Well Being

Talking about Breastfeeding in Public

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Every time another incident occurs in which a mother is asked to stop breastfeeding in public, I go back and forth about whether or not to talk about it. In my nearly eight years of breastfeeding, I have never had anyone say anything negative to me about nursing in public. I did get a funny look from an elderly woman one time when I was nursing my 2.5-year-old curled around my big pregnant belly, but I can see why it might be a little shocking to some people to be hit with the toddler-nursing/nursing-while-pregnant/nursing-in-public triple whammy. The woman's funny look did not bother me as I focused on meeting my child's needs. I am confident in my parenting choices and care little what strangers think. So I never have had any real trouble nursing in public and I do not want other women to get the impression that if they nurse in public they are at all likely to receive comment on it. More likely they will get a knowing smile or nod from another person, usually a woman (for men are afraid to acknowledge nursing in public even in a positive way as heaven forbid it be misinterpreted as leering at the breastfeeding woman!)

On the other hand, if we (as in the royal “we”) do not talk about incidents in which mothers are asked to stop breastfeeding, we potentially do a disservice to other women because we miss an opportunity to educate the general population and business owners about breastfeeding in public, and we do not teach mothers how to stand up for their rights and the rights of their nursing babies in the unlikely event of a confrontation.

Photo by postanthem on flickr.com

Photo by postanthem on flickr.com

Once again I was faced with this double-edged sword when I read earlier this week about the mother asked to stop nursing in the dressing room of a Hollister Co. store in Texas. You can read the full story here at the local NBC news site and watch an interview with the breastfeeding mother Naomi Yap and her husband Marc (gorgeous family, great interview!)

What do you think? What is the obligation of the breastfeeding community when it comes to talking about confrontations over nursing in public?

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