her. She is always moving, and this poor cover just won’t stay in place, so it does not provide any privacy, but rather become a battle with a piece of cloth while I am trying to get stuff done here. When this baby was little, we had trouble getting her to latch properly, especially for the first several months. Having this cloth right in front of me was very inconvenient. That being said, I think the product is very good, well made, and easy to clean – I recommend trying it out, if you are expecting. This product was provided to me for free to test it.

Breastfeeding in Public in the News

Recently, the issue of breastfeeding in public has acquired some attention. Here Alyssa Milano sparred on TV with Wendy Williams about breastfeeding in public, watch what they discussed:

And then, of course, we have a Republican Representative Josh Moore from New Hampshire who blurted out on social media that he would grab women’s nipples if they were to expose them, as that would be his natural reaction. I am glad I didn’t vote for this guy. I think that breastfeeding women and babies should receive different treatment from public nudity (not that that response would be appropriate in either case). Of course, that is my opinion, but it is always advisable to do it discreetly, if possible, it is just that this is not always possible. This should not deter women from breastfeeding. In the end, breastfeeding is one of those most natural things we can do in life – you can’t beat the health benefits of breast milk for babies.

In the UK a law was passed in 2010 that would make it illegal for people to stop mothers from breastfeeding their babies in public. In the US 49 states also have legislation that permits breastfeeding in public.

What does the Public Actually Think

Here are some sentiments that I found online. They pretty much describe the overall mood:

Official Statistics and Surveys

The attitudes of people are changing a lot with time about breastfeeding. Based on the data from the CDC that issues a HealthStyles survey every year, people seem to be much more comfortable to see a woman breastfeeding a baby in a public place (57.75% in 2015 vs 49.9% in 1999).
Here is an infographic that I have created to demonstrate the results of a survey that I have found:
breastfeeding in public infographic

The Yey From Me in the End

In conclusion, while opinions differ on this topic, I think breastfeeding is the right of any mother to provide nourishment to her baby, and it should not be politicized, or punished. If someone wants to breastfeed in public, they should be allowed to choose what they do, and what is the most appropriate for them and the situation they are in. Public locations should strive to accommodate breastfeeding women and babies.

Final Question to My Audience:

Let me know in the comments what you think about breastfeeding – yey or ney?

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