Choosing to breastfeed in public isn’t for the faint of heart.
At nearly every turn, the efforts of nursing mothers attempting to feed their children Mother Nature’s best while going about their daily routine can be actively discouraged or even thwarted. The widespread lack of acceptance of nursing in public no doubt plays a large role in the decision of millions of mothers to quit breastfeeding within weeks or months after baby is born – much to the detriment of the child’s long term health.
The situation can sometimes become downright nasty as a young couple discovered recently when they were asked to immediately leave a New York Country Club and even viewed as potential terrorists when the mother tried to discreetly nurse her baby on the terrace during lunch.
And who could forget Emily Gillette who was kicked off a plane by a flight attendant for refusing to use a blanket while nursing her child (how would you like to eat with a blanket over your head on a hot, parked airplane?). Then there’s the sticky issue of women in the US military not being permitted to breastfeed while in uniform.
Like baby stops getting hungry when Mom goes to work or flies on a plane?
Even breastfeeding in Church is silently frowned upon by many congregations with mothers typically leaving the assembly and their families to take children to private rooms or worse, the restroom, to nurse.
Of all the public places to nurse, Church should indeed be the most welcoming of Nature’s most basic, natural and loving act between mother and child.
Pope Francis apparently thinks so too. The leader of the world’s largest Christian Church with 1.2 billion members recently stated in an interview that women should not feel uncomfortable breastfeeding during his ceremonies.
He reiterated this position today during a baptismal ceremony of 32 infants in the Sistine Chapel when he said during the homily, “If they are hungry, mothers, feed them, without thinking twice. Because they are the most important people here.”
Will women actually take Pope Francis up on his offer to openly breastfeed during Papal ceremonies and could such a trend possibly catch on elsewhere?
Only time will tell but Pope Francis’ statements are a strong step in the right direction toward complete and utter acceptance of the right and need of mothers to nurse their children anytime, anywhere.
this youtube.com video iherb
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Our church has a mothers room where we women feed our babies on demand and then return to the service. Nobody else takes their meal in church, then you usually have to pat them, change their diaper ect. much fussing and distraction. There is a speaker in the mothers room and we are still able to listen to the sermon. As for nursing in public let each to their own, covers are made very light weight and comfortable, less distraction for the tired pup. It is very easy not to show breasts without being covered as well, for me it totally depends where I am and who is around, I always consider those around me and their level of comfort. I have not had any rude comments.
I may be a male, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t understand breastfeeding. My wife breastfed all five of our children. She did it in all kinds of public settings and for the most part no one ever knew she was doing it. She was taught by La Leche League how to be discrete and she eventually became a La Leche League leader and coached many woman how to do the same. I don’t ever remember anyone ever making a derogatory remark. Of course this was more than thirty years ago, but I’m not sure that times have changed that much concerning breastfeeding. One thing I’m sure of: there is no shortage of people who frown on the practice.
Peggy Lippold Gates via Facebook
I nursed my babies in public almost 20 years ago without anyone saying anything. I am so amazed it is such an issue today.
I started out with a cover, but after feeding in a particularly hot and uncomfortable room, I haven’t bothered. It really bothered me not being able to look at my son. Now, I cover my nipple with my hand and no one sees anything. I am discreet, but I won’t move out of the room to feed my son. It really helps that Florida has a law protecting breastfeeding. I know that if someone says anything negative to me, they are in the wrong.
I cherished the time I breast fed my babies but I also had to feel safe from gawkers in order to have a let down.
Modesty is different for all peoples, and I respect that. I chose to cover up so that it wasn’t awkward for others who were not comfortable with it such as teenage boys.
I never felt inferior for covering up.
The woman on the plane should’ve covered up her baby, if not with a blanket, a light shawl. Ladies, please do not expose your breasts. I am ok with breastfeeding in public, just cover your breasts.
Covering while bf is not easy and juggling a struggling baby in a tiny airplane seat where probably very few can see it anyway is ridiculous!!! I don’t ask others to cover up what I consider to be unsightly things on their person. I am in Costa Rica right now and it’s perfectly acceptable to bf right out in public though I myself prefer to go into another room. They think I am silly for moving away from all the people to bf. I just think the babe feeds better in a more tranquil location.
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
I never used a cover breastfeeding any of my 3 children no matter where I breastfed and I nursed all over the place – anywhere and everywhere. Covers are a hassle, hot and uncomfortable for both Mom and baby. And, for an older baby, they just rip them off anyway and are basically useless.
I agree with Teresa that women should not expose their breasts in public. I covered up when breastfeeding my babies in public, and did not find it a hassle or uncomfortable (light shawl). I don’t think people are generally uncomfortable with babies being fed in public, as bottle-feeding is a form of feeding babies in public and you don’t hear any objections to that. The issue people object to is “breast exposure” in public. My opinion is that it is more considerate for women to use a cover in public if possible, or use a discreet technique where no one is “flashed”. I say this because it can definitely make people (boys, men) uncomfortable and we need to consider this.
I was way more discreet without a cover then I ever was with one, especially since my son hates them, no matter how light. It doesn’t have to touch him either, if he can see the cover, it has to go. My breasts were never exposed when I don’t use a cover, but have been with a cover.
It doesn’t sound like you are ok with breastfeeding if you are making specific demands about how women do it. Would it be an alright suggestion that you avert your eyes instead? How is someone’s breast being used to feed their child going to harm you? I’m being serious – not attacking or fighting. How does this harm you in any way?
Erin, I’ve always felt uncomfortable without a cover although I nurse in public all the time. I don’t feel like women who use covers are doing something less than perfect as you seem to suggest. Some of us are more modest, and prefer to not offend others who are more sensitive. If you choose to nurse without a cover, that’s fine. I think moms can do whichever they feel comfortable with, and that we don’t need to judge each other in either situation. It can be awkward either way, with or without a cover, so we should support each other instead of nit-picking each others’ nursing styles in favor of our own.
My impression of what she was saying is it’s sad that society make some mothers who breastfeed feel like they HAVE to cover. The whole “I’m not covering for me, it’s for others” suggests that she doesn’t like the cover, but feels it’s needed because of what society would say. If the mom wants to cover, I think that’s fine, but when a mom feels like she has to because she fears what others would say is where I find it sad, sad that society makes a mother feel that way.
Per my comment above, I agree. I don’t think Erin was judging the mom at all. It was the mom’s comment about covering for others that made her sad about the state of society.
lesley from kent
I’m a lapsed catholic, seriously secular, but this guy might well bring me back to mother church!