NIP

What’s So Hard About Covering Up to Breastfeed in Public?

Any time a breastfeeding story comes up in the news, especially one in which a breastfeeding mom is asked to leave an area to feed her baby, I break my own rule about not reading online comments out of sheer, morbid curiosity. In real life, I’m surrounded by people who are very supportive of breastfeeding, so it interests me to read comments and questions about the appropriateness of breastfeeding in public.

Of course, there are always some unnecessarily mean people, but some sentiments that come up frequently are legitimately well-meaning. As a mom who nursed three kids in all kinds of situations, I thought I’d address a few of these:

“I totally support breastfeeding, but what’s so hard about covering up to breastfeed in public?”

That’s great that you support breastfeeding. I actually would love to get to the stage when we stop calling it breastfeeding, and just call it feeding. That’s all it is. You’re not feeding a breast, you’re feeding a baby. It’s babyfeeding. Should women have to cover their babies to feed them in public? That sounds a little silly, doesn’t it?

But to answer your question, there are several reasons why moms might not cover up in public:

1) It actually is hard to cover up and feed a baby at the same time. Especially when you’re a new mom, and you’re trying to wrangle a squishy baby into a comfortable position where they can latch on correctly. Even with my third baby, keeping a cover over my shoulder while latching on wasn’t easy. And really, the only time one would “need” to cover up due to possible nipple exposure (if that’s the reason you think moms should cover up) is during the latch-on. And balancing a blanket on your shoulder while trying to see what you’re doing to get the baby latched is a big pain in the butt. Truly.

2) Some babies hate being covered. Most of the time, my babies would try to pull the cover off. I wouldn’t want to eat with a blanket over my head, would you? Especially when it’s hot. Ugh, it makes me claustrophobic just thinking about it.

3) One of the benefits of breastfeeding is the eye contact between mom and baby. The location of the breast is designed to put the baby within the vision range of mom’s face. Yes, you can have the same eye contact when you’re bottle feeding, which begs the question – would you cover up your baby’s face while cradling and bottle feeding, rather than looking at your baby and smiling at him/her at regular intervals? That would be silly.

4) When I was nursing, I actually felt like using a cover drew more attention to what I was doing. Uncovered, most of the time, it just looked like I had a baby cradled in my arms, sleeping. No breast could be seen once baby was latched. Nothing screams, “Hey, I’m breastfeeding over here!” like a draping a blanket over your shoulder while awkwardly trying to get your baby into a comfortable breastfeeding position.

5) Covering up implies that there’s something inappropriate about feeding a baby. There’s not. It’s feeding a baby. That’s it.

“I breastfed all my babies, but I never did it in public. Why don’t women just pump if they’re going out?”

That’s great that you breastfed all your babies. That’s also great if you were able to pump and that your baby took a bottle. Not all moms can pump successfully. Not all babies will take a bottle. After working at it for a while, I could pump, but my babies never took a bottle. That wasn’t for lack of trying – they just wouldn’t. I’m sure if their lives depended on it, and if I wasn’t around for a long time, they would eventually take one, but having a baby is hard enough. I wasn’t about to go through that much unnecessary effort so that I could bottle feed in public.

I’ve known some women who couldn’t get anything from pumping. Some women can’t relax enough with a machine hooked up to their body to get a letdown. Totally understandable.

But the real answer to this question is, they shouldn’t have to. Think about what you’re suggesting: that a mother skip a feeding to pump, or pump regularly enough to have the extra milk to pump outside of a feeding, then find a way to keep the milk cold in transport, then find a way to warm up the milk once she is where she’s going, then feed the baby with the bottled milk, then deal with the leakage or discomfort of the full breasts she has from feeding with the bottle instead of the breast for that feeding, and then wash and sterilize the bottle afterward–all instead of just taking her baby with her and feeding the ready-to-go milk she has on hand in her own body?

Doesn’t that seem a little ridiculous?

Most women who successfully pump have a system and a routine for it, and usually it’s because they’re away from their babies for a certain amount of time on a regular basis. More power to them. I’ve known lot of working, pumping moms, and I think they’re amazing.

But the idea of pumping just to go out in public with your baby, when your breasts are right there with you, is goofy to me. How long have breast pumps been around? How long have humans been feeding babies? When did we get to the mindset that feeding babies in public is better done with machinery and accessories than with mom?

“I don’t mind if moms breastfeed in public, as long as they do it modestly. Especially if there are kids or teens around.”

That’s great that you don’t mind if moms breastfeed in public. But let’s discuss the modesty idea. I hope you have the same feelings about modesty when you see a woman in a bathing suit, or a low-cut top, because 99% of the time, that’s all you can see of a woman’s breast when she breastfeeds.

Granted, there might be a couple of seconds of nipple showing. If you really don’t want to see that, pay close attention to moms with babies. Here are the cues that a mom is getting ready to breastfeed:

1. She starts to lift her shirt or adjust her bra.

There you go. As soon as you see that starting to happen, look away. If you’re really concerned about your children seeing a woman breastfeeding, take that cue to show them something in the other direction.

But really, if kids are going to have any exposure to breasts (and they already have, if you have ever taken them to the grocery store and waited at the checkout stand where they keep the magazines), isn’t that the kind of exposure they should have? Don’t you want your children to see what breasts are primarily for? They’re getting plenty of messages on billboards, television, and other media that breasts are sexual. Seeing them used in a decidedly and awesomely unsexual way can only be good, in my opinion.

“Can’t you just go to the bathroom to breastfeed?”

1) Bathrooms are gross. Would you want to eat in there?

2) Many bathrooms don’t have a chair to sit in, which leaves Mom with the option of sitting on the floor (yuck) or on the toilet (double yuck).

3) If a mom wants privacy to nurse because she feels more comfortable that way, that’s great. I’m a big fan of having lounge areas for nursing moms. But it should be for her comfort, not for yours. When I was nursing, I occasionally removed myself to nurse because it was too loud or I wanted a little space, but the times I removed myself because of my worries about other people, I felt exiled. When a mom feels that she needs to hide to breastfeed, the message is that there’s something shameful or wrong with what she’s doing. And that’s not right.

Along with the presumably well-meaning comments, I’ve also seen a few more, ahem, “strongly-worded” sentiments I’d like to address:

“Breastfeeding is totally natural, but so is going to the bathroom / having sex, and people don’t do that in public.”

Going to the bathroom is gross, stinky, and unsanitary to do in public, which is why we don’t do it. Feeding a baby is none of those things. Sex is an incredibly private, intimate act. Feeding a baby can be intimate in that it’s a bonding experience between baby and mom, but it’s more of a holding hands kind of intimacy–not something that needs to be confined to the privacy of a bedroom or home. The comparisons are apples and oranges.

“If you want to breastfeed, that’s fine, but I don’t want to / shouldn’t have to see it.”

Then don’t look. And I don’t mean that in a snarky way. You really don’t have to watch a mom breastfeed. (See cues in third question above.) Just look the other way and move on.

“Women who breastfeed in public are just trying to get attention / make a statement.”

Actually, 99% of women who feed their babies in public are just trying to feed their babies. Having been around hundreds of women who breastfeed, including dozens at a recent La Leche League conference, I can attest to the fact that most women are very matter-of-fact about feeding their babies.

I’ve known one mom who exposed much more breast for much longer than any other moms I’ve known, but she was raised in Africa, so that explains it. I’ve known of one other mom (don’t know her personally) who sounds like she has some exhibition issues and takes the opportunity to show more breast than necessary any old time she can. That’s by far an exception, and not the norm. Most breastfeeding mothers don’t “let it all hang out.” They do what they need to do to feed their babies, no more, no less.

“This isn’t a village in Africa. It’s culturally inappropriate to bare your breasts in public here.”

I’m curious about what this says about villages in Africa, or other places where breasts are common sights. Why is it culturally inappropriate here? I don’t necessarily think it should be, I just want to walk through the reasoning for our cultural views of breasts. Is it because our society views breasts as primarily sexual in nature? Are African breasts not sexual in nature as well? Would you shield your eyes from a National Geographic magazine showing bare-breasted women in Africa? Would you hide that from your children? If so, why? Are African women inappropriate? Is there some kind of fear that if we start accepting breastfeeding in public without freaking out about covering up, women will eventually start walking around bare-breasted all the time? Lots of questions pop up from this statement that are worth examining.

I personally think it should be culturally appropriate for women to bare a breast for a brief second in order to latch a baby on, no matter where in the world they are. There’s nothing sexual or inappropriate in that act. I think it should be way more culturally appropriate than, say, going to Hooters. Our priorities are a tad bit skewed when it comes to what’s culturally appropriate regarding breasts. If we want to get all righteous about the appropriateness of breast exposure, let’s direct our energies at movies, music videos, billboards, magazines, and other popular media. Leave moms who are trying to feed their babies out of it.

And if you really don’t want to see a woman feed her baby in public, don’t look. Don’t make her feel ashamed, don’t exile her to the bathroom, don’t make erroneous assumptions about her motives, don’t compare feeding her baby to defecating, don’t make hypocritical cultural statements, don’t make it harder to do than it already is. Just don’t look. It really is that simple.

7/13/14 – Hi all! I wrote a follow-up to this post, addressing some of the concerns and opinions voiced in the comments section. Find it here.  – Annie

Annie writes about motherhood and other hilariously beautiful things. On good days, she enjoys juggling life with her husband and three children. On bad days, she binges on chocolate chips and dreams of traveling the world alone.

Comments 474

  1. Pingback: More Breastfeeding in Public Concerns | Motherhood and More

  2. Nicole

    Thank you for this post. I’m a first time mom breastfeeding my almost 8 week old son. I am having a lot of anxieties about breastfeeding in public, not because I’m uncomfortable, but because I am afraid of making someone else uncomfortable. Which is ridiculous. My son hates to be under a cover and I hate it as well. This post provided some very great answers to questions that I am faced with all the time. Thank you so much for writing it. :) I hope to one day, feed as comfortably in public as I do when we’re at home.

  3. Anonymous

    This sort new area in America in time future generation of men will adjust to new norm women breastfeeding in public. I’m a man brought up old society rules and breasts are very sexual exciting to me I try not look make moms uncomfortable but truly tempting as older generation of men fade on and time passes it become common and go much unnoticed but going take society time to adjust.

  4. Anonymous

    In 1986 I was on a jury for a rape trial. The man admitted to guilt. Said he was turned on by her breast after watching her feed her baby in the park, uncovered. He followed her home raped her and also nursed himself from her. Cover up ladies.

  5. Anonymous

    The first time I saw a woman breastfeeding I was about 6 or 7, I asked my mother what she was doing and she said feeding her baby and let it go at that. That was in the early 60’s when it was “normal” . Now society either has a big beef with it or say “bare it all!!” The crime in this world today against women is just sickening and I am afraid some sick perverted person will take it the wrong way if a mother is over zealous and pulls her top down and feeds the child with the whole breast exposed. I promote breast feeding as long as the mother is mindful enough to show only what they need to to feed. It is a controversial topic and many people have many things to say, they just need to realize that this is the only way women had to feed in the past!!!

  6. Anonymous

    I am personally a supporter of modesty. And I hope that each of you will encourage women who have my convictions but still want to nurse, in the same way that you encourage people to try to view it as normalcy instead of a taboo.
    No, not every woman has to use a cover to accomplish modesty. Some can achieve this well by turning away from people during the latch period; and then their personal anatomy is covered well by their baby.

    But I’m not one of those lucky ones. I have large breasts, need to use a nipple shield (which makes the latch on process take much longer), and have areolas that are literally 5 inches in diameter. Besides that, I have come out of years of sexual sin and am thus convicted about modesty, which means that I also try to not show cleavage and want to use a cover.

    When I read the blogs, I was first angered. Not by the blog’s content, but by the thoughtless, hateful comments by people from both sides of the viewpoint. But then I thought about my friends and family – people that I love – who share the viewpoint of the writer and of many of the commenters. And I wanted to offer a way for you to understand how I feel and the encouragement I need in my position. I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback, including from advocators of feeding without a cover, so I’m going to post it here.

    “I invite women to remember to encourage each other. Nursing is difficult as it is. But if someone has a strong conviction to remain modest and try to do it while covering up, remember how much more difficult that is going to be for her.
    All of the judgmental attitudes that surround breastfeeding make me not even want to try it again. But maybe some of you who don’t agree with covering up while nursing can still encourage me and others, and try to help me figure out how to do it while covering up.
    We can thank the porn industry, tv, ads, and many things that have become prominent and normalized in the last century for poisoning the minds into thinking that breasts are always sexual. But don’t blame an individual man for that. What has become purely sexual in his mind is because of the trash that we have ALL pushed in his face by indulging in cleavage-baring shirts, racy tv, Cosmo magazines, and porn.
    It’s too late now to undo that damage. But I am convicted to use modesty and not force what has been ingrained as “sexual” into another man’s vision, while shouting “You dirty perv! How dare you see my bare breasts as sexual! They are ONLY for feeding.”
    While they have the beautiful purpose of feeding our babies, they have always been viewed as beautiful and sexually alluring in the eyes of men. We have proof of this in Song of Solomon, which was written a loooong time ago, before there was Cinemax, Cosmo, or Game of Thrones.
    What you do is your choice. But please remember that what I do is also my choice. The blogs and comments that criticize women who WANT to try but are convicted about modesty are just discouraging women who need help learning how to successfully breastfeeding while also covering.

    All in all, please please just encourage each other.
    (Also know that this is not an excuse for those who judge, criticize, and express hatred for those who are not using a cover. I’m not excusing hateful behavior on EITHER side of the issue.)”

    On a separate note, I want to include that most people who support using a nursing cover are NOT ok with the risqué retail ads, sexual magazine covers, and usually prefer to cover more while in a bathing suit rather than sporting a skimpy bikini. There will be some hypocrites, but I think we can agree that there are hypocrites everywhere, arguing everything and every side.

    Thank you to those of you who are trying to advocate and encourage women to breastfeed! If you choose not to use a cover, please also considering encouraging those who do because it might be more difficult for them with that added challenge.

  7. Anonymous

    Hello. I’ve read your article, and all of the comments, and I applaud you for writing this. I nursed both of my older children, and will nurse my baby that’s due in October, and I will feed her when, where, and how SHE is most comfortable, because nursing isn’t about everyone else, it’s about our children, and what THEY need. When my son was a baby, I was in college. I nursed him in classes, in the student union, in the offices of the various student organizations I was involved in, and nobody batted an eye. I was in one org that was made up of 90% male members, and of all the men there were two who actively watched me feed my son. One was developmentally delayed (what would have been called a simpleton in another era), and simply found the process interesting. The other was one of the few men I’ve ever come across who simply couldn’t separate the act of feeding my child from the sexual stimulation of seeing my breast. I never had to say a word to him. Whenever I’d meet his eye, he’d blush and look away, and eventually, the other men in the group got on his case about making our events awkward because NOBODY wanted to be distracted by him perving on my little boy being fed. A few months after my son was born, I took one a small segment of the student government. The loudest voices opposing me were male ‘professional’ students – men between twenty-five and forty who were still in college long after they should have graduated because they had no interest in joining the real world. Three in particular spoke out in student governance sessions, and tried to use my breastfeeding to change bylaws regarding how student org office space should be used, comparing the act of feeding my son to having sex in the offices. I wrote a bill not only upholding my state’s laws protecting a nursing mother’s right to breastfeed in state owned facilities, which my University was, but itemizing a list of reasonable penalties for harassing a nursing mother. My Bill was sponsored by not less than SEVEN members of the student government, and while it didn’t pass a such, the Dean of Student Affairs chose to champion my cause, and support the formation of a student org dedicated to educating the student body about breastfeeding, and providing support to students who were nursing mothers and the partners of nursing mothers. While it’s been my experience that people in general are accepting, or at least genuinely apathetic, toward nursing mothers, the reality is that the ones who don’t tend to be the most obnoxious about making mothers feel uncomfortable over public breastfeeding. To those people I say what I said to my own student government. If you can’t learn not to be a small minded bigot, at least learn to shut up, because my life is none of your affair. Your rights stop where my person, and my children, begin. I will manage my own tasks as a mother, and you manage your own issues. If you don’t want to see me doing what God gave me the right and the authority to do for my child, go somewhere else. If you are interested in the process, and want to ask me questions, feel free. I don’t bite. But if you want to get in my face and try to make me feel small, bring it. I will make everyone around you HATE you until you slink away with your tail between your legs.

    I don’t go out of my way to advertise the fact that I’m breastfeeding, but I’ll be DAMNED if I’m going to let anybody make me feel ashamed of myself for doing so.

  8. Britta

    I just read this article as well as the one you link to at the end. I admit that I have thought/said more than two of the arguments that you address. Thank you so much for your polite, non-aggressive reasoning and logic! Everything you said makes perfect sense and quells any disagreement I may have thought before.

  9. Anonymous

    My LO is 4 months and my wife has been feeding him the entire time.. What bugs me most of all is that her mother who could not breastfeed tells her to cover up because it makes others uncomfortable.. Does this sound like a hint of jealousy or do you think she actually has the interest of others in mind?

  10. Anonymous

    I became a mom when i was 20. Reading all the reasons you’ve listed made me laugh. One can realize that when you want to do something you’ll figure out the way as well as reasons for it. But it’s not that simple. Breastfeeding is a gift from a God, it’s amazing, it’s needed, it’s something we should make a propaganda so that all women would practice it rather than thinking of its shape. However breastfeeding publicly is too much. When you need to do itt find a quiet and lonely place and feed your baby, people should not have to watch it. We are human beings and of course we have lots of natural needs but we don’t do them publicly saying it’s natural. We are women at the end of the day,how can we get half naked no mmatter the reason. Please stop these nonsense about nudity is natural. Then please all of you walk in the city in a naked way. Don’t shame to show your body to your kids And let’s see the future consequences of it.

  11. Anonymous

    Love this article!!! I nursed twins for 14 months. That meant shirt off, bra off, and ready! When we were in public, I was fortunate enough to have babies who woukd cooperate. One baby at a time, we’d cover up & they’d eat. It took longer, but that’s how we managed getting out every once in a while. I was amazed. One friend who nursed her own kids would ask why I wouldn’t just go in the other room as if it grossed her out that I had a blanket over me. Other comments included things like “this is why you should just do formula.”

  12. Steve Eagle Sewell

    I think there is nothing more beautiful and natural than a breast feeding woman bonding with a child. It’s as oldest tradition of mankind. The ONLY reason it is not acceptable in some countries is RELIGION that has taught people that nudity of any kind is sinful and not acceptable. The women that don’t breastfeed are merely victims of religious dogma that says breas-tfeeding is naughty and canned artificial formula is better. That’s a lie. Canned formula is loaded with preservatives and man made crap. A baby gets more pro-biotics, vitamins, minerals, anti oxidants, and amino acids from mom than is even possible from a can. So the people that are offended should really look at why they are offended and let it go. That’s an antique paradigm and time to change your thinking.

  13. Headstrong

    Oh dear what would they think of me here in Ontario legally trapping around my property with my tits all out!!!! Strange how I can legally do that and get all the same backlash….. No this isn’t Africa; this is Ontario Canada. Where women have the same legal right as men to walk around topress eat it!!

  14. Ashley

    I agree with everything except the covering up part. I’ve nursed 4 wiggly babies, and have had no problems wearing a cover. I use a light material with a strap and just keep it in my diaper bag…no, it is not that hard and it is only on occasion. Yah, I prefer not to have to wear a cover and don’t if I’m in my home or just around other women…but if I’m in a public place, especially if there’s young boys or men there…I think it is inappropriate not to cover up. I would get upset if someone else flashed their breasts in front of my sons or husband. Yes, boys and men are responsible for their own thoughts, but those thoughts are a natural reaction to a stimulus that we can control whether or not we put there. Yah, unfortunately we live in a society that bombards them with these stimuli, but I don’t want to be a part of the problem. I think breastfeeding is a special bonding time between mother and baby, and I don’t want to put that on display for all to see or risk the possibility of triggering inappropriate thoughts or negative feelings. Obviously it upsets some people, so just do the respectful thing and cover up.

  15. Cara Mutschler

    I like your acticle. Its very well written at addressing those negative comments and so called “supportive” comments. I bf in public as much as possible. Its usually isnt even noticable for most people. Lol I have never “whipped out” a breast lol. That cracks me up when people say that.

  16. Ashley

    I agree with everything except the covering up part. I’ve nursed 4 wiggly babies, and have had no problems wearing a cover. I use a light material with a strap and just keep it in my diaper bag…no, it is not that hard and it is only on occasion. Yah, I prefer not to have to wear a cover and don’t if I’m in my home or just around other women…but if I’m in a public place, especially if there’s young boys or men there…I think it is inappropriate not to cover up. I would get upset if someone else flashed their breasts in front of my sons or husband. Yes, boys and men are responsible for their own thoughts, but those thoughts are a natural reaction to a stimulus that we can control whether or not we put there. Yah, unfortunately we live in a society that bombards them with these stimuli, but I don’t want to be a part of the problem. I think breastfeeding is a special bonding time between mother and baby, and I don’t want to put that on display for all to see or risk the possibility of triggering inappropriate thoughts or negative feelings. Obviously it upsets some people, so just do the respectful thing and cover up.

  17. Ashley

    I agree with everything except the covering up part. I’ve nursed 4 wiggly babies, and have had no problems wearing a cover. I use a light material with a strap and just keep it in my diaper bag…no, it is not that hard and it is only on occasion. Yah, I prefer not to have to wear a cover and don’t if I’m in my home or just around other women…but if I’m in a public place, especially if there’s young boys or men there…I think it is inappropriate not to cover up. I would get upset if someone else flashed their breasts in front of my sons or husband. Yes, boys and men are responsible for their own thoughts, but those thoughts are a natural reaction to a stimulus that we can control whether or not we put there. Yah, unfortunately we live in a society that bombards them with these stimuli, but I don’t want to be a part of the problem. I think breastfeeding is a special bonding time between mother and baby, and I don’t want to put that on display for all to see or risk the possibility of triggering inappropriate thoughts or negative feelings. Obviously it upsets some people, so just do the respectful thing and cover up.

  18. Anonymous

    Very well written.
    I breastfeed my two children till they self-weaned at 26 months and 30 months. I feed them where and when they needed to eat. They only got bottles of bm when I was at work. If we were together they got it straight from the source.
    During that time I got dirty looks for nursing using a nursing cover. I also got told by my own sister in law that she had no clue I was nursing my daughter when I wasn’t using a cover.
    People need to get over themselves and realize that they don’t always get a vote in what others do. My baby, my body, my boobs, my decision.

    Oh and by the way while I was reading this my 7 year old daughter sat down on the couch and nursed her baby doll.

  19. Anonymous

    Im a large breast woman living in texas and i have the fortunate disposition to being smaller waisted. My friend calls it the dolly parton syndrome.. lol but i digress.. i have a six year old daughter that i breast fed and a nine month old son that i am currently breast feeding, and Ive had to memorable experiences thus far. One a woman chastised me for doing it saying if i was a christian i should be ashamed of myself for breast feeding in a park with children around. (I was being a good aunt and watching my nieces) i looked at her and smiled stating “well bless your little old heart why in heaven do you think god gave me to swollen breasts with milk if i wasnt meant to nourish my child with them?” The second was a man who approached when i was feeding my son and told me that his son who was about four or five was asking him what i was doing and he wasnt sure how to explain it to him and if i could so his son could understand. Which of course i did the man thabked me and walked away with his son. I dont believe in putting my children under blankets to feed both got and get fussy. I have used a very light scarf once or twice to protect their face from the sun not for anyone elses “comfort”.

  20. Anonymous

    It’s great post! Especially because it’s not pro breastfeeding. I couldn’t breastfeeding either of my son. It’s been one of the most challenging and traumatic experience FOR ME. I insist on the “FOR ME”. Would I be blessed with a third child, I would not even consider trying. None the less, I felt ashamed and uncomfortable feeding my babies, especially when they were VERY young. I felt judged by others, because breastfeeding is the best option and I settled for second best.
    My point is, no matter what you do, someone will be out there to give you grief. Hell, some people will even give you grief on your chosen delivery method, with or without pain relief, induced or not, vaginal or c-section…
    People need to mind their own business. FULL STOP. Be strong on whatever decision you make, if you’re loving mother/parent, it’s most certainly is the right answer for YOU and YOUR child.

  21. Publius

    By my count there are well over 7 billion boobies in the world today. Breastfeeding is the most natural thing I can imagine. What a strange, repressed bit of culture we have to think a baby at the breast is something to be ashamed or, or embarrassed by.

    All you people who can’t stand to see a woman breastfeeding have some serious hang-ups that are your problem – not mom’s, and not the baby’s.

    You see man boobs all the time and say nary a word! Why is it only a woman’s breast that must be covered up all the time?

    Even speaking as a man, we would all have a much healthier attitude about this and other things if we saw more naked boobies. It’s really not a big deal.

  22. Melissa

    Thank you. Just thank you. I made a list like this myself but I’m a little more snarky.
    I feel physically ill when I hear/read people compare breastfeeding to peeing or pooping. I just can’t believe that comparison is made by someone in a civilized society. It is sad to me.

  23. Anonymous

    Women aren’t a new creation. We’ve been on this earth for some time now; why is it that we have to “explain or justify” anatomy that we were born with. And although size, shape, color, and “lift” is different breast to breast…They haven’t changed. They’ve been the same substance, in relatively the same place on the body, and designed for the same function for a very very long time. Deciding after all this time that they are “unnatural” or “embarrassing” boggles my mind.

  24. Amanda Felton

    I love this article! Thank you for sharing. It covers everything that I could never think of. I haven’t read any of the comments on this post – there are so many. I will only give you positive feedback and welcome reading everything else you have to write. Thank you again.

  25. Kiki

    To any who may oppose an open feeding… May I introduce you to Walmart? The land of OMG I did NOT want to see that? Then come back and tell me the back of my baby’s head and two fingers worth on either side of her mouth is upsetting.

    Ever been to the beach? Hairy 50+ year old men in speedos… Leather people… Men who don’t know how to sit in board shorts without showing off their chewed bubblegum.

    How about a public park? Volleyball females in boy short bottoms that are less than underwear sized and so tight you can check their pulse… Thong laden benches with low cut tops(not for easy access to BF but rather to remind themselves they are still “hot”)… Guys who can’t seem to find pants that fit correctly so they impersonate the waddling penguins from Mary Poppins.

    How about a restaurant? Where underwear is seen from table to table… Low V tops… Horrid table manners to include fetching dropped food from within a shirt… Male butt Mohawks from hair threatening to escape pants

    Bus stops? Booger pickers… Butt scratchers… Guys who have way too much contact with their genitalia

    Now, is that inch and a half around my baby’s mouth such a big deal when I have to look at all that nastiness elsewhere?

  26. Martha Levie

    It really is odd living in a part-Puritanical, part-hypersexualized society. A child nursing at its mother’s breast is part of the natural cycle of life. Children that grow up around it have a greater understanding of that cycle and how to enter into it. Great article.

  27. Anonymous

    From my male perspective feeding in a public retail enviorment appears awkard to the moms. To just sit on a display chair in the middle of an office supply store and start feeding invites big attention from other shoppers. Remedy with a confortable chair in the womens lounge seems to insult the mothers. A daughter in law who runs around in a bikini yet won’t sit in a room of family when she is feeding. Too much chaos in this.

  28. Anonymous

    All this talk about males being unable to control their sexual arousal… I would like to say, as a heterosexual male, that I fully support women’s right to breastfeed wherever they like without having to cover up. It’s irrelevant whether men might get sexually aroused at the sight of a breastfeeding woman. Men need to be held accountable for their BEHAVIOR, regardless of circumstances. There’s too much allowance in our culture for mean not being held accountable (“she shouldn’t have worn such a revealing outfit, she shouldn’t have been walking home alone at night” etc.). Let’s just demand proper behavior from men regardless of circumstances. When a man finds himself near a breastfeeding woman and feeling uncontrollably aroused, he should behave in a civilized manner, and refrain from staring or commenting. No problem, no excuese. At the beach, many men are aroused by the sight of bikini-clad women, but most do not comment or stare. Maybe it doesn’t have to be a black and white (sexual/non-sexual) situation – let’s admit that many men WILL uncontrollably feel arousal at the sight of a woman’s breast, even in an unsexual (baby-feeding) situation. But let’s also not pretend that men aren’t completely capable of dealing with themselves and behaving respectfully. And yes, the more “non-sexual” breast sightings a man experiences, the more he will integrate that into his overall psyche, and learn that women’s bodies do not always have to be sexualized.

  29. Kingsley Nze

    First of all, Im a guy/gentleman. I have had the privilege of looking at this same issue from two culturally different perspectives, since I grew up in Nigeria, West Africa, and moved to Canada, N. America. In Africa, a woman breastfeeding in public is almost considered a sacred act, thus it is well respected and not offensive unlike in N.A. In my opinion, the hypersexuality and sexual objectification of the female breasts in N.A. is the biggest reason why most N.As find public breastfeeding offensive. Until this sexual outlook changes, N.As will still experience this pushback on public breastfeeding.
    This is a great article, thank you for refuting the negative views on the topic

  30. Anonymous

    I’m not a mother yet, but I am a 24 year old female. I don’t see why it is unreasonable to ask people not to reveal their boobs in public? If we were in France or a nude beach, that would be one thing. But, for whatever reason you want to expose your boobs, in the US it is not culturally acceptable to reveal them in public. And for anyone to say boobs are not sexual objects, I would seriously ask you if your baby’s father didn’t enjoy them in the making of that baby lol. I mean.. it’s just common courtesy that boobs are part of the woman’s body that should be covered up? (For the record, I agree that victoria’s secret ads and certain scenes in movies, and billboard posts are also inappropriate). The problem here is not that the baby is feeding. Obviously, no one would ask you to cover up the baby or a bottle or whatever because they’re eating, but the problem is the boobs. They are not supposed to be out in public. And to the comments saying “just don’t look then”.. that’s not so easy when you’re in the children’s park or the lobby of a business or a place like that where a woman is breastfeeding right by you and you have to be there in the room. Why can’t you schedule your day that your baby feeds when you’re at home? Or even just in your car or a private room somewhere? Obviously it makes some people uncomfortable which is why this “negativity” exists. People aren’t trying to stop you from feeding your baby, but they just don’t want to be forced to see your boobs in public when they’re going about their day. I don’t mean to be rude, but I really can’t understand why that would be an overly negative position to take.

  31. Douglas Naaden

    I didn’t find this article very compelling. (And the reason they call it breast feeding, is because babies go through different stages of feeding. Breastfed, bottle-fed, spoon-fed…all baby feeding is not the same.)

    Sure it’s easier for mom and baby not to cover up, but no one was ever pretending that you are covering up to make breastfeeding easier for mom & baby.

    And the “if you don’t like it don’t look” argument is dumb. Why is that type of argument so in vogue these days? If you don’t like abortion, don’t get one.If you don’t like porn, don’t watch it. Really? It’s just an indicator of how much the author of such statements is missing the point.

    She makes some good points, but the most obvious point about any covering up, the issue of public modesty, she glances over. Our culture sexualizes breasts. Just because you use them for a non-sexual purpose, doesn’t mean showing your breasts in public isn’t sexualized. You know what else isn’t sexual? Peeing. It’s just peeing. Why doesn’t she champion that, too? All the same reasoning would apply.
    I’ve been around a lot of nursing moms, all of whom covered up. I just thought it was normal to breastfeed in public and to cover up while doing so. It was never a big deal. It seems like all these types of for/against breastfeeding crap is making a mountain out of a molehill. For the handful of times you’re in public with an infant, cover up and everyone can just shut up about the topic already.

  32. Anonymous

    I am just curious why we still feel the need to continue writing articles about this. I have yet to have anyone tell me or anyone I know who breastfed to stop or that’s inappropriate. I feel like articles like this are what continue making an issue where there isn’t really issues anymore. And even if breastfeeding makes me feel uncomfortable (I was the one breastfeeding my child under a “awful and horrendous” cover), I really don’t know why I have to agree with every single opinion someone has. I am one of those women who finds the African women on the covers of magazines to make me feel uncomfortable. When I watched the movie “babies,” it bugged me when I watched children go up to any woman who was free and take a sip. I didn’t like doing it in front of people without a cover. Oh my goodness, I am an awful and horrible person! Would I ever tell someone to stop? Absolutely not. But in my heart of hearts, that’s how I feel. And guess what – that’s OK. Last time I checked, I was still entitled to my feelings.

  33. Michelle R.

    I wish someone had told me this 14 years ago. I had a difficult time with breast feeding, felt guilty for having such a difficult time, plus, felt so conscious about breastfeeding whenever people were around b/c they (family) wanted me to cover up all the time for their sake. I barely lasted a couple of months of breastfeeding for each of my kids. Wish I could have a do over.

  34. Tim Brandt

    Women, you have NO RIGHT to comment on sexual thoughts in men’s minds because you are NOT MEN, and you will NEVER be men! End of story! Men are visually stimulated, and you are NOT (nearly as much). You know this, but some images are hard to get rid of, and nursing moms are no exception. For the men trying to remain completely pure in mind, please do them a favor, and be as discrete as reasonably possible while nursing in public.

  35. Stacy

    I’ll add my name to the list of mothers who had an infant that HATED the nursing cover (it was too hot under there for my July baby, I guess). Also, I’m not sure what all this “boob flashing” is about; when I put my baby on to nurse *I* barely see my nipple/breast, so how the heck are others even noticing it? I mean really, the only thing they might notice is that the hungry baby has stopped screaming.

  36. Elizabeth Hall

    As a mom of 3 breastfed kids thank you for educating people! By number 3 I’m a lot more relaxed with bf in public but because of the stares I get I usually cover up. I am proud to still be nursing my 25 month old however the latest comments I get is ” isn’t that child too old to be breast feeding?” I usually reapond with ” do you know the world wide average for weaning is 4 years old” that usually shuts them up!

  37. Kelsey Gray

    This was so great and SO true! I know men personally who ogle women, but find breastfeeding in public repulsive. That chaps my hide. And for those of you who think we should excuse ourselves in a restaurant. Where should we go, the car? Should we leave the company and conversation. Other people should be enjoying their food and their company and not staring at a baby nursing! And it can be done so discreetly! Even without a nursing cover. I’ve nursed 3 kids. I slouch down a little, pull my shirt up, let the baby latch, and go on with my dinner and conversation. Usually, NO ONE NOTICES! If I have a button up shirt and the top of my breast is exposed, I might throw a burp rag over the skin, but not over the baby. They get used to nursing uncovered at home all the time, they hate being covered in public. They are just eating.

  38. Lesley Wotton

    I breastfed all 4 of my babies, and did so in public many times. I remember once, when I was at my father-in-laws house, breastfeeding my 2 month old daughter. A family member came right up to me and started looking at her, saying how beautiful she was and he was right by her face. I was like…okay. Then he noticed that I was breastfeeding and turned red and apologized, LOL The whole point is that I did not cover up with a cloth, but obviously was covered enough for him not to notice until he got really close. Breastfeeding in public should not even be an issue, geesh! It always amazes me how people can see more than half naked people at the mall, and yet when a woman breastfeeds those same people get all squimish. Great article, I am going to share it with my daughter in law.

  39. Ashley Holcombe

    I read several comments(but not all) and one thing that I do to avoid having my stomach/side/back hanging out it wear a stretchy camisole/tank top underneath my shirt. I can pull my outer shirt up and the under shirt down. My areolas are large and baby’s mouth/face doesn’t hide the whole of it, so I am self conscious about that and do try to drape a muslin swaddling blanket when possible. At 7 months old he plays with the blanket quite a bit. It is an amazing accomplishment to me to be this far along with no formula. At this same point with my daughter my supply was dried up. I had been afraid of nursing in public, and didn’t have the same access to information and assistance. Had no idea regarding different sized shields to pump with, foods to eat to keep supply, or how to work through a nursing strike. Never did I ever think I would be pumping milk in my parents’ living room before work every day! We all just want to do what is best for our children and what works for our family. If we didn’t stop to feed our baby in public we would get the side eye or “the look” for having a fussing crying baby. That’s a lose-lose scenario until society as a whole views baby feeding in any form as a normal natural part of daily life. As someone else commented the best way for that to happen is to teach the children who will grow into adults.

  40. Anonymous

    Great article! I loved your thoughtful and thorough responses to so many comments. I am a mother of three (youngest is 10yrs), and did not breastfeed any of them for longer than a week because I had such a hard time covering up. Doing it in public seemed like it just wasn’t an option for me. I never thought it was right for society to shun breastfeeding mothers, but I didn’t know so many people felt the same way. This article is very encouraging. I am pregnant with our fourth…I just might give it a shot this time:). Thank you!

  41. Anonymous

    Being a women, and still grossed out by the fact. I DO NOT want to see that while I am eating, nor hear the noises that happens. I understand the pros of it but what about making the people around uncomfortable…

  42. Anonymous

    I “fed” 3 kids. I covered up, because to me, it is an intimate time with my child. I don’t need the “perverts” staring, and other peoples kids staring (because they WILL, they are kids!). Here’s the thing, IF you can breast feed, do it. This controversy of covering up or not is getting ridiculous. If you want it to hang out (and it will), then do it, but know that you WILL get backlash from people – mean glances/inappropriate looks/hateful words/ etc — if that doesn’t bother you, then go for it. If you feel like you need to whip out your boob to feed your baby because a light cover is too much to use, then be prepared for society.

    I have had several friends that could NOT feed their children …. IT IS A BONDING MOMENT. It’s nothing like holding your child’s hand – horrible comparison. You are giving your child LIFE. Just like we don’t broadcast our birthing moments, feeding our children with our bodies shouldn’t be either. These are LIFE giving moments. They should be cherished, remembered, honored, by the mother, it’s really no-one else is business because no-one else can do it.

    And feeding your baby is NOTHING like wearing a swimsuit. Come on ! IF women are wearing swimsuits to show nipple – THEY WILL BE frowned upon. Woman that breastfeed have very little control of when the baby detaches or attaches, nipple viewing is almost guaranteed. If you know this, why do you thinking showing your breast in public is ok? In the USA we don’t have nudity privileges like other countries, if you want that, you should move or vote for change.

    You are feeding your baby. Something some woman can’t do. Something some woman can’t wait to do. Cherish it, don’t share it.

    You have your opinion and this is mine.

  43. Anonymous

    I know this is going to get some criticism but here it is anyway. And let it be known that I am currently a breastfeeding mother. I HATE the arrogance and selfishness of the breastfeeding mama. It does make some people uncomfortable and YOU don’t get to decide what makes people feel the way that they do. But you want it all your way and you will throw a temper tantrum when asked to cover up, call in your other bf mamas and stage a breastfeeding sit in because YOU made someone uncomfortable. Where is the compromise. In every situation there is compromise and you have been offered plenty but you won’t take it. You sound like a demanding little 2 year old. MY WAY MY WAY MY WAY. Get over yourself and figure out a way to coexist. I have and I’m not nearly as stressed out about breastfeeding in public because I’m not looking to be combative.

  44. Anonymous

    This may have already been mentioned, I admittedly didn’t read every comment. I am an avid nurser–three babies so far. I cover myself up when I nurse because I want to, not because I should. If we, as a culture, believe nipples are sexual and therefore must be covered in public, we mustn’t allow men to expose their nipples either. Afterall, theirs hold absolutely no biological function.

  45. Anonymous

    We all come from different backgrounds with different views. You can’t force everyone into your world-view, although at times that would be nice. But in reality, each person has their own forms of aversion, and in a world where we are allowed to be individuals, you have to allow people to have their own opinions. Believe me, that makes a better world… I do like being able to give my own opinion, and people should be intelligent enough to accept or debate it. No problems with that.

    But concerning breastfeeding directly… We live in a materialistic culture where sex is a major icon, along with money and power (I would say that’s kind of a bad thing on our culture’s part, but that’s just how it is in today and age, though it’s probably been like that since the dawn of mankind…). You can’t deny that sex has permeated several aspects of our culture, including but not limited to advertising, media, and the arts. With that in mind, there is a level of stigma about particular forms of dress, attitude, and, of course, certain aspects of the body as well. In a world bent on self-gratification and a philosophy of “do what makes you feel good” as well as “have it your way” (referencing Burger King’s slogan), this kind of culture breeds some pretty strange fetishes and a desire to fulfill one’s lusts.

    With all of that stated, the stigma created by a sexually aware and driven culture, causes sexual tension when references to these stigmas are made. So for guys, seeing a lady flashing breasts, even if it’s for feeding a baby, is a trigger for arousal. This is mostly ingrained through society. If he doesn’t want this, then these feelings just become embarrassment instead. I believe the same repulsion could be applied for scenarios where someone observes what they consider an unattractive person. They don’t want to have an image in their mind that disturbs their view of beauty. By the way, my viewpoint is from a male perspective. So I’m not sure how this could apply from the opposite sex of course…

    Also, not sure if this was brought up, and I’m sure this will create some controversy, but I’ll mention it anyways. Since this topic is about private areas, and in one comment, someone mentioned using breasts for its primary function, how different would it be for a guy urinating in public, but was doing so discreetly? Having to defecate is entirely opposite of breastfeeding, and I’m not saying they should be treated similarly, but since the topic went over culture in opposition to showing breasts in public, I’m just wondering if people would make a distinction between these two, and how dramatic that distinction would be. Just a thought…

  46. KAT

    I have DDD breasts and choose to breastfeed in the car or at home because it’s IMPOSSIBLE to feed without two hands and coverage during attachment is impossible. I think it’s great when women can feed in public and do it modestly with little exposure. But would everyone on this page be as understanding of my with my 36 DDD breast fully exposed because when I lift my shirt my boob is literally 3X as big as everyone else’s. Please discuss…

    1. Anonymous

      If it helps, mine are 42G, and I have no compunctions whatsoever about feeding my babies wherever we happened to be. I found some cute nursing camis that clip at the top and nursing tops that have slits in them so that most of my boob stays covered while I feed, so it is possible to be modest without a blanket even with oversized endowments. It just requires a little thought.

  47. Jack Richter

    I personally think that most women do not do this modestly enough. There are laws against public nudity, and if all women did this modestly it would not be an issue. But some women show so much of themselves and flaunt it. If you can’t go to the beach nude, and you can’t walk around nude, why can you sit in restaurants and expose yourself? I think these women who just flop their ta tas out and bear it all “To feed a baby”, but then are offended at other public acts of nude or lewd behavior. Either we need to lower our judgement of people nude on the streets and beaches, or hold breast feeding in the same resolve.

  48. Charley Crummett

    I never like the cover up thing, nor did i feel comfortable.just whipping it out, especially in front of say, my husbands friends. For my own comfort i went to another room, or the car, where i could be comfortable. I dont mind if other people do it. Their buisness, their boob. But heres an example of what i think is not ok.seen i was at the doctors office , where a mother of about a four yr old, let her titties just hang out, both of them…shirt pulled.up around her neck out, no bra out, and let this four yr old.go off and play, then come back and suckle, then off to play…etc etc. I was astonished and embarrassed for myself and her and everyone around us. It was the carziest thing ive ever seen!

  49. Barbara Bell

    Although I usually covered up at least a little bit whenever I nursed our 6 kids in a public place such as a restaurant, I eagerly look forward to the day when nursing a baby in public in N. America is as calmly accepted by everyone here as it was in Japan, where our second child was born in 1981. In those days if a man walked into the room when i was nursing, you can bet I swathed myself in baby blankets from shoulders to waist lest anything be visible. Sorry, lady, but from my experience all Japanese people know what is going on under that blanket! The man in question would (if he noticed me at all) watch briefly with mild interest before asking (while patting himself on the chest–I was a foreigner, after all, and might not understand words) “Only mothers’ milk?”– that is, was the child only breastfed or was he receiving supplemental bottle feedings as well? Women, of course, would ask as well, but I wasn’t used to having my breastfeeding being noticed by MEN in this casual way. And this was in a country where movie posters on every street corner in town showed images of half-naked women. For some reason, the Japanese of those days hadn’t quite gotten around to thinking that breastfeeding a baby in public had any associations with pornography. I hope they still feel that way. It was quite refreshing.

  50. Anonymous

    I know I am not the cool hippy on this subject, but I don’t want to see you slurp down a sandwich any old place either. I don’t understand why it is so hard to eat, poop, or do any bodily function where it is appropriate. And to her point, I don’t usually see anyone bottle feeding kids in public either. I know, I am a total uncool person, but I really don’t want to watch burping (which becomes vomiting) either. Just because your boob is there, and the baby is there, doesn’t mean we all want to watch it. Sorry.

  51. AnotherGoldfish

    Wow, I never realised I was vulgar. I’m afraid I’m one of those nursing mums who whipped it out for every feed…my little boy had an undiagnoised tongue-tie and it was a nightmare trying to get him latched properly (even after it was cut), often taking three or four tries. It was a fight everyday to keep breastfeeding, and worrying what other people though just never entered my head. We only made it 15 weeks before we had to give up.

    I even breastfeed at my Grandfather’s funeral, though I can’t have been that bad – the priest stopped me on the way out to bless my son, and he only noticed he was feeding at the last minute. (That was a little embarrassing.)

  52. azSAHM81

    The funny thing I noticed about most of the “I shouldn’t have to see that” comments is that if read out of sequence, their arguments for how selfish it is to expect people to accommodate you even if it makes them uncomfortable, are indistinguishable as being for or against breastfeeding in public. In short, they feel their desire to be comfortable trumps a breastfeeding mom’s desire to be comfortable. It’s really a laughable argument, especially since one desire of comfort is born out of a twisted societal view of what a woman’s body is for, and the other is born out of a need to feed an nourish a small human that relies on you for everything.

    In regard to the people who don’t want their sons or husbands seeing my breast while I’m feeding my baby:
    My husband has seen my breasts. He loves my breasts. Playing with them was included in the process which caused my babies to be conceived in the first place. If my husband, who has seen, felt, and otherwise enjoyed my breasts in a sexual way, can avoid getting sexually aroused while I’m feeding our child, I’m sure your husband, who has not physically enjoyed them, can control himself. I’m sure your son, who at 14 has probably never felt one, can be taught to control himself. Yes, my breasts are fabulous, especially when engorged with milk, but if seeing my baby feed on them does not distinguish them from fun-bags being flaunted intentionally for sexual purposes, then maybe you, your husband, and your son require some form of counseling.

    1. Anonymous

      Honestly, most of the selfishness (and I’m including your comment in this generalization) comes from breastfeeding mothers such as yourself. YOU are so selfish that you cant seem to see that anyone else has an opinion that matters more than yours. Sad.

    2. azSAHM81

      I selfishly want to feed my child. You selfishly want me to hide my child while I’m feeding it because you’re uncomfortable or insecure about my breasts. I’m not sure that makes me the sad one, but you’re certainly entitled to your opinion.

    3. Anonymous

      I never said you need to hide. But you can be descreet and modest. I have rights to not have your “funbags” as you call them not me, even though they might be fabulous, in my face. There is a difference. And because I am entitled to my opinion, that happens to differ from yours, does not mean that I need any form of counseling. That is the sort of anger that i”m talking about. You are so determined that you are in the right because you have milk bearing breasts, that you don’t take consideration for any one else’s feelings. (There is anger counseling available, you might want to check into THAT)

      This is the last I will say, because no matter what, you feel like you are entitled because you gave birth. (lets not even start the topic of overpopulation in a country that can barely keep its head up). Good luck with your breastfeeding, and work on that anger.

    4. azSAHM81

      Covering my breast while I feed requires covering my child. If you notice, I referred to them as fun-bags while commenting on someone’s inability to separate me feeding my child from intentionally sexualising them, and I never said they should be in your face.

      I never said you needed counseling because your opinion was different, but merely suggested it might be useful if breasts used for sexual purposes and breasts being used to feed an infant were indistinguishable for you.

      I’m not sure what, if anything I said, implied I was angry. I also never said that having milk bearing breasts made me right. What I said is that feeding a baby is more important than someones insecurities about breasts. It probably doesn’t need to be said, but I’ll say it anyway, I certainly believe that feeding a child is more important than someone’s feelings about how I do that. Also, if Anger counseling is indeed what I needed, I’m sure it would not have anything to do with having no consideration for other’s feelings. That’s more apathy than anger.

      I honestly, based on what you have said, think that you are probably bitter for many reasons. Maybe you have fertility issues, breastfeeding issues, (supply, not modesty), and definitely those anger issues you are projecting onto me. I truly hope you are able to eventually see them for what they are and get the help you so obviously need. :o)

  53. Anonymous

    For those that can breastfeed, good for you. But why do your rights matter more than mine? And yes I know the author will argue, b/c she has shown that she refuses to look at any other side. But honestly, why do you matter more than me?? Because thats all I’ve read in these comments. Your right to feed in public is more important that my right to not be uncomfortable.

    Recently I was at a restaurant where someone breastfed right in the middle of the room. It was a very fussy one, was obviously not a happy about something so she was trying to calm him down and feed him, which he wanted nothing to do with. My daughter was mortified b/c this woman’s breast was hanging out as the child squirmed and the mother was trying to get him to latch on. So my daughter had to sit with her eyes at her plate, b/c if she looked up this woman was in her line of sight. When I later went to the rest room, there was a lovely sitting room (you actually went thru a set of doors, there were some loveseats, and you had to go thru another set of doors to get to the lavetories). Why could she not comfort her child in a quieter setting?? Why was her right to bare her breast more impportant that my childs right to look up from her plate? My daughter knows what she was doing, but she is in the point in her life where she is hitting puberty and she was just mortified.

    So please, explain to me why your rights to breastfeed are more important that my rights to not have it forced on me. The ARE options where you can choose to be modest but instead so many want to force it on others, and mainly to proove a point that you CAN. And the fact that you can’t think of others, only yourself, makes me sad for our future.

  54. Anonymous

    for reals. the way breast are displayed these days. nursing in public is nothing. leave the nursing moms alone.

  55. Anonymous

    Why is it appropriate to go to new orleans during mardi gras..and tons of women hang there bare breasts over balconies. .stand n the street with boobs out..flashing them to the parade of folks and floats tossing out beads? People from all over the u.s. go there..and participate n this event. Women get rewarded with beads..party favors and alcohol for exposing the breast during that event. So why should a mother…who is innocently feeding her child whos hungry get looked at in disgust? This society has made it acceptable to have women and their bodies used as nothing but a sexually drawn piece of artwork of flesh for the mans eye. It was made to create life. .sustain life…nourish the life it created. ..and give birth to new life every day. People need to grow up and stop beibg perverts. This isnt middle school stuff where u experience your first boner. Feeding a child is what breasts are naturally made for. Not to feed some mans perverse image of something sexual he would like to suck on.

  56. Anonymous

    I am currently nursing 2 babes. A 3 mo old and an 18 mo old. I usually cover up( unless I forget my cover) but inevitably any children around want to look under the cover and see what’s going on. It’s so sweet. My nieces (3 and 6 ) love watching the babies nurse, they pat his head and it just seems really normal and natural to them. My husband has been so much more supportive of breastfeeding than I was with myself. I was afraid to breastfeed, thinking it was sexual and I was going to have a boy. But I did it despite those concerns. And you know what? My mind has been completely blown by the innocence of a child and the beauty of breastfeeding. I wouldn’t change it for the world. I love hearing the words ” Please nurse” from my toddler. It’s beautiful.

  57. Amanda Barr

    This is an interesting debate that actually spreads wider than whether or not women should over up while feeding from the breast. My first 2 kids are adopted, and they were bottle fed. I got nastier looks from strangers while mixing those bottles in public than I’ve ever seen any of my nursing friends get. I’m currently pregnant with our third child and planning on nursing and have become sensitive to the reception nursing moms get in public. My conclusion is that it doesn’t matter how you feed your baby in public, people will always shoot you dirty looks and demand to know why you’re not doing it some other way (as if it’s any business of theirs). The broader issue is that it’s somehow wrong to feed your baby in public at all. If you’re bottle feeding, you’re doing it wrong because that baby should be nursing. If you’re nursing without covering up, you’re doing it wrong because you’re obviously an exhibitionist. If you’re nursing covered up, you’re doing it wrong because you’re perpetuating the skewed view that nursing is somehow shameful. All mothers feeding their babies (regardless of the method they choose) need to be supported.

  58. Perki

    Even though this article was very well written, and I know many many women/men will agree 100%….I just am not comfortable with it. I’m sorry, please don’t throw tomatoes at me and boo me off stage. I don’t think my feelings makes me a bad person, or a horrible person, or even an anomaly. It very simply makes me uncomfortable. Doesn’t everyone have a right to their own opinion? Does that make me wrong for the way that I feel about an exposed breast in public, no matter what the reasoning is? Why don’t we all simply try to respect one another? Don’t belittle someone who is vocal about their public nursing and don’t belittle someone who is uncomfortable about it. Half of the people in my life are supportive of it, and the other half are not. No need to look down on either party. Women have just as much right to nurse publicly in this country as women have the right to vocally express their opinions against it. Just a thought.

  59. vbowman

    Thanks for speaking out on the hassle of covering up. I breastfed my 2nd child anywhere and everywhere. I was new to it and could never handle wiggly, hungry baby, or worse hungry MAD baby AND a blanket. He would NEVER take a bottle or even a pacifier. He continued to refuse bottles (of breast milk) even when I went back to work! Fortunately, I was able to go back part-time and keep nursing him until he was almost 3yrs old. I began by feeling embarrassed and ended up coming round to Annie’s point of view. If you don’t want to see me feed my baby, just don’t look! The newest controversy over a mom feeding her fussy baby during her own graduation ceremony just tells me we still have a long way to go.

  60. Anonymous

    I thought I was totally comfortable with this. I grew up seeing my mom breast feed and you totally couldn’t see anything. Then my best friend had a baby. You know what? Her breasts are kind of large. You can see a LOT of breast when she does it. It is uncomfortable. I’m not used to seeing that much breast around and it is kinda hard to chat with her while she’s doing it and not get a big ole eye-full of breast and, because her baby keeps unlatching and relatching, nipple.

    This isn’t to hate on moms who breastfeed in public. Babies get hungry and obviously, even though it’s awkward, I do sit around with my besty while she’s breastfeeding sans cover. I just don’t think it’s quite as goofy as you make out.

  61. Kelly

    Thank you for writing the article. I never thought of some of these points before, and yes, I would have to agree that if any of my children are going to have exposure to breasts- then I rather it be the natural ways and not Hollywood’s demented ideas.
    I also have 3 children. One is still a newborn and the other two, I breastfed until 11-12 months.
    I always covered up, except once. It was with my first, and we were at a water park. Everyone around us was in the average beachwear you see at waterparks. I figured I would just feed my baby and let down my strap slightly to let her feed. No one was really around where we set up our chairs anyhow.
    As my husband (super supportive, awesome man) came up, he asked me to cover up. It dawned on me, more now than then. What I was showing could lead other males to dirty thoughts. Am I responsible for how they think?- Goodness, no. However, my thoughtful husband who has a trained eye to size up people and our surroundings for nations defense for a living, could tell that what I was doing was not wrong in the least, however, the people around us were. There are crazies out there- and sometimes seeing something that is innocent, becomes overboard for them. It is like being smart about bathtub photos of your kids- these days, I just wouldn’t post something like that. I don’t want to give the opportunity to the pervert to look at my children that way. I also don’t want to give the pervert the opportunity to look at me feeding my baby that way.
    I do always wear a cover, I have one that has binding on top so I can see into my baby and have the eye contact I want, and the ventilation that helps ease the hot sweaty issue. It loops around my neck so as baby gets older, he can’t pull it off.
    Another reason I think my husband guards the issue, is because that area of my chest is for my baby, and also the pleasure of my husband. It is meant for my current infant and him and I. That’s it. I don’t want to share that with others.
    Now, this is me personally, I am typically the person that just loves clothing, modesty. I have a 3 year old that would be as happy as a lark to join the nudist colony. So I understand not all mommas are built the same way. I do sometimes openly breastfed- normally in the first weeks of ‘trying to just be awake is an accomplishment’- phase. On the same token, I don’t mind being around women who do breastfeed without covers- but I am uncomfortable around them if my husband is there. Men are wired differently then woman and I think it is good to lay down boundaries in a society that doesn’t seem to embrace any at this time.
    It would be great if our culture was much more pure in sexuality and rearing children into adults. However, since our culture has so many messed up ideas of what a woman is, I am going to keep covering up. For personal preference but also to help the men around us out- one less thing to pull them away from looking at their own wives.
    (Oh- and at the grocery store, I always turn those magazines around – I have a cart full of innocent eyes and a great man standing by my side…. maybe I will slip this article in their place, ;) Changing the world one intentional thought at a time.

  62. Anonymous

    It is disappointing that some people on both sides of this issue are so judgmental and hateful towards each other. Every mother has the right to raise her children as she chooses. Moms are just doing the best they can! However, it is also understandable that other people are uncomfortable with exposed breasts. Please respect each other’s opinions and be kind to one another.

  63. Anonymous

    How were nursing children breastfed in all the years up to now? And why is there so much of a fuss now about it?

  64. Johanna Love

    As a Breastfeeding Advocate, and a Nursing On Demand Mum of 4 Love Babies (Tandem Nursing Our 2.5 y.o and 1 mos old currently) I absolutely LOVE this article! Ty for Posting it. We don’t believe in Bottles or Binkies, We follow Baby Led Solids (meaning Breast only and solids starting AFTER Nursing 1st, After 1 y/o) and Baby Led Weaning (meaning Our kids stop Nursing on Demand when they are ready, that is however long they wish to nurse.. I fully support ALL Mums whom Nurse like we do, uncovered, anytime, any place. Its not to “show off our boobs” its to FEED Our Babies! Whenever Our Babies are Hungry.
    We need to support fellow NIP(Nursing in Public) Mums and not make them feel as if they are doing something wrong by fulfilling the needs of their babies. Granted its going to take some time to re-train the mindsets of others in social situations, SADLY! But none of us Nursing Mums are going to stop Nursing Our Babies just because some closed minded people get offended. They need to learn to not gawk so much at a Mum Nursing her baby and just remove themselves away or avert their eyes.
    Nursing IS Natural & Beautiful! All around Perfect! Precious! and thee Most Cherished Bonding moment for a Mum and Her Nurslings. Nothing bad or shameful about it in any way!

    Stay Strong Fellow Nursing Mums. Your doing thee most Beautiful thing for Your Babies/Toddlers. Great Job!
    #SuperMums #BIB(Breast is Best) #NIP #NurseOn #HappyNurslingHappyMum ♡♡

  65. Samia El-Moslimany

    I routinely breastfed in public in Saudi Arabia, AND in mixed company, with nary a comment from anyone. The only time I ever had an issue was at a dinner in a private home with a number of our couple friends. My six month old was happily nursing with barely a half inch of my boobie showing, when my friend, concerned about the sensitivities of her husband, rushed over and threw a napkin over my baby’s head. He was so startled that he immediately detached with a loud sucking POP! He began flailing his arms and gasping for breath as if he was drowning, and in the process my entire breast was exposed!

  66. Katelyn Jones

    I think this article is fantastic!!! Another comment I have heard more than once is, ” She is doing it so the guys all look at her.” As if that is all a breastfeeding mother thinks about, is men ogling her breasts. All the negative comments about breastfeeding stem from the same negative comments about rape victims. ” They deserved it because they just showed off all their stuff” “Maybe if they dressed more appropriately, it wouldn’t have happened” ” They were asking for it” ” She has her boobs hanging out for everyone to see. She knew what reaction that would cause, so she got what she was obviously asking for.” All of these can be quoted from society about people and breastfeeding mothers and rape victims. We live in a sad sad world, and need more people like this to write articles like this more until breastfeeding is accepted in public!!! Men are pigs with simple thoughts. I say that as a happily married woman to my soul mate. He is a pig. He sees a very small, tight, cute bathing suit on a stranger at the beach, he has to look and check her out. Men are ruled by their dicks, and it is sad that we women are the ones that get yelled at, talked down to, made to feel degraded, because we showcase our bodies in ways that make us feel confident and sexy. We are the ones who get ridiculed for things like breastfeeding in public, when how is what a man thinks our problem when all we want to do is feed our children? And to the people who say that ” Yes breastfeeding has been around a long time but it wasn’t done in public.” Go back and relearn your history. Women breastfed in public, they did, even in the past. No, probably not when we were first settling here, but back then women wore dresses that covered their legs, arms, chest, and neck to prevent any sexual thoughts from arising just at the sight of her body. If today, a 15 year old girl can go to the beach in two pieces of cloth that show everything but barely covers her barely developed breast, then why can’t a woman feed her child in public? I applaud mothers who feed in public as it shows confidence, true love of their child, and tells society to screw off if they don’t like it!

  67. Mommy Melissa

    I am going to be a slightly divergent voice here. I love the article, I have helped many many women learn to feed their babies as an OB nurse. I am not scared or ashamed of the breast used for feeding in any way, but there are times when I have covered up for my own reasons. There have been just as many, if not more times that I haven’t, but we need to be careful not to shame women who choose to cover up while feeding. There are those who are more comfortable just not exposing or risking exposing themselves for even a brief moment, and that’s ok too. And accessories for breastfeeding have come a long way, it is much easier to cover up when you need/want to with a cute nursing cover. Especially in the beginning, when mom and baby are still getting the hang of it, there may be times that for certain women they only way they can relax enough to feed their baby in public is by covering up. Let’s just acknowledge that every woman has different comfort levels, and we shouldn’t shame any lactating mother for how she makes it work.

  68. Anonymous

    I am and a mom and more importantly, a grandmother. When I had my children, I tried with each one to feed my children. I had no support system and no one there to show me how. I was a military wife and far from home. My son (my first) was a lazy eater and did not want to work to get his food, so we were pretty much doomed from the beginning. Contrary to popular belief, I did not even know how to change a diaper, and we survived that learning process. When my second child came along, my grandmother came to visit and “help” me, when she saw me trying to feed my daughter the only thing that she said was, “Campbell women do not make enough milk to feed a baby, so give up.” I stop once again. My last child was born six years later, and this time, I was a woman on a mission, I was going to do it. We made it three months, and her doctor demanded that I supplement the feeding as she was not thriving. Once again, I was shot down before we made any headway. Those two daughters have grown up and begun to build their own families, and feed their children. One chose to utilize a cover, because she was more comfortable that way. She nursed up until her son was two, but because to dental issues, they had to make the very difficult choice of weaning early, but she has been supportive of her younger sister who is still nursing her now 13 month old. The younger daughter refuses the use of a cover, as does her son. She is a full time college student and had to learn to pump, so I could feed him while she was away. The greatest difference here has been the support network that they have in place, their mates, the hospital, facebook, and some doctors, although we did have one instance where we had to take the little one to the emergency room, and one of the doctors threatened to call CPS on her because he wasn’t “fat and chubby” like babies are supposed to be. She stood her ground and they backed off, thank goodness the pediatrician was there to back her up. Thinking needs to change on many levels, not just with males, other women also. We as a society as quick to judgment and negativity. We have all the evidence in front of us to show that allowing babies to be “fat and chubby” helps to make “fat and chubby” adults. Babies eat when babies need to eat, they do not eat on a schedule. The habits that are taught at birth are what make us as adults. If we learn to eat when we are hungry, we carry that forward through life, and we may eat every couple of hours, but we will only eat small meals that are healthier for us, instead of the gluttonous meals that society seems to think is better for us. It begins day one… I love when I am out with my girls and they are feeding their children and someone else says something supportive. We need to be more supportive of each other…

    1. Annie Reneau

      I love your comment, and agree with everything except one teeny point. All three of my babies were unbelievably fat and chubby. Exclusively breastfed until they were 8 months, all fed on demand, all rolls and chunka lunkas. They slimmed right up as they started walking. I just make super fatty milk. So just be careful not to judge a fat and chubby baby by its appearance, that’s all. Thank you for your supportive comment!

  69. Anonymous

    We live in a civilization. I don’t pull my boobs out and walk around and I don’t want to see yours. I don’t care if a baby is about to put its mouth on it, it is gross to see. I am glad you feel comfortable with it, but have respect for those who don’t. You don’t need to cover yourself, just go to a private place. I am so sick of people going on and on about what is natural and what they think is right. In a civilized society not everything is about what you like and what is natural. Follow social guidelines or I will be one of the people giving you the look to say you need to cover that nastiness up.

    1. Anonymous

      The requirements of civilization do not include non-public breastfeeding. I’ve taught history at universities, and I can promise you that when we discuss the development of the world’s first civilizations and how we can recognize a group or people living together as a civilization with a culture, display of breasts is not part of the equation. You can have civilization and still have public breastfeeding. Heck, most of the world does and America did too until the 1950s.

  70. Anonymous

    I often wonder how people who are opposed to the topic find these articles in the first place.

    I must also add, I’m in the 1%. Sometimes I do babyfeed in public to make a “statement”. A statement to other moms that it’s allowed and ok, and they can do it too if they want to. I have benefited from seeing other moms model the behavior, and so my hope is always that, in addition to meeting my baby’s needs, I can pay forward the wonderful example that others have set for me.

  71. Lauren Hillin

    Thank you for this well written piece. I have def been on the side of modesty and covering up but mostly due to my husband not wanting me to expose myself. If I was alone I normally would find a spot alone to nurse. I nursed 19 months 14 of which I did outside th house. I am pregnant again. I am def changing my attitude towards not covering up all the time to bf after reading this article. I’ll share this with my husband to see if he will put his modesty issues aside. He is so modest with his own body and he is the same with mine. But you have so many great valid points! Thank you.

  72. intrigued

    I think its awesome to hear from a guy who supports breastfeeding. Many men are involved with/around it. My husband very much supports it and isn’t bothered one bit if he sees a baby nursing. If not for his encouragement I wouldn’t have gotten through the newborn breastfeeding stage. And trust me-he doesn’t “hide” anything about his penis lol :)

  73. Anonymous

    This is a fabulous article. I was a breastfed baby. My son was unfortunately for a very short time. He was in the NICU and had to be supplemented then wouldn’t relatch. I think this article should be taught in schools. Right along with sex ed so every child hears it. Unfortunately, there is a small percentage of woman who BF for the wrong reasons. I have a friend of the family who would take her breast out, then walk across the room to get her baby from whomever was holding it. That was obviously for attention. We were also holding a bible study at our home where she exclaimed “dont bite” to an infant with no teeth. These type of breastfeeding situations ruin it for everyone else. Luckily it hasn’t tainted it for our family and we can recognize her stupidity and realize it isn’t the normal. I applaud your article and will be keeping on hand for when the lord blesses up with baby number 2!

  74. Dale Brown

    I am a 75-year-old man. I believe that my mother chose breast-feeding as first-choice (for all six of us boys) as did most women in my small town in that time. I was never traumatized by seeing babies being fed in public. My wife was unable to breastfeed any of our three, although she tried. Two of my three daughters breastfed in public, one now assists other mothers in “learning the ropes.” My third daughter would gladly have breast-fed if she had been able to have children of her own. (She is now a happy adoptive mother.) I see women breast-feeding in public from time to time, and I simply try to ignore it, not to keep ME from feeling uncomfortable, but to keep HER from feeling uncomfortable. There are undoubtedly many more that I don’t notice. I recently was in a business meeting when I suddenly realized that the young mother to my left was breastfeeding, with a cover over her baby. I assume she covered up to keep ME from feeling uncomfortable. Many people think of the act as “unnatural,” whereas it’s obviously as natural as it could possibly be. Most men, and I imagine some women, don’t comprehend the mechanics of breastfeeding — the letting-down, the latching, the bonding aspect as one of the most important elements in child development. They only see the “cultural” side: breast=sex=bad. The article should be required reading in every middle-school health education class. Keep it up, Moms. It’s the right thing to do — make breastfeeding become perceived to be as “natural” — and beautiful — an act as it “naturally” is.

  75. Anonymous

    See, to me, all it accounts for is women who breastfeed feel that only they are entitled to their rights and feelings and others feel you’re infringing on their rights to not want to have to see it in public.

    First and foremost its a baby, all it knows is eat, sleep, and poop, and if its hungry enough IT WILL take a bottle. You as a mother are just too wimpy to realize it.

    Secondly, you can cover it up, its not that hard, and if it is then invest in some binder clips to keep a blanket on your shoulder. Also saying its too hot means you don’t need to feed your child outside. If you cared so much about your baby’s eating you should also care about feeding your child in the heat. If you were inside a climate controlled area this whole, “It’s too hot” argument is null and void.

    Thirdly, if you feel you’re being exiled for having to remove yourself from the public eye to feed then that is a choice you made when you chose to “feed” your baby. If you feel exiled then that’s an emotion you choose to feel and that’s no one else’s problem but your own. If you don’t want to feel exiled then pump and don’t make excuses saying you can’t because yeah you can. It’s a tit. It’s filled with milk and if you mush it milk does come out. I’ve had two kids, I know this. If you can’t pump you need to learn to read some directions.

    All people are asking is you have respect for their rights too. You are not the only ones entitled to your feelings.

    1. Anonymous

      Your sensitive feelings are irrelevant, she’s feeding a baby not doing a strip tease, get over yourself. Don’t like it, don’t look and for anyone to demand a woman to hide or pump milk so you don’t have to feel your social conditioned shame is not only absurd it’s your problem, not hers.

    2. Anonymous

      A breastfeeding mother in public is not infringing anyone’s rights, you don’t have a right to not be subjected to seeing things in public spaces that you may find questionable or offensive, but guess what she does have the right to feed her kid. It doesn’t come from laziness, it comes from caring about her and her families comfort above some stranger who thinks that they should be able to dictate other people’s behavior. Guess what rights equate to? The ability to have choices, so yes it is our right to give our babies nourishment from our glorious breasts in the full light of day in front of strangers, husband’s, wives, and kids and it’s your right to look away.

    3. Annie Reneau

      I’m sorry . . . I try to remain patient and sympathetic, but I just can’t help myself this time:

      See, to me, all it accounts for is people who are bothered by breastfeeding in public feel that only they are entitled to their rights and feelings and others feel you’re infringing on their right to feed their babies without unnecessary hassle, judgment, or harassment.

      First and foremost you’re an adult. You know how to use your eyeballs and how to walk away, and if you’re bothered enough, you WILL look the other way. You’re just too wimpy to realize it.

      Secondly, you can avert your eyes, its not that hard, and if it is then invest in some glasses with blinders on them . . .

      Thirdly, if you feel bothered by a mom breastfeeding her child, then that is a choice you made when you chose to look. If you feel offended then that’s an emotion you choose to feel and that’s no one else’s problem but your own. If you don’t want to feel offended, then don’t look and don’t make excuses saying you can’t because yeah you can. They’re your eyeballs. They move from side to side and have lids that open and close. I have two eyes of my own, I know this. If you can’t look away, you need to learn to read some directions.

      All people are asking is you have respect for their rights too. You are not the only ones entitled to your feelings.

      SIGH. I don’t feel good about that, but occasionally snark is all I can come up with.

  76. Anonymous

    I had no problem covering when I was breastfeeding my son without covering his face. I did it using my baby wrap carrier draped over my shoulder and arm. The wrap was never on him so he was never bothered by it and I could have eye contact at all times. It was quite easy to keep in place while he was latching on as well as feeding even with him wriggling about. You could maybe see a bit from the right angle. Neither my nor his movements were restricted and we were both perfectly comfortable. My reason for it was my own comfort and not people around me since I didn’t want anyone to see my breasts. Having that said every mother should make her own choice as to what makes her comfortable without being criticised for it. Also, as many have said, if you don’t want to see don’t look.

  77. MaryBank

    This is an amazing article. Perfect for getting to the issues people have. Great comparisons to things the ‘average’ person would think silly. It would be silly to cover up a bottle feed baby.
    Yet another reason I am happy to have had my son in Canada (who I feed for 14 months). At the hospital the nurse gave me a number to call if any business told me I could not breast feed there. She said I should report them because its illegal. I do not have to cover up or go to a bathroom. I feed a lot in public. I used a cover at first but into that first summer I quit using it because it was SO HOT. I did become a huge fan of those small wash cloths. I would just put it on the top of my breast and use the strap of my bra to hold it in place. No nipple shown or breast and I could stuff look at my son and not let him over heat. :D

  78. Anonymous

    I am a man and would like to give all the mothers who babyfeed a high five! We are animals so why not use what ‘Mother Natue’ intended! I would like my kids to get all the nutrition and immune system built up from day one! Does it not also help babyand mother bond?When my ex girlfriend had a baby she started with breast and whenever we went out we would end up in Cafe Nerro as nothing was ever said nice spot for everyone to enjoy a meal!

  79. Anonymous

    I have been so lucky to breast feed my three, and applaud the article above. If we were out at a restaurant say, I would always feed my baby before going into the restaurant. Sometimes, admittedly, it wasn’t always possible, but I would try and time things around my babies.
    However, if I was in the park, beach, friends house etc, I would use a Mussolini draped across the top of my baby, therefore covering any bit of boob above. I used to laugh, because in the summer my tops showed more boob when I wasn’t feeding than when I did. (If you see what I mean)!
    My daughter was fascinated when I brought her brother home and gave him my boob. I told her it’s his milk, and that was that. However, whenever she and friends played mum and dads, she’d always lift up her top and rather harshly shove her dolls head to her nipple! So all these mums who don’t want tell their kids about breast feeding, I’m sorry, she probably already has.

  80. Karen Monkeyfooted Mummy

    I love you! This is great,you took words straight from my mouth! First time I tried to balance a not good feeder with hiding in corners under scarves! second I fed anywhere outside inside even in church you know what the vicar said when he passed me ? ‘ hey how’s it going? Nice to see you and the family’ this time around I’m more confident and comfortable and I enjoy feeding

  81. Anonymous

    In a few years it will be men’s turn:

    “It sure is hard to cover up my penis when I’m in public. People just don’t understand what it’s like when you can’t hold it and you have to go *right now* and pee into a public street gutter instead of waiting a couple of minutes and going to a bathroom. Besides, bathrooms are gross and I don’t want to pee in there! Yuck! If I’m in a restaurant, there is nothing wrong with me whipping out my penis and urinating into a container. Urine is sterile and perfectly natural! It’s society’s fault that the penis is so sexualized, not mine! I’m urinating, not engaging in a in the act of reproduction. If you don’t want to see my penis, don’t look! Blahblahblah football.”

    Ladies, let’s be ladies and keep our shirts on in public, m’kay. It’s not that hard to get up and *WALK TO A BATHROOM*. Yes, the are bathrooms accessible everywhere there are people and yes, it’s sanitary to feed your baby in the bathroom – no one is going to make you rub your nipples against the toilet seat before feeding time – and chances are your baby doesn’t even really understand what a bathroom is, they just know they are hungry. :/

    1. Lady M

      Ewwwww!!!! Fecal matter and worse are sprayed into the air by those highpowered public toilets. Let’s stsrt with YOU carrying your food into the public restroom and eating it there whenever you eat away from home. I am sure you won’t mind, because after all, we are not asking you to rub you plate all over the sest before your food is placed on it — right?!

      Honestly. Did you actually read what you just typed? And it sounds like you do not know the difference between your breasts and your vagina. I am more than a little concerned about this issue. Please mention your confusion at your next medical appointment. Yeesh….{shaking my head}}

    2. Jane H

      This is a great example of a false analogy fallacy (Or “phallicy” if you will) ;) I’m glad that you had an easy time breastfeeding in the bathroom. My boy would scream whenever we went in to change his diaper. I tried feeding him on a bench in the bathroom and he didn’t go for that either.

    3. Anonymous

      Did you really just compare a newborn crying for food to a grown man not wanting to hold his urine until he finds a restroom? Really???

    4. Anonymous

      If fecal matter is spraying you every time you go to the bathroom, I’d like to know why you aren’t more concerned with the places you frequent instead of replying to comments on this blog.

    5. The Liangs

      I love your answer, Lady M :) Seriously!?!!? Walk to the bathroom!?!?!? How about those tiny bikini that are not always worn on the beach! How about those see through t-shirts? How about those underwears sticking out of teens pants? you know the ones that hang at knee level… What about all those?
      Stop being a bigote. And STAY home. Leave the restaurant if you’re not happy. Not our problem! It’s YOURS!!!

  82. Anonymous

    honestly, with my 3rd i also cover up when in public, mostly because i don’t feel comfortable. i’m not quick when preparing him to feed, and don’t particularly want everyone watching me “naked” while getting ready. once he’s latched on, it’s no big deal. with my 1st two it was mostly pumped breast milk- i’m a mucho, mucho overproducer and in the beginning have to pump just to allow my babies to latch, plus my 2nd never learned to latch.

    but, in the midst of all the arguing over this subject, i think there is one really important point that i never see discussed in depth. i think there is always the discussion of sexualization, but i’m not really sure it’s that at all. honestly, i think that’s an excuse for others just being uncomfortable because for almost 2 generations the prevalence of breastfeeding went down drastically. we have to remember that when formula 1st came out, it was touted as being more nutritious than breastmilk and many, many women chose formula over breastmilk. this resulted in a shift in our society; it was not common for women to be exposed in public for the sake of feeding. now that the pendulum is swinging back the other way, we have most people who are not exposed to this idea and are not really all that sure about how to feel about it. i think this is why those who are much older generally encourage you (because many of them still breastfed because formula still a new idea, or not easily accessible), but those around ages 50-60 and younger don’t. feeding history says by the 50s, more than 1/2 of all babies in the u.s. were formula fed. additionally, back when breastfeeding was the norm, women on the whole did not leave the house quite as regularly as we do today and “modesty” had a much, much different look than it does today, and thus were not exposing themselves in public (for feeding or anything else).

    i’m not saying that those who want to see breastfeeding in public shouldn’t continue to speak up about it and try to find ways to create a new cultural norm; we should. but we also have to remember that we truly are creating a new norm (we aren’t even returning to something that was common in the past), and that those who are uncomfortable about it are probably uncomfortable more because they don’t really know “how” to be. can you imagine how shocking it would be to see a woman exposing herself in public, or more specifically, in a public place where people don’t really expect to see women deliberately being overtly sexy (a.k.a. the beach, hooters, a strip club) if you grew up in a home where mom didn’t breastfeed and weren’t used to seeing it on a daily basis? it means you haven’t been taught how to ignore it, haven’t been taught how to have an open discussion about it, haven’t been taught to separate sexuality from feeding without a second thought?

    i think the only way to really change and create this new norm is to continue to be active about it, speak about it, be passionate about it, but to also not be so aggressive about it that we lose chances to have open discussions. if we can continue to educate and expose, especially with our own children, then in another generation or so, it will be normal and our children won’t have to worry so much about feeding our future grand babies in public.

    1. Annie Reneau

      I totally agree. I’m actually quite put off by how aggressive and “in your face” some breastfeeding advocates can be—and I’m a breastfeeding advocate! That kind of advocacy does absolutely no good. I try to by sympathetic to where people are coming from, even if they hold views that I find ridiculous. I was raised seeing breastfeeding. I was raised with it as totally normal and nothing to get into a wad about. So I think it’s very important for people to see breastfeeding, but that doesn’t mean we need to make a show of it. I think slowly easing people into feeling comfortable with seeing breastfeeding with go much farther than bullying people into accepting it (which they won’t, under those circumstances). Thank you for a very thoughtful comment.

  83. Anonymous

    As a new mother, I had a lot of anxiety about feeding my daughter in public for the first few weeks after she was born. I was not exposed to breastfeeding in my family (formula children) and my parents never talked about it. My sister in law nursing her child made me uncomfortable, honestly. Now that I have an infant to nurse, I understand why it’s important to support mother’s and babies and make their lives easy. (I am totally over it now and will feed her wherever we go, for example I just nursed my girl in a carrier while browsing at Home Depot of all places. She was hungry and I had things to do!)

    It isn’t about a mom being selfish, it is a mom taking care of a helpless child as best she can while continuing to live her life. Women are vulnerable to depression after having a baby, the last thing we want to do is send mixed signals (“Breast is best” but, “Cover up! We don’t want to see it!”) when she is doing the right thing.

    US society needs an attitude adjustment, not the mothers. It should be a non-issue but sadly is not because of how removed we are from it (myself included, until now).

    And, for heaven’s sake, I wanted to nurse in a cover for my OWN comfort at first but it was too impractical for a first-time mom with a squirming/crying baby. Agree with all posters who say to turn away if you don’t like it.

    Thank you for this article, I will be sharing! – LM

  84. Anonymous

    I can’t get over how stupid and ridiculous our culture is that this article needs to be written. (No offence to the author, I’m glad you wrote it) Breasts are for feeding babies milk, that society has sexualized them is a big so what in my opinion, people seriously need to grow up! Seeing a nipple should not be so offensive unless you’re so filled with shame you can’t handle it, and guess what that’s your problem.
    If a woman has to whip out her breast to feed and it makes some people feel uneasy then they are the ones that need help from a therapist. When you look at yourself naked in the mirror do you cover your nipples so you don’t see them? No, so why do you care if you see another women’s nipple?
    If men get turned on by a breast, so what, if they get aroused by a woman breast feeding her baby, they’re perverse and that’s not the woman’s problem.
    If teenagers and kids are around they should already know that she’s feeding a baby and don’t stare and should definitely know what a breast is, if they don’t their parents failed.
    I think people who tell women to be modest and cover up are childish and need to really think about that for a moment, examine where that shame comes from and try to sort that out for themselves, leave tired moms trying to nurse they babies alone, it’s a nipple and guess what, men have them too they’re just not used to feed infants.

  85. Anonymous

    u should also add the question why do people find it acceptably to watch other animals breastfeed their young but not a female of their own species? u should also say if animals don’t cover up when breastfeeding their young nor care if others are watching them breastfeed then why should anyone care if human females don’t cover up when breastfeeding like every other mammal on this planet?.

  86. Jane H

    If you are out in public with your baby for more than an hour or two you’re going to have to pump again or have sore breasts, leaking, and risk throwing off your whole milk production. And where are you going to pump? Not the bathroom. I tried that just to pump and dump to keep my milk coming in but those stalls don’t really have a place to put anything without making a mess. I even used the small hand pump, which takes about 30-40 minutes. In the car you say? Yeah, I have a Saturn Ion, there is about as much room as that bathroom stall and it’s not even remotely private. I tried to be discreet because I have my own chest related esteem issues and I ended up losing most of my milk when my son was 6 months and completely by 8 months. Some people are skilled at being discreet and then there are those of us who have to mess around for a minute or 2 to get everything lined up correctly.

  87. Anonymous

    I am uncomfortable with nursing uncovered in public, though I believe it is every woman’s right and I will loudly defend her right to do so. I would never tell a breastfeeding woman to find a different place to feed, or cover up, nor would I share my opinions without them being explicitly solicited. I simply focus on my meal, the scenery, my iPhone… whatever.

    Here’s what has me angry. A breastfeeding friend is angry at me because I am uncomfortable and won’t look at her while she breastfeeds uncovered. Like, it’s not enough that I support your rights, keep my thoughts to myself, and remain engaged with you while you breastfeed… Now I am expected to watch and subvert my own feelings because I “shouldn’t be uncomfortable” mad “need to get over it”. So, I’m at a loss. I thought it was ok not to watch. Now I’m expected to, as a show of “support”? Come on.

  88. Anonymous

    My first child (and second quite shortly) was born in Germany and I breastfed until about 15 months. Germans are great- no hangups about breastfeeding in public (although sometimes stare…which is fine as long as you are prepared for it). I never felt exiled and never had to resort to breastfeeding in a bathroom. The first bit of motherhood was tough to try to be modest about it- latching on is a real trick for the small babies- but once I realized that relaxing about any nip-slips while latching on made the process much more successful it was much easier. I hate the over-reaction of mothers who feel they should be able to breastfeed with as much boob showing as they want- modesty is comfortable for those around you and can let you keep up a conversation with others while you feed- but equally abhorrent is being asked to not expose people to this very natural thing. One has to breastfeed in public if they want to assume anything like a normal lifestyle as a new mother. Great article.

  89. Anonymous

    Huh?! Covering up implies that there’s something inappropriate about feeding a baby?! No! It implies that you don’t want the whole world to see your nipple, and as most of us don’t usually flash our nipples while going going out and don’t fight for our rights to go bare breasted, why should this situation be any different now?! The breast doesn’t turn into the holy grail when you breastfeed, it is still a breast, and the society norms, whatever we might think about them, are still there, and it’s natural that some people react in the same way as they would react if a baby wasn’t attached to it! Deny it we may, but if we do, that’s exactly why

    And BTW, there IS a way to cover up AND keep eye contact with baby. Thats’ called a nursing apron.

  90. Anonymous

    I loved this article. I’m not a mom but I made a choice a LONG time ago that breastfeeding was the way I was going to choose to go when the time was right for me to bring someone into this world. But that’s all it is. A CHOICE! You can’t say it’s “not possible” for you not cover up when someone is breastfeeding if you bottle fed. That’s just plain and simple. You didn’t have to deal with your baby’s picky antics (if any) and any dirty looks. For people who say it’s inappropriate for them and their children to see this happen in public without covering. You know what else is inappropriate? STARING! Didn’t your mother or whoever teach you not to stare. Why not at least teach that to your children if you find it so hard to explain to your children that the baby is being fed. But it all comes down to choice. If I CHOOSE to breastfeed my children, I should have the CHOICE of whether or not I should cover up my baby. Just because you didn’t choose this for your baby doesn’t mean I should alter the way my baby feeds. Ok. Some might say “It takes two seconds to cover up.” So? Should I try to do something that may or may not be comfortable for my baby just to make you comfortable? OR will continue to do what I do at home and what I know works for when it comes time to feed my baby.

    Once again, I don’t have any kids. But just reading the comments has me sitting here like “WTF?” I have a niece on the way soon and my sister-in-law says she is going to breastfeed. Personally, I’d put my foot in someone’s ass if they continued to “stare” just because they were disgusted. Just keep it moving. It’s not that hard. And it’s not even about Men finding it as a sexual performance or seeing boobs as a sexual object. It’s women who choose to shield their eyes or children from something simple who want it to be made easier and “Men” are their excuse. Do men find it sexual? Some yes. But not all. My dad goes to the store and buys tampons for me when my mom wouldn’t. Do all men do this? No. But he’s a dad. He knows whats up. Better than that, he’s an adult. A mature adult, I should say, who knows whats going on and keeps it moving. You “embarrassed” or “disgusted” mothers should take a lesson on maturity from these men.

  91. Anonymous

    For the contrary commenters who think that children and other people shouldn’t “have to see” a baby breastfeed — one reason that I breastfed successfully (despite some significant challenges medically with my first child) was that *I knew what a good latch looked like.* How did I know? Because my mother, my aunts, and the women at the church I attended as a child nursed (without covers) in front of us. I had seen many good latches over the years. It helped.

    I have had several friends who wanted to breastfeed but who had difficulties that they waited too long to contact an LC about, and ended up stopping breastfeeding instead. I wish I could time-travel and instead of just “discreetly and quickly latching my baby” while we were visiting, I could instead say, “Hey, wanna see how this is done?” It might have helped. It might have helped a lot.

  92. Mysterylilies

    The other day in church I had my nearly six month old in his Sabbath School class and he needed to eat. I picked him up from where he was sitting on the floor and pulled my breast out the top of my shirt (which is how I normally nurse) to nurse him. I do it discretely and quickly and don’t flaunt it around. I don’t think 99% of the moms, dads, toddlers, or teachers in the room noticed -but the one lady next to me who was 39 weeks pregnant and in there with her 3 year old daughter seemed to notice.
    I noticed a distinct chilly air about her and she somewhat exaggeratedly put her hand up by her face -from my angle appearing as if she were literally blatantly shielding her eyes from the sight of my nursing son. I was infuriated but didn’t say anything -though I was tempted to ask her if she had a headache or was ill… She kept her hand up there and turned slightly away from me for well over 10-15 minutes -Far long after he was done and back sitting on the floor playing with his toys.
    I just can’t believe the nerve of some people… I felt as if she drew more attention to the fact that I was feeding my son than I did. Most people don’t even notice that I’m actually feeding my child -they see a sleeping or snuggling baby…
    This is well written and hits on most if not all of the major points I think of when monologue-ing to myself about the topic…

  93. Britney Skipper

    First off and foremost, I’d like to point out that I think breastfeeding is a beautiful thing, and a bonding experience. And when I am blessed enough to become a mother, I plan to breastfeed. The only part of this entire article (or any of the comments) that I took issue with is the fact that women feel that they should not have to alter what they’re doing or where they are for the comfort of those around them. Granted, you shouldn’t. But the same argument can be made from the other side. Sexuality is natural. And whether we like it or not, certain parts of the human body are considered sexual, whether they have multiple purposes or not. It’s just as natural to be attracted to breasts as it is to feed from them as infants. To expect other people to alter what is natural to them (referring to the numerous “just look away” comments) isn’t fair of you. Neither is asking them to go somewhere else. I can guarantee that no one MEANT to cross your path while you were breastfeeding. You, however, CHOSE to breastfeed. And in public. I just think that if a person or group of people expect to be shown respect and be considered as an exception due to a difference in circumstance (referring to the asexual aspect of feeding versus the sexual aspect that attracts men), then a little respect should be shown towards others as well. Otherwise, youre implying that I, or others around you, should take a backseat to the comfort of you and/or your child. Which I shouldn’t. Nor should either of you have to take a backseat to mine. I’m not discrediting the fact that covering a child can be difficult. I’m not saying breastfeeding mothers should be forced into uncomfortable places. I just think that there should be a mutual level of respect. If not even for others, at least for yourself. I wouldn’t want to see anyone’s breast flopping in and out of a difficult eater’s mouth any more than I’d want to see someone’s tongue flopping in and out of their significant other’s mouth. I also wouldn’t want that much of my breast to be exposed. Not because I’d be uncomfortable. And not because a few people might be made uncomfortable. But for the sheer fact that there are some really sick-minded people in the world who are just lurking around and waiting for the perfect opportunity to snap a picture under a skirt or, God forbid, of a momentarily exposed breast. It’s 100% impossible to be entirely aware of your surroundings at all times. And I think that women at large have a duty to ourselves to preserve our bodies as something special, to be kept modest, and to be reserved for only a spouse. Like I said. I feel like it’s just about having a mutual level of respect for each other. Do what’s comfortable for you. But not at the cost of anyone else’s comfort level. And be careful because you never know what kind of people are around you.

    I’d also like to point out the fact that I read every single comment and reply. And I learned so much that I didn’t know, and read so many things that had never even crossed my mind. I can’t wait to become a mother. And I applaud every one of the men and women who commented their beliefs.

    1. Perki

      Very well spoken. I couldn’t have said it any better. Thank you for politely and respectfully saying what I didn’t know how to say. Bravo.

    2. Anonymous

      The problem with this line of logic is that you think feeding my hungry, crying, teething baby is a choice. Ogling someone is a choice, my baby needing the comfort and nourishment my breast provides is not, even if we are in public, my baby doesn’t understand that her eating might offend the sensibilities of some poor adult who is actually able to self comfort, use patience, be understanding of the needs of an infant over that of an autonomous being. I respect that people have different comfort levels, which is why if when I’m breastfeeding and someone averts their eyes, or walks away I won’t go screaming after them “Why aren’t you staring at me whilst I breastfeed?!” But if someone is offended why would they continue to then stare at whatever has offended them? It’s up to them to figure it out not us, we’re well within the decency laws, and showing no “disrespect” by saying if you don’t like it you don’t have to look at it.

  94. Edna hummel

    Only have one thing to say. I’m 27 ftm an I babyfeed my son who is 9 months old I never cover up because he hates blankets on him always has…. I have 4 step kids an they are a lot older than our son an I don’t cover up in front of them an they don’t mind because they know I am they’re brothers food with out me he can’t eat an they understand that… I love all my kids an are proud of them for they’re support

  95. Anonymous

    Please be easy on my ignorance. “I’ve known one mom who exposed much more breast for much longer than any other moms I’ve known, but she was raised in Africa, so that explains it.” THAT does not explain it to me. Dear writer, or someone else, would you please explain so that people with less knowledge like me can understand?

  96. Anonymous

    Everyone who is saying that “men and boys find breast sexually attractive and that is just the way it is” do you realize that is just another way of saying, “boys will be boys…oh well” no. That is not acceptable, maybe if you took the time to teach your sons and husbands how to control themselves it wouldn’t be as much of an issue. I do not feel that I should have to hide some that is natural and healthy because the men in your life can’t keep it in their pants.

  97. Anonymous

    It’s amazing how skewed our culture is when it comes to what is and isn’t appropriate regarding breasts and their primary function. Thank you for writing this article.

    1. Krystyn/KameKnits

      Agreed wholeheartedly. The primary function of a breast is to feed a child. The fact that they are seen as a sexual object is an added bonus. I BF’ed my 1st (now 3) and am BFing my 2nd (about 4 months). When my 3 yo was 2 he pointed at my boobs and asked “what do they do?” (it was a phase he went through). I told him that they used to feed him, and that they were currently there for decoration, and that when his little brother came, they would feed him too. My son’s reaction? Okay, and walked away. This is how we should be teaching our children about women’s bodies. Not that every thing on our bodies is a sexual thing and should be hidden unless in an attempt for sex.
      Some find lips very sexual. But their primary function is to feed us. Are we to cover our lips while we eat as to not invoke sexual feelings? no.
      Of note, my kids have been okay with covers, so i cover while i am out because I find it more comfortable for myself and am understanding that some may not want to see my breast. However, if at any point my child has an issue and the cover does not work, I have no qualms with Bfing without one.

  98. Anonymous

    Wow. The comments on this post have opened my eyes to what a variety of opinions there are on this matter. I breastfeed my baby. I’m thrilled that I’m able to. I usually cover my breast, but I don’t feel that I have to, and at times when I don’t feel like struggling with a baby who likes to grab anything that touches her hand, and it’s 80 degrees out, I do not. I think the argument that breastfeeding evoking sexual responses from passers-by rings a bit hollow with me because personally I don’t think there is anything sexy about a breast being used to feed a baby. I am totally comfortable with my friends coming over and nursing their babies in front of my husband if they feel comfortable; I feel much less comfortable with women walking by my husband on the beach with tiny bikini tops on…the bikini tops are designed to attract and sexualize the female body; breastfeeding is about something entirely different. The last thing I have ever thought about when getting ready to feed my baby in public is “I can’t wait to see how many guys look my way.” If they do, that’s their decision. In my experience, most males tend to avoid a breastfeeding woman. In any case, this argument could go on forever, but the fact is that at least in my state, I am allowed to breastfeed wherever and however I choose by the law. Modesty is not a one-size-fits-all concept, and it is NOT about “protecting” men from sexual thoughts that we might “force” them to have by using our breasts for their intended purpose!

    1. Wendyrful

      “I feel much less comfortable with women walking by my husband on the beach with tiny bikini tops on…the bikini tops are designed to attract and sexualize the female body; breastfeeding is about something entirely different. The last thing I have ever thought about when getting ready to feed my baby in public is “I can’t wait to see how many guys look my way.”

      Thank you! Breastfeeding is NOT a sexual thing! It is about nourishing -and bonding- with your baby, with the prefect food made and meant JUST for THEM!!!

  99. Anonymous

    A great comment to anyone that suggests you feed in the bathroom, just reply “I will when you take your meal and eat in the bathroom along with my baby!”

    1. Tim Brandt

      Which I would TOTALLY be okay with doing. Seriously. I might face the other way if you’re nursing though, just sayin.

  100. Anonymous

    While I really don’t agree with everything the article had to say, I support breast feeding wherever. I in particular don’t care to see it which is why I will make sure not to look at them while they are doing it. Breast feeding can be a beautiful thing. Some women however, are just vulgar in general, in all phases of their lives, and when breast feeding they are no different. I feel that is where most of the issue tends to stem, and not from just an issue of breast feeding. We chose not to breast feed our children. I know, as a registered nurse, that breast feeding is not any more beneficial in the long run than bottle. Our life was so much easier as two very busy managers and there is no way that my wife could be with the kids 24-7 so they had to be able to eat something when she was not around. This way I was able to do most of the feeding myself and the grandparents who kept the kids while we were at work could feed easily as well. The whole issue is regarding simplicity in life. For those mothers who do not have to work and can be with their kids to feed all day or pump for when they are not with the kids, great! More power to you. It is simpler to do and for sure the cheaper way to go. For all those out there who do not like seeing it, just look away. That is also something simple to do.

    1. Anonymous

      I have a BSN in Nursing and am a licensed lactation consultant. I have to say that people uneducated comments such as ” I know, as a registered nurse, that breast feeding is not any more beneficial in the long run than bottle” are the exact reason so many mother’s do not understand and do not get the help they need with nursing. I urge you to do some research on the reasons HUMAN breast milk IS in fact far more beneficial than a powdery substance that you have absolutely NO idea what is in it for sure! Formula is made from COW’S milk. Which in case you are uneducated to what “cow’s milk” is, it is BREAST MILK from another SPECIES! Your wife’s body was trusted to make your children, why would you be as ignorant to not encourage her to feed her the FREE, PERFECT, and most COMPLETE form of nutrients that was made SPECIFICALLY for your children!!!! People like you, with these uneducated ridiculous comments and opinions, are the exact reason the USA is so unhealthy and completely dependent on man made drugs. Do your research before commenting. PLEASE. Thank you

    2. knitbunnie

      As a neonatal ICU RN who has seen the great benefit of breastmilk feedings in premies, and as a woman who breastfed four children, I thank you for your comment!

    3. Anonymous

      I am very educated in this fact, and not only BSN, but have a PhD in nursing. I did the research not only for my own children, but for my doctorate as well. As I said, if you had bothered to read the article correctly, that either way of feeding is perfectly acceptable. What is IGNORANT, as you say, are people like you who feel it is ok to tear others down with your “education”. You are also a part of the reason that some who chose to bottle feed out of necessity feel less than adequate at times. As a nurse, it is your job to present all the facts correctly and support customers in their decisions with compassion, not bully them into submission to your narrow views.

    4. Anonymous

      I actually am very educated on this subject. I too have a BSN as well as PhD in Nursing. I in fact, I did plenty of research both with my children and as my topic for my doctorate. As I stated above, if you had bothered to read it instead of jumping to conclusions, I stated that both ways of feeding are perfectly acceptable. It is something that each individual family should decide for themselves. What I find very “IGNORANT” as you put it, is the fact that you would use your “education” to try to tear down others. It is health care workers such as yourself that make those of us who choose to bottle feed out of necessity feel inadequate at times. As a nurse, it is your duty to provide all of the facts regarding all options to patients and families so they can make an informed consent about what is best for them. It is not you job to bully them into submission to your own narrow minded views.

    5. Richelle Ann

      As a ‘registered nurse’ myself, are you kidding me??… “breastfeeding is not anymore beneficial in the long run”… while it sounds like you made the decision to bottle feed based on your wife’s work schedule and the inconvenience it would have been to nurse while working…please don’t stretch you circumstances into saying that it really doesn’t make a difference because you are wrong. Breast milk is and always will be superior to formula, and that’s just the fact. It is designed to completely nourish a baby during any stage of development, provide immunity from sickness, digest easily and completely, prevent allergies, be readily available in the right concentration and the right temperature, etc. While it is understandable that ALL women may not be able to nurse or choose to, and that is acceptable for them…DO NOT try to say that there is no difference between the two.

  101. Wendyrful

    I had a thought as a young mother that, “I refuse to be banished from society for Breastfeeding my child”. It took some time and learning to be ‘comfortable’ when in public. I used to say with my 5th, that “if she didn’t eat in public/when we were on the go, then she wouldn’t be able to ea”t… I would push the double stroller with the baby nursing in the sling, while I walked the older two to school in the mornings… I didn’t have time, and didn’t want to lock myself away or stay home all the time just because I was breastfeeding. In the 14+ years of breastfeeding with my 6 children, can you imagine how much church I would have missed? or whatever other things if I was constantly running away to hide to feed my kids? I have literally breastfed all over the world, on planes, trains and automobiles. I have BF while hiking down Carlsbad Caverns, on It’s a small world at Disney (it’s a great 20 minute sit down place in a climate controlled environment! ;), the top of the Space Needle, sitting in Church, at concerts, at the pool, while shopping, etc… It’s just a matter of feeding baby when baby is hungry. I wasn’t trying to do anything special, I wasn’t trying to make a statement, I wasn’t trying to get anyone’s attention believe me, I was simply trying to live my life, and do the best for my kids and take care of their needs…

  102. Anonymous

    This article is fantastic. Thank you for sharing. It blows my mind that anyone can dispute such a beautiful and necessary act of nature.

  103. Sarah Sew Lucky

    LOL… I’m laughing about the amount of times I had my boobs out and flopping about in public throughout my 20’s. You should have seen the beads I got at Mardi Grad! I show almost zero boob when I’m feeding my boys some boobie milk in public.. yet somehow I’m stigmatized as a disgusting exhibitionist when I do it. What? Suddenly my boobs arent awesome because my baby is attached to them? Society is full of double standard jerks.

  104. Anonymous

    Here’s the thing ladies, the breastfeeding debate is fueled by anger and/or strong feelings on both sides of the issue. I have seen plenty of women breastfeed in public and most of the time it is done in such a way that is not offensive or distracting to other patrons in any way. However, with that said, I must share a story that happened when my son was about 2 to 3 years old. We were at McDonald’s and my son was sitting there eating his happy meal. A woman walked in with her screaming baby, so naturally everyone looked in her direction (normal reaction when you hear screaming). She proceeded to lift her shirt all the way up to her neck and start feeding her baby. She had pulled her shirt up to where (both breasts were exposed). Now my son, who is naturally curious, starts staring at her. He said to me, “mommy, her boobies are showing.” I explained to him that she was feeding her baby from her booby. He continued to stare, and this woman started screaming at me and calling my son a pervert. So, I try to distract him with his happy meal toy, but he continues to look back over at this woman and watch her feeding her baby. Now she starts screaming at him and telling him to mind his own f-ing business. So I politely ask this woman not to scream and curse at my child (as his bottom lip is now starting to quiver). Then she starts screaming and cursing at me and telling me I should take my son and leave because he is obviously a “sicko”. Meanwhile, everyone in the restaurant has heard every word and they are all starting to make little comments under their breath (loud enough though that you could hear) about her being the one who is a pervert for flopping them out in public, etc…. I felt like my son and I were attacked just because the mom was trying to get attention. A 2 year old watching a woman breastfeed their baby is not a pervert. So while there may be some bad apples when it comes to being accepting of breastfeeding in public, there are also plenty of women who seem to intentionally make it uncomfortable for others around them, just so they can have a reason to complain….

    1. Alex

      Well, if a 2 year old was staring at me breastfeeding (definitely not exposing both breasts) I would calmly talk to him about what I was doing and ask him whether he had any siblings etc. If that situation really went down like you said, then that woman clearly has issues.

  105. Unknown

    I read something once that said to offer a baby blanket to the (often offending) offended so they can cover their own head..give em a mercury laden microfiber blanket so they can get the idea of how suffocating it is to be under one.

  106. tashile

    A friend of mine posted this on FB and I just had to comment. I have read through the comments about people saying that its offensive in one way or another. I am a man and I have two daughters and a son. It is my responsibility to teach all three of my children about respect for other people. That includes the realization that breasts aren’t toys for men, they are for nourishing babies. There is nothing obscene about a woman baring her breast to feed her baby. Any man that can’t control his sexual urges when seeing a baby being put on a bare breast needs to grow up. That is incredibly juvenile behavior. My daughters, if they choose to have children, should be comfortable to breastfeed in public. My son should be mature enough to realize that the breast is not there for his amusement.

    1. Anonymous

      Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you! Can you teach classes???? So nice to read this kind of comment from the male partner of a breastfeeding woman.

  107. Tracie

    Thank you so much for this post! I breastfed all 3 of our babies. With the first (9 years ago) I was super-self-conscious and terrified of feeding her in public. It stressed me out beyond belief. I experienced PPD and I was always depressed because I just about couldn’t go out in public. By the time we got everyone ready, packed a huge diaper bag, dealt with the carseat, etc. there was only 40-ish minutes before she would need to feed again. When I became pregnant with our 2nd, I swore I would never be embarrassed about feeding in public again. I tried to do the ‘cover with blanket’ thing, but in August in Louisiana, it just wasn’t happening. He pulled it off every single time (I couldn’t blame him!). After the first week, I just said ‘to hell with it’ and fed my baby wherever I was, without a cover, without caring what anyone thought. I never got any weird looks that I know of. I don’t think most people even knew I was feeding a baby! I wasn’t nearly as exposed as the VS models are in their massive window ads. It’s ridiculous to expect breastfeeding mothers to hide while feeding their baby. The more ‘normal’ this becomes in the US (a ‘progressive’ country, really??), the better.

  108. RLandEsMom

    I love this. I fed my youngest all through Disney World. I had her in a sling to make it easier. A couple walked up to me to see the baby. They didn’t realize I was feeding. They saw and told me, good job. Keep doing what you’re doing.
    Another time I had gone to the restroom to change diaper and get the sling on (I needed to put baby down. A woman was behind me waiting to use the table with her little girl. I apologized for taking so long. She wasn’t having any of that. She said it was more important that baby eat and went on to explain to her little girl what I was doing. I thanked her for her patience once I was done but she thanked me.
    Lastly, we were at one of the fancy character dinners. Baby had to eat. So I got my sling and got her latched and say and ate. Eyore came over for a photo op. He didn’t realize what I was doing and I have a photo with Eyore feeding my daughter.
    With each child, I got more brave with feeding. By my last I exclusively fed her until 15 months. I’m so glad I did.

  109. Anonymous

    My babies clusterfeed. All. The. Time. I would never be able to leave the house. Or the nursing lounge. Let’s enact a law for all public stores/places to spend a lot of money to build an appropriate nursing room so moms can go out in public to hide in a room to feed their baby. Makes sense to me.

    I have nursed my 7 kids and most people never realized I was nursing. Ive nursed over the too and pulled my shirt up. My large boobs are shaped to make nursing difficult in a covered/’modest’ way in all situations. Often times i would be in the middle of a conversation and they would stop a second…sometimes would ask if I was nursing and would apologize for bothering me! These were usually conversions with men. I only ever got rude comments by women cuz the baby was pulling my shirt (usually during babywearing not feeding). And only women would tell me to sit in a bathroom. Men would politely walk away or situate themselves to a more comfortable position like how people move themselves when being forced to sit too close.

    From my experience, I got harassed by women and never men. One time I was at a church and had two old med always leering at me…but they did that no matter if I was feeding or not. Some men are like that no matter the situation. In general tho, I dont think males sit aroused all day at a beach or in public. So to me, that whole arousal argument is invalid. Some Males will lust no matter the situation. Let’s put our boys in public rooms so they never see anything possibly arousing. Rant over.

  110. Whitney Hollingsworth

    Disagree. One of the perks of civilized society is not behaving like cavemen just because the paleo diet is trending.
    And it’s not just “feeding.” There is a DISTINCT difference between bottle feeding and breast feeding and in the case of very sick babies, tube feeding. Oh, the joy of adjectives, qualifiers and modifiers!!
    I have publicly breastfed three big, fat, always hungry babies. It’s true that when it’s time, it’s time and there’s no getting around it. I never hid in a bathroom or in a corner, but I did cover up. I have my whole life to bond with this human. 10 minutes without eye contact never killed anyone. And the baby doesn’t like being covered up? Sorry little baby, as the Dread Pirate Roberts once said: get used to disappointment. Babies aren’t an accessory for public platforming and campaigning.

    1. Anonymous

      You cannot explain to an infant that they just have to deal with it. It can cause longterm developmental damage to an infant not to meet its needs relatively quickly. If an infant needs to eat and flips out if covered, then that baby should be fed uncovered. The baby’s health is WAY more important than your comfort. How selfish of you to put a moment of discomfort over the physical and emotional needs to a helpless infant.

    2. Anonymous

      ^ I SECOND THIRD AND FORTH THE REPLY TO THIS COMMENT! “Babies aren’t an accessory for public platforming and campaigning. ” you should REALLY think about considering your child’s feelings! Do you feed yourself covered up? ” Get used to disappointment” to an infant… REALLY… Grow up!

    3. music_rxmama

      Also, an infant is not developmentally capable of “getting used to disappointment”– what you are calling “disappointment,” that baby views as something far more serious and the effects can be extremely detrimental. This article is not about using babies as a platform, but rather using this article to ADVOCATE for babies and their sleep-deprived, loving mamas.

    4. Anonymous

      Oh yes, I am certain therapists’ couches are overflowing with faults who are irreparably damaged because they lost eye contact with their mum during some feeds. Give your head a shake.

  111. Emily

    Have been nursing my 19 month old since birth and could have written every word of this. He’s had every drop from the tap. Well…we tried a few bottles, but he never took enough from them to count as a feeding. Anywho…I used to cover *all* the time if anyone besides my husband was in the room. And then it was just in semi-public places (I wouldn’t care at a restaurant, but would at church because people know me there, dangit.) And now I’m at the point where I really don’t give a mouse’s tiny hiney about what anyone thinks. Sometimes the cover helps him nurse better, sometimes it ticks him off. It’s about what makes him and me most comfortable…not anyone else. Thanks for this. :)

  112. Anonymous

    I have an interesting take on breastfeeding in the presence of others & why on lookers get so offended. I am a proud mother of three beautiful daughters. I modestly breastfed all of my girls. By modest, I mean sometimes covered up & sometimes didn’t. I never flopped my boobs around and shook them in any way to attract attention to myself, promise! My youngest I breastfed until she was 14 months old. While breastfeeding my youngest daughter, I was approached & addressed by a friend and my mother-in-law about my breastfeeding in front of her kids & husband. This friend explained to me that she was the one that felt uneasy about my breastfeeding. She explained to me that she felt threatened by my breast being exposed because in fact her husband was a “boob man”. She continued to explain that I was this adorable mom that was so put together. My hair & make-up was always done and that I was considered the “hot mom” amongst our group of friends. My mother-in-law (who had recently found out her husband had an affair many years ago) said that she did not want my father-in-law around while I breastfed so that he didnt accidently see my boob. She put it off on me. She didn’t want her husband, the grandfather, to get the “wrong idea” or get a “mixed message” about me. By all means I did not feel this way. The daily hair & make-up ritual was to cover my own insecurities of weight gain & the look of death that I always felt I displayed after the rangle of three kids. This friend of mine explained that I set the standard for what she thought her husband expected from her. She had three children also that she breastfed for a few months before returning to work. Yes, she was delt different cards. I was able to stay home for 6-8 months after having my girls. My point in this story is that society has made woman so insecure. The breasts has been extremely sexualized. Some men pay money to eat their lunch in the presence of a young woman exposing most/all of her breast. Movies & magazines have forced woman to compare & up hold the so called standardof what a beautiful woman looks like. Real woman don’t have people to do their hair & make-up everyday. Real woman don’t have personal chefs to cook phenomenal, perfectly preportioned food with just the right amout of calories. Real woman don’t have someone to photoshop all our pictures on FB & Instagram. We sometimes wonder if our husbands are distracted by other women (I believe this is a normal/occasional thought) this friend was so insecure about herself that she thought that the sight of a baby nursing on my boob would make her husband question his relationship with her. Are the people that complain about the breast being exposed just insecure? Are they worried that a breastfeeding mother is able to attract sexual attention while a non-breastfeeding mother sits unsexualized (may have made that word up) with their shirt down.
    I never felt so baffled in all my breastfeeding days as I was with these two woman. I went through many emotions & thoughts after being approached. My husband assured me that I was doing the right thing and to continue doing what was best for our daughter.
    As for the woman, I just felt extremely sad for them. That they were so tormented by their insecurities. I assured my friend that she was beautiful and that I would respect her concerns. I would never make another woman deal with those demons of insecurity over something I could control. I simply started excusing myself or covering up in the presence of her husband. She thanked me many weeks later for respecting her feelings. We are still friends to this day, 10 years later. Now for my MIT…..that’s a whole other forum.
    Just give me that milk! Moo moo moo moo! Keep the milk flowing & those babies fed my breastfeeding alumni friends!

    1. Jonesy

      Well, I am sorry to hear that your friend was so insecure about her relationship, because that’s all it really was. I mean, the relationship couldn’t have been any good if she was really considering that her husband would see you feeding your baby and then at that very moment be so sexually attracted to you that he would end his relationship with her, and that you would co-conspire to cheat on your husband and cheat with your friend’s husband.. that is really going too far! People who think like this either have waaaay too much time to do nothing but create nonsensical stories in their heads OR she was really married to a giant jackass that cheated on her constantly OR her husband once already cheated on her with a friend who coincidentally breastfed in his presence. As for your MIL, she is just cracked in the head – seriously, she has a major problem in the same way, insinuating that an old man is going to get his jollies off and think your a big old slut for feeding your baby. Oh my! Toxic, toxic people. I hope you and your husband happily distanced yourselves far enough to keep your heads clear on these issues and to not let these negative thought processes break down any walls. I can safely say, that I would never EVER be jealous or think my husband would cheat on me with a woman who was breastfeeding.. and honestly if I had a “friend” that approached me with this concern, I would instantly realise that this kind of toxic behavior and thought process wasn’t good to have around(me or my marriage or my children) in general.. though I do respect that you were able to come to a compromise and stay friends in some way, I am perhaps very brutal in that respect, but then again I don’t know the full story and you seem to know that she is otherwise a genuinely good person or else you wouldn’t still be friends. I’m glad you and your husband know you have done the right things and you are lucky to have such a guy! Cheers!

    2. Anonymous

      That’s so hard, and you are lovely to have dealt with it well. But it underlines beautifully the issues from so many commentators. Basically, men can’t be trusted to control themselves and it’s a woman’s responsibility to ensure they’re not led into temptation. I have three sons and the idea that anything that a woman did meant that their reaction to it was less their responsibility is terrifying.

    3. Richelle A.

      Jonesy, you really don’t understand the issue of insecurity at all… it isn’t about “having waaay too much time to do nothing but create nonsensical stories in their heads…” seriously, in America, being insecure is unfortunately a widespread problem for a huge number of women due to the media and the unrealistic barbie doll image that we feel we need to live up to. I applaud this woman for having the sensitivity to respond in the way that she did out of respect for her ‘friend’… a friend that she still has to this day. That’s what friends do, by the way, they respect each other and care about each other enough to actually change some of their actions if it bothers or offends their friend….and they don’t complain about it, or feel that their ‘rights’ have been violated.

  113. Anonymous

    The problem I have with this post is not the viewpoint so much as the attitude that seems to be behind it; it’s more assertion than argument. For example, she writes, “If a mom wants privacy to nurse because she feels more comfortable that way, that’s great… But it should be for her comfort, not for yours.” This and other comments in the post do come across as a lack of regard for others. It seems to be that “nursing mothers should be able to breastfeed whenever and wherever, and no one else gets any say in the matter. I don’t care about your opinion or discomfort because you’re wrong.” Her comfort is important; other people’s comfort is not.

    The final section about the village in Africa suggests that the writer does acknowledge what the general social/cultural view is – she just thinks it’s a wrong view and should change. That’s a perfectly valid position to take and to argue in favor of, but to me the tone of the writing is less “I am arguing for my viewpoint” and more “I know I’m right about this; why can’t everyone else see that and agree with me?” From a purely utilitarian view, the many outweigh the few – so if the general societal consensus is to be uncomfortable with public breastfeeding, then one would need to argue that nursing mothers do indeed warrant a privileged position that would outweigh the fact that they are the distinct minority. I’m not saying that such a case could not be made, but that it has not yet been.

    1. Annie Reneau

      I’m not sure I ever specified whether I was making an assertion or an argument—merely answering some common questions from my own viewpoint. This “lack of regard for others” has come up quite a bit, as well as the “many outweigh the few” idea. A few thoughts:

      I don’t actually believe that it’s a vast majority who think that breastfeeding in public isn’t okay. I think that varies greatly by region. As I stated, the vast majority of people I know are supportive. It would be interesting to see some actual numbers across the board.

      But let’s say for the sake of argument that the general cultural view is that breastfeeding in public makes people uncomfortable. It does not logically follow that it would have to be proved that “nursing mothers do indeed warrant a privileged position that would outweigh the fact that they are the distinct minority.” Why not? Because it was the general social/cultural view that blacks shouldn’t eat at the same restaurant as whites a mere couple of generations ago. Integration made people uncomfortable. Lots of people thought it was wrong. Did the many outweigh the few in that case? Was it necessary to prove that blacks “warranted a privileged position in order to outweigh the fact that they were the distinct minority”? Was other people’s discomfort with integration a legitimate feeling that deserved to be maintained and coddled?

      I’m not putting breastfeeding in public in the same category of seriousness as the civil rights movement. I’m using that as an example to illustrate that there ARE instances where the general cultural/societal viewpoint is wrong, where people’s discomfort with something is based on such erroneous ideas that it’s hard to make an argument other than “How can you not see that this is wrong?”

      Was it a “lack of regard for others” when people asserted that it was wrong to be uncomfortable with integration? Some discomforts actually are wrong because they are based on ideas that don’t make sense. I don’t think it’s wrong to be uncomfortable with women unnecessarily parading their breasts around, but that’s not happening in the vast majority of breastfeeding in public. And again, if someone is uncomfortable being in the same room as a mom feeding her baby, they are free to leave, just as people were free to leave an integrated restaurant if it made them uncomfortable. It’s not a lack of regard for people’s feelings; it’s simple fairness. Unless a mom is walking right up to someone and flashing her breast directly in their face, no one is being forced to see anything they don’t want to see. It’s unfair to expect a mom to go to extra lengths to ensure no one sees anything when other people are in charge of their own eyes, and it’s unfair for people’s discomfort with something as totally normal as feeding a baby to make life harder for moms who are just trying to feed their babies.

    2. Anonymous

      I’m afraid I don’t think the comparison with civil rights and integration is an appropriate one. Of course, as you acknowledged, one is far more serious an issue than the other. But in my mind, the critical difference between them for this discussion is that race or skin color is simply part of who a person is, something they have no control over, whereas breastfeeding is an action a person makes. A more apt comparison with civil rights would be along the lines of being uncomfortable around a person who is a new mother, regardless of what they are or are not doing. To my knowledge, no one is asking new mothers or babies to avoid public places altogether, but simply to courteously refrain from a very specific action in such public places.

      I too would be interested to see statistics about the general population’s views on public breastfeeding. Your personal experience is that many people are supportive; I would tend to think the opposite, at least based on my own experience. Perhaps I’m wrong, and most people are okay with it; perhaps not.

    3. Annie Reneau

      First, I appreciate the thoughtful dialogue here. Thank you. :)

      You’re right, it’s not an accurate comparison. It was really just to illustrate that just because a society/culture is uncomfortable with something, that doesn’t mean that discomfort is legitimate. Let’s make the comparison more appropriate with an action that people would find distasteful. Let’s say an interracial couple was holding hands in a restaurant. That would have made a lot of people very uncomfortable. Was it okay to ask or even to insinuate that the couple should leave the restaurant so no one had to see that? Would it be considered courteous for them to refrain from holding hands in public because it makes the people around them uncomfortable? They don’t HAVE to hold hands.

      I actually do understand why people have a problem with breastfeeding in public. Overwhelmingly, I believe, it goes back to the inability to see breasts as anything other than sexual. Therefore seeing a breast in any context is deemed inappropriate.

      I’m not actually a fan of seeing breasts outside of breastfeeding. I think Hooters is an abomination, I think porn is ruining our society like a cancer, I think it’s reasonable to have discussions about modesty with our children. But breastfeeding is TOTALLY separate from any of those contexts. Every person I’ve ever known who was raised around breastfeeding doesn’t bat an eye at it. Seeing breasts in a breastfeeding context should be totally asexual, in the same way that having a baby suckle from your breasts is totally asexual. It takes experience seeing breastfeeding in order to make that differentiation, which is why I think it’s important for women not to be told to hide themselves away.

    4. Anonymous

      If I cant pee in public you shouldnt be able to breast feed without covering up. No one wants to see my penis and no one wants to see your breasts. Just because you can doesnt mean you should.

    5. Raelynn Jordan

      Women SHOULD be allowed to breastfeed wherever, whenever they want. You don’t make a newborn wait because it might offend someone.
      Heck here in Las Vegas the indecency laws can actually be downright puritanical in some ways, but breastfeeding is still an exception. You are allowed to feed anywhere a woman is allowed to be, which means basically everywhere besides a men’s bathroom. It also doesn’t matter in the eyes of the law if it offends anyone.

  114. Anonymous

    Among a couple of other issues I have with this article, “Going to the bathroom is gross, stinky, and unsanitary to do in public…” Actually, “going to the bathroom” is a 100% natural function that every human being does every day. I wouldn’t label it as “gross,” unless you’re talking about not wanting to be around someone else’s bodily fluids. Oh, wait a second, feeding a baby involves bodily fluids–right? I would not want to sit down on a chair where someone’s milk had dribbled down, or where their baby spit up a bit of milk. That makes me want to puke just thinking about it. The same way I’d puke if there was a bit of poo or pee on a chair or table in a public place.

    This is just an honest observation and is not meant in a snarky, mean-spirited, or anti-breastfeeding way. I support breastfeeding 100%. I just wish places where food is served all offered family lounge areas for breastfeeding mothers.

    I won’t go into detail on the other issues here–like the idea that the act of breastfeeding can/should somehow solve the age-old problem of men being attracted to and sexualizing womens’ breasts. SMH.

    1. Chris LaFleur

      Its not a problem that men are attracted to womens breasts, that is as natural as breast feeding. What breast feeding teaches us is the proper way to see women in the context they’re in at the time, and how to seperate sex from other feelings or emotions or impulses.

    2. Annie Reneau

      Going to the bathroom is natural, but it’s still gross (to me, anyway). The smell, mainly. Not all bodily fluids are created equal. Spit isn’t nearly as big a deal as poo, for example. Sweat is technically a bodily fluid, and we touch people’s sweat every day. Breastmilk doesn’t smell bad, it’s not going to spread disease, and quite frankly, breastfeeding isn’t usually that messy so it’s not something to be concerned about. If you can find one single study or report of someone getting sick from being exposed to a woman’s breastmilk in a public setting, I’d love to see it. I looked pretty and couldn’t find one.

    3. Anonymous

      I hope you don’t realize how many glasses of cows milk gets dumped on restaurant chairs every day. My gosh, that’s bodily fluid from an unsanitary ANIMAL! Do you know where those teats are located?? I’ll give you a hint: its a lot further south on a cow than it is on a woman. O.o

    4. Anonymous

      Going to the bathroom is an act that deals with a waste product. Breast milk is not a waste product. It is food.

    5. Kiki

      So you have a problem with seeing a baby drink bodily fluids, yet it’s okay for people to drink an animal’s bodily fluids (cow/goat/sheep milk)? This is beyond warped. Oh, and guess what? Babies spit up milk, regardless of it being breastmilk from the source, breastmilk from a bottle, or formula. Chances are, if a baby spits up, a parent will clean it up, so I’m not quite sure where you’re coming from with “sitting in a chair where a baby spit up”.

    6. Anonymous

      If you’ve ever sat anywhere in public, you’ve likely sat where someone else’s sweat once fell. Oh, and since dust is about 80% human skin, you’ve also touched lots of sloughed off human skin. But one thing that’s funny about comparing breastmilk to poop and all of the other “bodily fluids” is that breastmilk is actually incredibly antibacterial.

  115. chris katjitae

    It is an individual choice to do it in public or not but as an African woman myself I’ll say there is nothing wrong with breastfeeding in public. By the way, that is a great article! I enjoy reading it, thannks.

  116. Chris LaFleur

    As a father to a naturally nursed little boy, and the oldest in a family of 7 children, all of whom were naturally nursed, I can honestly say that nursing at the breast is a truly beautiful thing.

    Witnessing my siblings and the children of my Mother’s friends all nurse at the breast as I was growing up, made me appreciate the female body for so much more then a sexual object. It taught me that there is nothing more natural and beautiful then when a mother feeds her baby.

    There aren’t words to describe how happy I was as I watched my baby son nurse at my beautiful wife’s breast. And when I see other mothers nursing in public, I don’t oogle and drool over the chance to see another womans boob, I see a beautiful act of bonding between mother and child, and my hat is off to all of you!!!

    1. Trinity

      Wait, are you trying to tell me that all men don’t completely break down sexually at the sign of a breast? Say it isn’t so!! ;)
      I keep saying, maybe instead of women freaking out thinking that their husbands and sons will fall apart if they see a breastfeeding woman they take the time to teach their children something. My 15 year old son doesn’t even hesitate when he sees a breastfeeding woman. He actually will mention sometimes how it’s pretty great that they are doing that. The problem with that behavior is that people are so worried about their husbands/sons sexualizing a woman and yet THEY are the ones sexualizing each other. Men are not the issue. We women are.
      I love to see men posting here. Pretty awesome.

  117. tiffany ha ga

    I have so much to say it would take a month to reply to all you close minded contradicting supposed breastfeeding supporters. Those of you who think women should have to cover up while feeding her child your comfort infuriat me. And that lady with the 14 yr old son worried about what he will see if a woman is bfing in public… well I got news for you. Your son sees alot more actual nudity on TV and facebook and probably the girls he goes to school with then he would see from a mother feeding her child. And to the lady who complain about a woman exposing her stomach by lifting her shirt while breast feeding her child… well all I can say to that is you not right in the head. Women show alot more then their tummys just walking around town. So just shut up. The majority of breastfeeding moms do not blatantly exposes any part of their body that is not necessary to feed their baby. It’s closed minded people like the ones who had negative comments on here that make me want to NIP without a cover even more. How dare you tell me that feeding my child is indecent or inappropriate. I do not care where I am or who is around I will feed my daughter when she wants to be feed. I will not just whip out my breast b4 she is ready to latch but sorry if you can’t handle seeing skin bc that’s basically all you’ll see when i NIP bc my nipple is hidden in her mouth! So if you don’t like it don’t look and when it comes to little kids and ppl being worried they will see somthing…. All you have to say is she is feeding her baby. But honestly it’s adults who notice a bfing mom kids don’t usual pay attention. I could go on forever on all these ignorant comments but I’m tired and my daught has just finished feeding so we are going back to bed. Good night all my wonderful baby feeding mama’s and a big bite me to all you jerks who make bfing sound dirty.

  118. Anonymous

    Great article. I am not yet a mom, but I think I would feel uncomfortable about breastfeeding in public (at least at first)…but I think that comes from the same place that tells me I must be “modest” to keep men from ogling me. Which as we know not only objectifies women but also makes men seem like they have absolutely no self-control. I hope that I can learn to dress comfortably for myself and also (hopefully someday) breastfeed in public as it is undoubtedly going to be necessary at some point :)

  119. Anonymous

    Thank you! I absolutely love this. I too broke my rule about reading comments and was rather frustrated today. You made my day when I saw this post! (Someone shared it on a FB breastfeeding page I’m on.) :)

  120. scooping it up

    Annie, that comment about how baby feeding in public is selfish nearly gave me a heart attack. I hope you have some chocolate and valium to deal with that nonsense. This is what I wrote on my FB page (since I shared your article today):

    Regarding the blog post to which I linked a few hours ago: Someone in the comments suggested that it is selfish to feed a baby in public because it makes her uncomfortable and she shouldn’t have to be exposed to that. It grosses her out. For cripessake. Ya know what is selfish? Being a nincompoop. I don’t particularly enjoy watching the Naked Cowboy wearing underwear in NY. I think it’s gross. Back hair at water parks, I admit, sometimes I have to look another way. Those people, naked cowboy and back hair man at water park: showing off his package for money and/or having fun. Do people write comments about them saying “them exposing themselves in public is selfish. I shouldn’t have to see that.”

    A mother may have a tiny bit of tummy and breast exposed for a few moments to feed a hungry baby. This is life. The BEST KIND OF LIFE. If it grosses you out I suggest 1) talking to your therapist about why it grosses you out because that might be a good thing to explore
    2) look away. walk away. Your problem, NOT hungry baby and mom. And 3) it is none of your business how the mom breastfeeds. If you think baby is too old, or too much skin is showing, you have to realize, you may someday feed your kid MacDonalds every day for a week out of sheer exhaustion. Is that the best possible way to feed a child? Would every mom do that? You do NOT get to judge how another mom feeds her children. If you don’t like it, roll your eyes once you are 50 feet away. Do what you gotta do. call your sister and complain about it. 3.5) I expect you to have enough decency to be outraged by the revealing and trashy sex lounge signs up and down the high way in Dallas, right there for little boys and girls to look out the window and see the value of women, and the string bikinis at the beach showing crotches and nipples. Let’s be offended by all of it equally. But 5) By the way, those women choosing to reveal themselves, or being sexualized against their will: they are not feeding hungry or comforting sad children. Look. Away. Have enough maturity and selflessness enough to say “I don’t get this, I wouldn’t do it that way (the fav phrase of folks who aren’t mothers yet, I know I said it…) but good for that mom for doing her thing. I hope I can be that brave it it’s important to me some day.”

  121. Anonymous

    Annie, I just wanted to let you know that this is a very well-written article, and as a Registered Dietitian, I applaud people like you who support our nation’s babies in getting the best nutrition from breastfeeding, when possible.

    Also — I applaud you for your patience and perseverance with the above comments that are……..frustrating…. to say the least ;) Perhaps a glossary is needed with future blog posts?

    Keep up the great work!

  122. Anonymous

    I’m a guy and I’ve never understood the big deal with a mom feeding her baby. First off, I more than likely wouldn’t even notice the mom, and 2nd, I’d rather accidentally glance a sideboob than hear the hungry baby screaming while I’m trying to eat. I’m all about privacy… IF I notice a mom trying to feed her baby, I’ll look away out of respect to help give her her privacy.

  123. amorgan

    I have read so many of these breastfeeding articles about how breastfeeding is the best choice I agree however I don’t want to see a mother feeding her baby with her breasts in public it makes me feel uncomfortable. I choose to bottle feed both of my children because the whole breastfeeding process creeps me out (say what you want but I refuse to feel guilty for my personal feelings and choices for my children and I) I commend the woman who are willing and able to breastfeed however please stop making this issue bigger than the war on terrorism (no im not comparing breastfeeding to terrorism).

    1. Anonymous

      You say you don’t want to see a mother breastfeeding her baby in public because it makes you uncomfortable but you don’t have to watch her. Just look the other way. That’s kind of like saying you should only eat in your own home or saying seeing other people eat in public makes you uncomfortable

  124. Anonymous

    There is no good reason not to cover up. You listed 3 to which I will respond: It’s hard to balance a blanket…Really? The baby may not like it…So does that mean you do not change diapers or use an aspirator? You want eye to eye contact…You can’t do that in the hundred opportunities you have in the day? I am all for breastfeeding. I am not all for people acting as if they are the only people in the universe who matter. As simple as it is for someone to just “look away,” it’s also simple enough to turn your body, cover the baby, or do whatever you need to do so that others aren’t subject to seeing your breast. It is exhausting that you express yourself in a way that asserts that your comfort level should take front seat to my comfort level. No it shouldn’t. We live in a society which implies we exist among people.

    1. Annie Reneau

      Some babies won’t stay latched on and repeatedly pull the cover off. Some babies don’t mind it. And sure, eye to eye contact happens at other times, too. But there’s no reason a nursing mom shouldn’t have the same opportunity to look at her baby as a bottlefeeding mom does. That’s just silly.

      “It is exhausting that you express yourself in a way that asserts that your comfort level should take front seat to my comfort level.”

      But aren’t you saying that your comfort level should take front seat to a nursing mom’s and baby’s comfort level? How is that any different? (It’s not my comfort level – I’m all done nursing my babies.)

    2. SunshineMom

      I’d love to see you wrangle my second child particularly and nurse him with a blanket over his head. It was outright IMPOSSIBLE. He arched his back and screamed, tore it off at every single opportunity. There was never an option of trying to “teach” him to endure it. And now that he’s older and I know he has autism and is extremely sensitive to touch–especially light touch (like a blanket) drives him crazy–it makes perfect sense why he wouldn’t like it. I tried. But I shouldn’t have to put myself and him through that kind of torture just so someone else won’t feel momentarily discomforted.

      And I think that is why the mom’s comfort level trumps the average bystander. It isn’t really a question of who is more important. It is rather who is given the greater inconvenience? In most cases, I’d say the random stranger has less an inconvenience of a minor discomfort that they can look away from, verses a mother who would have to go through a huge rigmarole just to spare the stranger that momentary discomfort. When you look at it that way, it is easy to see why her comfort level should take priority.

    3. Anonymous

      I can honestly say I tried to cover up when I fed my three children in public. Yes….it really is hard to hold a blanket and feed a baby. I happen to be built in such a way that both hands were required to feed my children. There is no hand left over to hold that blanket. I found that I exposed myself more by trying to cover with a blanket and fighting with my child than if I just hurried and let them get latch. You can’t just use a blanket (yes the pun is intended) statement like “there is no good reason not to cover up” because a lot of times there is a good reason. Also it is not MY comfort level I’m advocating for, but that of the child’s. You, as an adult, should be able to adjust your behavior for the comfort of an infant. And yes the baby’s comfort level is more important than yours.

    4. Jacqui

      Anonymous, your logic isjust ridiculous. Your comfort is more importantvthan mine and my baby’s? Hardly. Annie, I would not bother with another reply to this troll. She clearly is getting some sort of sociopathic pleasure in engaging you. I love this rticle. I tried using one of thise “fancy” covers so I could have the eye contact with my son. I even did it at home when my dad was here bc it clearly made him uncomfrtable. It never workrd- my son just pushed the cover off, and guess ehat? My dad just decided to go somewhere else. Lesson? If it makes YOU uncomfotable, YOU need to move.

    5. Neighbour57

      Interesting fact here: breast-fed babies who have eye-contact with their mothers DURING breast-feeding have better developed eye coordination for learning to read in kindergarten or first grade.

    6. Anonymous

      Sunshine Mom, awesome comment. Excellent point. I hadn’t even consider children who were extremely sensitive to touch. A bystander has no idea about the child’s natural propensities. Only the mother can best judge how to feed her child. Those who would belittle or hassle a nursing mama can go to hell.

  125. Nicki

    I’m really disappointed in seeing such a large number of people who don’t care what people around them think, or how their actions affect others. This is the epitome of selfishness. The basic sentiment in the pro-naked-breastfeeding crowd is: I shouldn’t have to change my actions to make you happy. Wow. Not how I want to bring up my children.

    1. Annie Reneau

      Let’s imagine for a moment that the people around you think that you should always keep your ankles covered, and that your action of sitting with your ankles uncovered is offensive to them. Would it be selfish to not abide by that antiquated notion of modesty, or would it simply be trying to change a social norm that was based on overly prude ideas about female body parts? If the actions you’re wanting me to change to make you happy are unreasonable, I don’t think it’s selfish to not abide by them. I’m not saying that women should walk around “naked-breastfeeding.” But the notion that women should HAVE to cover up to feed their babies in public is based on backwards notions about breasts, in my opinion. Couldn’t it be argued that it’s selfish to want a woman to inconvenience herself and her baby in order to not show any hint of breast, when it’s much easier just to shift your sight a few inches one way or the other?

    2. Anonymous

      Nicki,
      I so agree with you. I am sick of a crybaby wimpy crowd who think they need to impose their private stuff on society for their own selfishness. I want my children to not insist society march to the beat of their personal drum. People who go around screaming for rights and imposing on society their personal private things, are odd in my book, unthoughtful and unkind and always busy yelling ‘RIGHTS!” but where is their responsibility to their neighbors?

    3. Anonymous

      Annie said:
      “…antiquated notion of modesty, …”

      my response:
      how far will you take it? remove the blouse cause its hot on the bus? and of course, society needs to put up with your need to be cool at the moment. lol how far does one take this??? keep pushing, you will have the society you want, a woman who feels inconvenienced for being thoughtful of others, is to me, part of a bigger problem with this world. everyone gets inconvenienced. It is backwards to demand society to cave into your needs for the moment. It is not that inconvenient to be thoughtful to those around you.YOU yourself and YOU have this generalized idea that YOU and your yes readers PROJECT on to others, that says its all backwards to be modest, its backwards to suffer some inconvenience, and its backwards to have to be sociable. that is what you are saying. you are projecting onto others around you. i suggest you rather do a sound research study done by sound research methods in order to arrive at a better rounded number of society than your generalized take on others around you.

    4. Anonymous

      Annie said:
      “Couldn’t it be argued that it’s selfish to want a woman to inconvenience herself and her baby in order to not show any hint of breast, when it’s much easier just to shift your sight a few inches one way or the other? “

      my response:
      this is the problem with the world. everyone wants everyone to put up with their nudity, their laziness and foot the bill too. this is the victim. always insisting everyone around them allow them to do whatever feels good to them, without thinking of others.

    5. Anonymous

      Annie said:
      “would it simply be trying to change a social norm that was based on overly prude ideas about female body parts?”

      my response:
      change a social norm that is based on overly prude ideas about female body parts??? what?? lol. prude?? but here in your statement Annie, is the underlying argument that you are busy trying to change a societal norm. this is your stated reasoning and argument here. YOU and YOUR yes readers PRESUME and ASSUME that the rest of society is prudish? is this your argument? really? lol one day, (based on your reasonings in this entire page) it may be considered prudish to wear a swimsuit at the pool or it may be considered prudish to teach 5th graders how to wear a condom, as they teach them today in some schools, or it may be one day considered prudish to wear bras or any such thing that we consider normal. its the working of lawlessness. to me, its about being thoughtful to others when nursing, its about being willing to rather inconvenience me myself and my children than cause others to stumble or falter. its about being willing to impose on me, rather than the people around me.

    6. Anonymous

      correcting my typo in the above response:
      I wrote:
      “it may be considered prudish to teach 5th graders how to wear a condom, as they teach them today in some schools,”

      what i meant to write:
      it may be considered prudish to NOT teach 5th graders to wear a condom, as they teach them in some schools today”

    7. Annie Reneau

      Anonymous, you are ascribing all kinds of motivations and philosophies to me that are totally not representative of who I am at all. It’s actually becoming a bit laughable.

      Also, this:
      “this is the problem with the world. everyone wants everyone to put up with their nudity, their laziness and foot the bill too. this is the victim. always insisting everyone around them allow them to do whatever feels good to them, without thinking of others.”

      I could turn that right around:
      This is the problem with the world. everyone wants everyone to put up with their inability to control their sexual thoughts, their laziness (to not look the other way) and foot the bill too. This is the victim. always insisting everyone around them modify their behavior to accommodate them, without thinking of others.

      In a social situation, I do think a breastfeeding mother and baby’s needs and comfort take precedence. I think that’s the way it should be, not for selfish reasons – I’m all done nursing my babies – but because I think mothers with babies should be extended an extra measure of grace. Having a baby is hard enough. Why make it harder?

    8. Mary

      Anonymous,
      I find everything you had to say ridiculous. Nursing mothers should consider the feelings of everyone else in society? They shouldn’t try to change social norms? They should worry about their obligation to their neighbors?
      Would you like to return to a society where women are property?.. because if noone challenged norms thats where you would be stuck…. or maybe we should take it farther back.
      It is no individuals concern or personal responsibility to ensure that the society around them is comfortable with their traditional behavior. Whether we are talking breastfeeding, clothing choices etc. It is society’s responsibility to foster feelings of tolerance and eventually acceptance for natural practices they may not start out understanding.
      That being said nursing in public harms none, benefits future generations and provides opportunities for social education as well as re-education. If you look at it from this less emotionally charged point of view then maybe some can begin to understand that its not about modesty or inconvenience for those around a nursing mother. Its about feeding a baby and recognizing that society and its whims are a ridiculous measuring stick for most every situation.

    9. Joanna Bourque

      @ Mary: I have been reading through all the comments between ‘Anonymous’ and Annie and I was wondering when someone was going to bring this up!

      Yes, this is about changing social norms. That is how society progresses, and it doesn’t necessarily lead to lawlessness and immorality. Women have breastfed their babies throughout the whole of human history, and in the ‘current’ age it is unacceptable in public. There are many reasons women can’t cover up, pump, or jump through the numerous hoops society expects them to just to feed their baby when he/she is hungry. However, he point is that they shouldn’t have to! Feeding a baby with your breast is a biological act. Of course there’s the argument: defecation and sex are also biological acts and you don’t do that in public. Definitely not. But not defecating in a restaurant is for public health reasons, and sex truly is a private, intimate act. You can’t equate a child eating with defecating, and I hope you are not equating a child breastfeeding with sex. That would just be….creepy.

      No mother should have to restrict her child’s dietary habits or routines because the cultural norm is that breasts are sexual. A child latched onto a breast…definitely not sexual. Maybe that’s why so many are grossed out by it.

  126. Anonymous

    btw, I nursed both my children into their first year. I never suffered at all, if it was a public place, I used a cloth diaper to cover my breast. My children never minded it in the least. They ate happily and rested peacefully under the covering. I was not determined to thrust me and any peevishness and laziness on others.

    1. SunshineMom

      And you are ONE person with two distinct people for your children. You can’t take your experience of easily covering up and apply it to everyone else. Believe me, I didn’t use a blanket very often (never worked anyway) and it was NOT out of laziness. You’re making assumptions based solely on your own experience.

  127. Anonymous

    The reasoning on modesty falls in my reading of your arguments. You have argued that just because the rest of culture sexualizes the breast and its seen in porno and on beaches in see through clothing, that somehow makes it okay for a breastfeeding mother, who is nourishing her child with her breasts to expose her breasts too, because you are arguing that, “heck! whole world shows their tits,why not us?” its a reactive stance to nourishing your child and faulty logic in arguing.

    1. Annie Reneau

      I’m not sure if you’re replying to me or to another comment, but I think this is a good point. That point is more about societal norms as a whole. I didn’t say anything about porn or see-through clothing, but let’s use low-cut tops and bikinis as an example. Those are pretty widely accepted as a social norm, but breastfeeding isn’t—even though breastfeeding generally shows less breast, and for a totally different reason, than those things do. It’s not the argument that showing breasts in other contexts is okay, therefore it should be for breastfeeding; it’s just pointing out the hypocritical stance society as a whole has about seeing breasts.

    2. Anonymous

      you said:
      “Those are pretty widely accepted as a social norm, but breastfeeding isn’t”
      my response:
      i disagree, I believe most of the world is accepting of breast feeding infants.

      You said:
      “it’s just pointing out the hypocritical stance society as a whole has about seeing breasts.”

      my response:
      See? you are always so reactive to the culture in this argument. You are more concerned here in pointing out the hypocrisy of the world around us than you are about nursing your child. Who cares if the world is hypocritical??? what does their hypocrisy have to do with your behavior?

    3. Anonymous

      you said:
      “”it’s just pointing out the hypocritical stance society as a whole has about seeing breasts.””

      my response:
      i do not believe there is as much hypocrisy as you seem to be busy projecting onto society at large in such a broad and general stroke of your small world and perception. Personally, I have great angst against pornography, and i applaud women who nurture their infants with their God given means of milk to them. I also applaud women who nurture, nourish and love deeply their children with bottle feeding.

    4. Annie Reneau

      Um, yes, most of the world is accepting of breastfeeding infants, but society here in America is generally not. At least, there’s a good chunk who aren’t, otherwise we wouldn’t be having this conversation. But this: “I have great angst against pornography, and i applaud women who nurture their infants with their God given means of milk to them. I also applaud women who nurture, nourish and love deeply their children with bottle feeding.” On all of those points we agree 100%. :)

    5. Anonymous

      I live in a majority Muslim country, and women here breastfeed in public. Women who won’t show their hair, their wrists, and sometimes even their faces breastfeed in public. I don’t think anyone in their right mind would accuse these women of being immodest, but they still breastfeed in public. Annie is right, most of the world is more accepting of breastfeeding infants.

  128. Anonymous

    Article excerpt:
    “Covering up implies that there’s something inappropriate about feeding a baby. There’s not. It’s feeding a baby. That’s it.”

    My response:
    i am so sorry you yourself and your yes readers all feel that covering up means or implies something inappropriate! See?, this is the backwardness of this argument. They assume we all feel the feelings they feel about THEIR breasts. Just because many millions of mothers cover their breasts when feeding their infant, does not then, mean that all women feel it is something inappropriate to feed or rather nurse their child. I fear you and your yes readers all might possibly carry baggage and seek to deal with your baggage in a very public manner, demanding society to change for personal issues. It is the victims stance. I am so sorry that you and your yes readers seem to carry this baggage on you about the breasts the Good Lord created you with.That is so sad! Not everyone feels that baggage though, and covering ones breasts is about being modest, kind, considerate to others, being willing to do what one needs to do to promote social peace and not always kicking against the pricks of life.

    1. Annie Reneau

      I’m sorry, but all I can really do is laugh at how far you had to stretch to get to where you are in this comment. I can see the first part, because I wasn’t totally clear on that point. It’s not the act covering up itself that implies inappropriateness (although that could be argued, I think), it’s other people telling moms they need to cover up that does that. If a woman wants to cover up because it makes her more comfortable, or even because she wants to make others feel comfortable, that’s totally her choice. But to TELL a breastfeeding mom that she SHOULD cover up does, in fact, imply that she’s doing something inappropriate.

      However, the baggage thing is just plain strange. I’m really not carrying any baggage about my breasts, I promise. I could easily try to make the opposite argument, that women who cover up to breastfeed must be carrying around some baggage about their breasts, but I won’t. I don’t think that’s true, and I don’t think it furthers the discussion.

      I could also argue that people shouldn’t make a big deal out of breastfeeding in public in order to be kind and considerate and promote social peace. From my perspective, it’s much more offensive and socially intrusive to gawk or vocally disapprove or tell moms they should cover up than it is to breastfeed your baby in public. Modesty is fine, but also totally subjective. To me, breastfeeding, even without a cover, is rarely immodest.

    2. Anonymous

      we do not see eye to eye, and I do heartily and emphatically disagree with your reasonings and your way of seeing it. Your arguments to me, fall short of logical debate. If i used some of your arguments, I could also promote wearing no shirts for women at all in public. (e.g. “how unfair is it to impose on women to cover up their torso or chest or breasts that were so nurturing to their infants?!”) this is the arguments you rest your case on. Because to you, “natural” means if its natural then others have to put up with your nudity and you must thrust personal things into public eyes, so everyone around you has to put up with your need to not cover and we must tolerate and put up with all manner of undignifying women the world over. the spirit of lawlessless.

    3. Annie Reneau

      Nope, not even close to understanding my arguments at all, and based on your own faulty logic, I don’t expect you to. Wearing no shirt at all because you revere your breasts for nurturing your infants is not an argument I would ever ever make, and I’m not sure how you even got there. When you’re breastfeeding you’re USING your breasts to feed your baby, not showing them off. And for the record, I’m actually not a fan of nudity. And I really wish you’d stop saying I thrust anything anywhere. I actually did cover up sometimes when I nursed, depending on the social situation I was in. But I would never tell another mother she should. You don’t know any given mom’s situation, you don’t know whether her baby would refuse to be covered (sometimes my kids were fine with it, sometimes there was no way to keep the cover on), and I think anything that makes breastfeeding easier for moms should be supported. And by the same token, anything that makes it harder (such as making moms feel shamed for feeding their babies in public) should be critically evaluated.

    4. Raelynn Jordan

      Besides Anon that in many cultures women don’t wear tops, and in many states they have non-discrimination laws saying that women don’t have to keep their chests and breasts covered if they don’t want to.
      I’m sorry, Anon but you seem either very pulling at straws, either from your own insecurities, or more likely, you could just be a troll.

    5. Anonymous

      Annie, you are much too kind. This person is obviously very ignorant and does not deserve your time or kindness.

  129. Anonymous

    Article excerpt: “Of course, there are always some unnecessarily mean people, but some sentiments that come up frequently are legitimately well-meaning.”

    my response to said statement:
    before you even get into the article, you have already assured your yes readers, anyone who thinks you are incorrect, somehow might be one of those “mean” sentimental people out there in the www, just giving young mothers a hard time. i know how difficult and how hot and hard work it is to put a cloth diaper over you, and i am so sorry it is a painful problem to do that. Your statement of adjudging some commentators as mean and having some legitimately well meaning sentiments, pigeon holes people who disagree with you, for all your pro readers who agree with views on the matter.

    1. Annie Reneau

      Hmm. I think you’re misunderstanding what legitimately well-meaning sentiments are. That’s a positive phrase, not a negative one, which is why I pointed out that some people can be mean (which they can) but some have thoughts/concerns/opinions that are coming from a place of meaning well. I was giving people the benefit of the doubt that the questions and comments I was addressing aren’t usually coming from a place of meanness, but from a place of legitimate concern and meaning well in their thought process. The “unnecessarily mean” and the “legitimately well-meaning” are opposites.

    2. Anonymous

      I did not misunderstand. The descriptive words are words that carry connotative meanings. I was merely pointing out that your choice of words, might predispose your yes readers to assume on those who disagree. Again, I did not misunderstand you. I just flat out right disagree with your article and reasoning and your presumptions about those who disagree with strong feelings about such an issue.

    3. Annie Reneau

      Sorry, but either you did misunderstand or you’re deliberately trying to be argumentative. Those first questions and comments I addressed—including the difficulty with covering up question—I think are legitimate questions. How would pointing that out make someone think that if they disagreed I’d think they were mean? In fact, I was deliberately pointing out that people who have problems with breastfeeding in public are NOT trying to be mean by posing those thoughts and quesitons. You totally missed the point.

    4. Anonymous

      I think the other Anonymous reader is trying to express something you don’t seem to be addressing in your replies. In that paragraph, you could have said more simply: “Some sentiments that come up frequently are legitimately well-meaning. …”. This approach would have avoided the comment about people who are “unnecessarily mean”. And this approach would have avoided a juxtaposition.

      Perhaps the other Anonymous is concerned that you’re defining the entire argument space as one of two options… i.e. people either express legitimate well-meaning sentiments or people are unnecessarily mean. I think the other Anonymous might think that there is some space between these two positions… that some people are neither unnecessarily mean nor expressing a sentiment that you’d regard as legitimate and well-meaning.

      In this binary approach, it could come across that you are chastising anyone for having a view opposing yours but that doesn’t fit into the “legitimate well-meaning” ones you discussed. Or even that if their question is the same as you present and discuss, but your answer doesn’t fully cover the nuance of their view on the matter… that perhaps you’d regard them as “unnecessarily mean” for not being prepared to fully subscribe to your views.

      And even further, the other Anonymous might be concerned that as a result of writing in this juxtaposed manner, that some of the readers who entirely support your views might end up regarding people who hold any other view as “unnecessarily mean” people (where they might not have been inclined to come to this view had you expressed yourself differently).

      Personally, I think it is such a small part of the article that I battle to draw the same conclusions as the other Anonymous. I strongly support your article in every way.

      In my opinion, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and to expressing it. So the person who doesn’t agree with feeding babies in public is entitled to share their views however they choose. Though they should be prepared that they might get a response, and that response might not be something they’d like to hear. And the defensive response might come from a bystander rather than the mother feeding her baby.

  130. Anonymous

    As a mother of three I never breastfed. I agree every woman has the right to chose how they feed their child, I don’t think you should be breastfeeding in public with covering. I personally don’t like it. I don’t wanna see it. I myself don’t like the idea of my child latched on to me to feed reason why I didn’t do it. To see a woman out in public with her boob out attaching a baby or toddler to it makes me sick. I’m sure I am gonna get a ton of negative feed back but this is my opinion.

    1. Suzi Satterfield

      As a mother of three, I never breastfed either. I did try with my last child out of some socially imposed guilt… and I vomited. But with that in mind… If you don’t want to see it, then don’t look at it. It took me YEARS to get to the point where I could be comfortable with someone breastfeeding in my vicinity, but even then, I was smart enough to realize one simple fact.

      If a mother is breastfeeding, there are several other directions to look so that I don’t have to see it. But if that baby is screaming because s/he is hungry, there is no place in the vicinity that will not hear it.

      TL;DR BTDT, don’t like it, then look elsewhere. Your desire to not see something does not trump a baby’s need to eat.

    2. nautalus

      Anon mother of 3, who did not BF. you say mothers should have the right to feed how they choose, but I see you did not get a choice due to the psychological issues you had regarding breastfeeding. Suzi, who had similar issues, I commend for overcoming them enough to welcome mothers to breastfed in public, and she encourages those who are uncomfortable, like you and she, to look away to preserve mother and babies public opportunity to breastfeed.

    3. Anonymous

      Yes, that is your opinion. Just that, an opinion. You don’t get to dictate policy just because something makes you sick. That’s your issue, your hang-up.

  131. Nicki

    I’m sorry, but modesty is modesty. I am not crazy about bikinis or other public breast exposure, and I certainly won’t expose my own breasts. The larger your breasts, the more impossible it is to hide your private areas (and yes, to me, breasts are a private area).

    It’s actually okay to cover a baby during nursing, and there are many cool nursing covers out there that don’t put you in a wrestling match with your baby. Babies who are nursing are used to whatever they start with. Saying “I wouldn’t want to eat under a blanket” assumes that you have a lifetime of experience eating in certain situations, and you have learned that eating under a blanket is not one of your favorite. Babies don’t have that experience. If they always nurse, and many times under a blanket, they aren’t thinking, “Hey! Why should I have to eat under a blanket if my mom doesn’t???” Seriously.

    Boys of all ages and men of all ages are attracted to the sight of a female body. Period. Do everyone’s sons and husbands a favor and don’t whip it out in public.

    1. VenusBug

      I’m sorry, but I’m not going to overly concern myself with covering my hungry baby because other people are “incapable” of controlling their thoughts. Breasts are for feeding babies, and seeing part of a breast while a baby is eating makes you think sexual thoughts, that is entirely your problem and not mine.

      Saying, “Do everyone’s sons and husbands a favor and don’t whip it out in public” is like saying “Don’t look too attractive so guys aren’t tempted to sexual harrass or assault you.” I owe your husbands and sons nothing. I’m not responsible for what men think or do, and I’m not responsible for what teenage boys think or do. That’s their problem, and the problem of their puritanical parents. Your discomfort with bodies does not mean I have to accommodate you for it. I shouldn’t have to raise my baby in accordance with your judgmental and immature views.

      Don’t look. Or if they just can’t help themselves because they don’t know self-control or respect, you can take your husbands and sons home, and leave the place where the offensive/too sexy breast is making itself known.

    2. Brittany

      When I had to nurse in public I would use a cover just for my own comfort and I knew it made my husband more comfortable (if he was with me) and when my son was a newborn it wasn’t a big deal. As he got older- around the 9-10 month age- he hated the cover. Now, I did rarely use it, but he would immediately grab it and throw it off if I tried to put it over him. Just because you start with something doesn’t mean they’ll “be used to it” and accept it willingly.

    3. SunshineMom

      Many babies will NOT accept a blanket, even from the start (assuming that as a new mom you can figure out the difficulty of latching on from under a blanket–which is an achievement unto itself.) There will, of course, be some babies who will. But just because some will accept it, doesn’t mean they all will. My son is a prime example of that. He’d scream, arch his back, pull off blankets, etc. and very simply just NOT eat. He was not gaining weight either so there was no way I was going to put a stranger’s comfort level over my son’s eating, no matter how I had to accomplish it. Turns out he has autism and is extremely sensitive to light touch (like blankets) and it drives him crazy. Even if a child does not have autism or another extenuating circumstance, they are BABIES and don’t understand anything except their own discomfort and hunger.

      As far as men and boys go, they are capable of controlling their own thoughts and the more often they get opportunities to realize that breasts have another function other than for their enjoyment, the better. A woman breastfeeding around my husband bothers him not at all. Probably helped that he spent some time in another country as a young man where women constantly nursed uncovered in public with no attempts to be discreet. Nursing moms are not responsible for a man’s thoughts. Nor is any woman, no matter what normal activity she is doing.

      If you don’t want to see, don’t look. Not looking is a minor inconvenience compared to the trouble you want a nursing mother to take just so you can look anywhere you want and not feel discomfort.

    4. Lisa S.

      I have a size G breasts (that’s one bigger than size DDD) and I’ve always managed to nurse without a cover and not having it all hang out, through three breastfed babies. Even if I DID have to have it all hang out, so what? Breasts can be sexual, but they’re not always sexual, and it’s perfectly legal in a bunch of states for women to walk around topless in public. We use our mouths in sexual ways, but no one expects anyone to throw a blanket over their head every time they eat a banana.

    5. Lisa marie

      Well, not all men are attracted to women… and not only men are attracted to women. But I have a feeling u wouldn’t accept that rationale either. Breasts r beautiful. Breasts r everywhere. How comfortable women are with them, is not a public concern. If ur husband is staring; smack him. He’s a big boy and should know better. Got yonge kids? Tell them it’s only natural and move on.

    6. Anonymous

      Brittany, I agree. I nursed my first baby with a cover often, and he had no objections when I used it. My second son however, used it successfully for the first 6 or 7 months, and then would fight endlessly to get it off. He just wanted to be free to look around. Babies are naturally curious about their world and it isn’t wrong to let them look around. I personally preferred to nurse with a covering when I could, but at the bottom of it, it’s far more important to me that my baby be comfortable than anyone else.

  132. Anonymous

    i do so strongly disagree with this article. I was never so reactive to the culture when I nursed my children and knew I did not have to prove some point to the culture. i do disagree with this what I consider in my opinion to be immature and backwards take on this.

  133. Paradox

    Excellent article! Funny how my friend posted the link on FB for me to see just after I left the pediatrician’s office where I had been trying to nurse my 2 month old daughter under a cover but threw the cover aside because it was too difficult. Feeding my daughter who was just about to get her shots done was more important than covering what was exposed of my breast.

    I actually have to say how shocked I am at how much of an issue breastfeeding is in the US. I grew up in France where it is one of the most natural things in the world and where no one bats an eyelid. Women in France routinely go topless on the beach and no one sees it as a sexual thing… Many a time did I go to the beach with my friends as a teenager and never would I see any of my male friends leering at topless women! This is because breasts are a natural part of a woman’s body, and people are brought up not to make a huge deal out of them! My mother never had to explain to me or my (male) cousin what she was doing when my brother was born – it was natural for her to feed him this way and we knew this! I’m 36 and most people I know were breastfed.

    Some of the comments on here have shocked me. So if I am inept at covering myself when I am nursing I shouldn’t have a child?! We might all be wonderful parents if we had three hands, but unfortunately that’s not a reality! It makes me sad to think that so many people gave up on breastfeeding early because they didn’t have the support that they need to continue. I don’t “whip my boob out for all to see” as some people seem to think breastfeeding women do all the time, but if I show some nipple while my daughter is latching on, so be it. Just look away.

    People really need to stop making such a big deal out of something so natural! And I would strongly advise people who are against breastfeeding in public to avoid European beaches as there are breast everywhere.

  134. Anonymous

    You can argue all day but until public indecent exposure laws are changed, you still can’t usually bare your breasts in public even if you think you are entitled to, the argument is with the laws not the general public who chooses to follow laws even when inconvenient. Take the argument to the proper party, for change to happen people will need to vote on the change.

    1. Annie Reneau

      Actually, many public indecency laws do not consider the female breast to be genitalia. And almost every state has specific laws protecting mothers’ rights to breastfeed anywhere in public. (45 out of 50, if I’m not mistaken.) So the legal issue isn’t really an issue.

    2. Anonymous

      http://breastfeedinglaw.com/

      As you will note, there are both federal and state laws protecting a woman’s right to breastfeed (covered or not, her choice) in public places. This is not considered indecent exposure. In fact, a woman’s nipple is not even considered in indecency laws in many states (generally the anus and genitals are included in indecency laws, and lewdness is considered by law rather than nudity in some states, such as Vermont.)

  135. Jasmine DSilva

    Thanks so much Annie, your article was beautifully written. Mothers out there who worry about nursing in public would be highly inspired. Your article touched on all the important areas. Society is so messed up when we accept people baring their breasts through their clothes but not when nourishing precious human life. I’m African and the whole village in Africa thing is actually humorous to me cos in the big African city I grew up, more and more people have western reactions to nursing in public, but they never go as far as kicking a woman out for nursing her child. I nursed my daughter here in Toronto for almost two and a half years in a walmart or at a barbecue, wherever and never cared what people thought. Knowing the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms actually guarantees my right to nurse publicly – cover or no, spurred me on. It made me mad to hear of ignorant people who asked women not to nurse in public. My toddler was always big for her age so I got extra glares when nursing her in public cos she looked four! I honestly couldn’t care less. I hope to do the same and nurse even longer with my next child, if I’m blessed to have one. Thanks so much for such an inspiring article. It really warmed my heart. Our society is greatly troubled if we don’t see the need for a paradigm shift in the way we see breastfeeding in public vis-a-vis people’s preoccupation with sex. To the lady who said she doesn’t want her 14yr-old son seeing a woman’s nipple, it is your responsibility to expand your son’s mind so he understands that the more important use for breasts is nourishing children, not sexual pleasure. Seriously, isn’t it obvious where the misconception is? How does it make sense to anyone that between the issue of 1- nursing publicly(nourishing a child naturally) and 2-viewing breasts as only sexual, that the issue is women should not nurse publicly? Isn’t it clear that the issue is people need to think outside the bedroom? It’s baffling that people can be so closed-minded and unable to see the more important issue.

    1. Annie Reneau

      Exactly. The fact that breasts are seen as sexual IS the reason people need to see breastfeeding more. It is possible to separate the two functions if that’s what you’ve always known.

    2. Anonymous

      I am currently 8 mos. pregnant with my first and for the past several weeks I have been doing an insane amount of reading about breast feeding (which I fully intend to do exclusively for 6 months and then continuing w/ solids for a year at least, and then see where we’re at). I have joined all kinds of support groups and tried to familiarize myself with every aspect of it, including breastfeeding in public. What’s crazy to me is this: I, as a woman, prior to becoming pregnant, thought the same way some of the people in the article thought. I thought seeing a breast exposed in public was not necessary (not that it shouldn’t be acceptable, I actually thought more along the lines of “wouldn’t that mom want some privacy instead of her boob being there for everyone to see?”). Anyway, since all of my research and reading, I’ve seen so many pictures and videos, that I absolutely agree with the theory of a mentality shift in society. For me now, when I see a picture of a breastfeeding mom, or a video, i’m like “oh, there’s a boob.” And it’s not a big deal at all, because I agree, it’s the intent of the woman that matters, not the visual of a breast. If I saw a video of a woman stripping and showing off her boobs, I’d still be like “ahem, cover yourself.” So it makes sense that if more people were educated and aware and had visuals of breastfeeding women, they would be able to mentally separate that function of the boob from a sexual one.

  136. Jasmine DSilva

    Thanks so much Annie, your article was beautifully written. Mothers out there who worry about nursing in public would be highly inspired. Your article touched on all the important areas. Society is so messed up when we accept people baring their breasts through their clothes but not when nourishing precious human life. I’m African and the whole village in Africa thing is actually humorous to me cos in the big African city I grew up, more and more people have western reactions to nursing in public, but they never go as far as kicking a woman out for nursing her child. I nursed my daughter here in Toronto for almost two and a half years in a walmart or at a barbecue, wherever and never cared what people thought. Knowing the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms actually guarantees my right to nurse publicly – cover or no, spurred me on. It made me mad to hear of ignorant people who asked women not to nurse in public. My toddler was always big for her age so I got extra glares when nursing her in public cos she looked four! I honestly couldn’t care less. I hope to do the same and nurse even longer with my next child, if I’m blessed to have one. Thanks so much for such an inspiring article. It really warmed my heart. Our society is greatly troubled if we don’t see the need for a paradigm shift in the way we see breastfeeding in public vis-a-vis people’s preoccupation with sex. To the lady who said she doesn’t want her 14yr-old son seeing a woman’s nipple, it is your responsibility to expand your son’s mind so he understands that the more important use for breasts is nourishing children, not sexual pleasure. Seriously, isn’t it obvious where the misconception is? How does it make sense to anyone that between the issue of 1- nursing publicly(nourishing a child naturally) and 2-viewing breasts as only sexual, that the issue is women should not nurse publicly? Isn’t it clear that the issue is people need to think outside the bedroom? It’s baffling that people can be so closed-minded and unable to see the more important issue.

  137. Anonymous

    What’s to explain? All that has to be said in response to a child’s inquiry is, “the baby is eating.” My kids think bottle feeding an infant is weird and funny, but I wouldn’t want ask someone to cover up their bottle-drinking baby just because I don’t want to deal with explaining it.
    Also, I think sticking a baby under a blanket invites more questions from kids. “What’s the baby doing?” “Can I see it?” “Is it sleeping?” Etc.

  138. Anonymous

    When LO was born, I was so embarrassed about my body and scared of someone seeing any part of it that I would use a cover in my own home if anyone other than my husband was there! If we were in public and she got hungry, I’d take her to the car and feed her there. My husband is the one who encouraged me to just feed her when she’s hungry and not to worry about what anyone around us thought. His words were, “Is she hungry? Yes. Are you able to feed her safely? Yes. Do you really care more about what some random person you’re never going to see again thinks than feeding your daughter?” Now, the only place I wear a cover is at church and that’s only if I remember to throw it in the diaper bag. If she gets hungry, she eats. If someone is offended by me caring for my child in the best way I am able, then they clearly have too much time on their hands and should find a new hobby other than harassing new moms. We’re already tapped out enough.

  139. Anonymous

    I was thoroughly enjoying this article until you said “she was raised in Africa, so that explains it.”
    NO. NO NO NO NO NO NO NO.

    I resent this and the following African paragraph and I can’t get myself to ignore it.

    Africa is a CONTINENT. Not one place/country.
    Just like different areas in the U.S or more accurately, different countries may share different views about this, so do the views vary within the continent of Africa.

    NO. A breast is NOT a common sight in “Africa.” A breast might be a common sight in whatever country or village you learned about on National Geographic. But in many countries in West Africa, for example, if your breast was “common sight,” you’d probably be arrested among other things.
    Please don’t just throw media-perpetuated, inaccurate, ignorant views of “Africa” in here to validate your (true and very well versed) point. It’s hurtful.

    No love lost. Sure it wasn’t intentional. Thank you for the rest.

    1. Annie Reneau

      You are absolutely right. No, not intentional at all. To be honest, I was taking that question word-for-word (“This isn’t a village in Africa . . .) from a comment on another article and answering it in the way that I thought someone coming from that viewpoint might understand it best. But you’re right, it does perpetuate narrow, inaccurate views of Africa, and that’s not fair. Thank you for pointing it out.

    1. Anonymous

      hum…. always pushing against the boundaries of social norms….”why should we” ? … “why should we” …?

  140. Jennifer

    I don’t get what there even is to explain? I feed my 3 month old around my 2.5 year old all the time (and had things gone differently, that 2.5 year old might still have been nursing himself, but my milk dried up when pregnant, so he weaned at that time, which is fine, but it also would have been fine if he had continued wanting to nurse after baby was here).

    When he sees me start to get settled, “feed _baby’s name__ milk?” “yes, sweetie, I’m feeding ___ her milk”.

    If I had not had another child after him, and we were out in public…
    “what’s that, mommy?”
    “that lady is feeding her baby, sweetie”
    “oh, feed baby?”
    “yes, that’s right”
    “ok”

  141. Anonymous

    As far as i know, men are easily aroused visually by the curves and breast of women. Children and teen have curiosity over the difference in body structure of men and women. So exposing ones breast which is one of women’s private part and expecting everyone to look away is not going to happen. Baby feeding is never a wrong thing. But I would say it is a private intimate and pure moment between the mom and the baby. Many articles and authors were encouraging this. It is not a good idea. If you are telling that exposing breast in public is not a fault during feeding then, is exposing the breast itself is not a fault? Can girls and women just go topless like that thinking that men and children will understand those breast were mend for baby feeding only? No way. If women are feeling shy to expose their breast before giving birth why not after giving birth? You are just going to unintentionally creating an opportunity for unknown bunch of men around you to have a good look at one of your private body part for FREE.

    How would you give a solution for this situation: A young mom (22 years old) want to feed her baby. She is surrounded by only guys at that moment. Do you think she can feed comfortably and do you expect all men to look at it in a sacred way?

    My suggestion is: Dear moms, please fight for your right in the right way. Demand for all the public places (restaurants, train station, shopping complex, malls, recreational parks and etc) to build rooms for baby feeding. DEMAND IT AND YOU WILL HAVE A BETTER ENVIRONMENT WITH PRIVATE SPACE TO BABY FEED OUTDOOR.

    1. Annie Reneau

      I think it’s a reasonable argument to say that the reason for ONLY arousal at seeing breasts and for the continued curiosity of children and teens is that not enough kids are brought up seeing breastfeeding. It is entirely possible to separate the sexual function of breasts and the nourishing function of breasts. My husband is a perfect example. He was raised with breastfeeding being totally normal. He doesn’t bat an eye when a woman breastfeeds. It’s a totally different thing than exposing a breast for the heck of it.

      And I’m not convinced of breastfeeding being a private, intimate act. I nursed three babies to three years old. Bonding, yes. Intimate, meh. As I said in the article, it’s more of a holding hands kind of intimacy. I feel like calling it “private” and “intimate” automatically equates it with sexuality. It makes it a much bigger deal than it is.

      Personally, I would usually turn away or cover up to get latched on or keep a blanket near my breast in case my baby decided to pop on and off (which happened frequently). I do think there is a place for a bit of discreetness when it comes to breastfeeding in front of others. But I don’t think it’s necessary to go to great lengths to make sure no breast is ever ever seen.

    2. Anonymous

      fighting for rights. Fight for your rights we hear this generation and the word “demand” is everywhere, but Paul did not say that, rather to be defrauded than to offend and cause stumbling in others. fighting, demanding, thinking only of their own comfort. a generation whose ‘their’ rights are most important in the world, who reckon “demanding” is the better way and the higher road to a life well lived.

    3. Anonymous

      Actually, in Canada it is perfectly legal for women and girls to go topless anywhere that men are permitted to go topless. There you go.

    4. deirdrebeth

      In New York it’s also legal for women to go topless because anything else would be discrimination. Some municipalities have created laws against anyone going topless though generally they’re only used against streakers/flashers/etc. which is why you rarely hear of women being arrested for feeding in public.
      Go to: http://gotopless.org/topless-laws if you’d like to see a breakdown of the laws.

    5. Jessi

      I find a man’s shoulders and biceps to be sexually arousing. Therefore, instead of curbing my own desires and showing self-discipline and restraint, all men need to wear sleeves that extent to at least the elbow. If they want to wear short sleeves, or go sleeveless, they need to do so in a private area.

    6. Amber (EyesofAmber)

      The idea of a nursing room or mother’s lounge is truly lovely and I have enjoyed being able to use those types of situations. However, I have four children. Would you then suggest that in order to feed the baby I take all the others into that room or area with me? I think if it’s an issue of men being sexually aroused that sounds to me like a problem on the part of the man, not the baby who needs to be fed.

    7. Anonymous

      As a breastfeeding mother who regularly breastfeeds wherever and whenever with no problems or negativity, I’m in no position to *demand* anything. I’ve had no pervy or leery stares. Everyone gets on with their day. Im walking down the street, baby needs a feed. I find the nearest bench and sit and feed or I use it as an excuse for a lovely cup of decaf coffee and find a café. And I sit there and we both have a drink. Civilised and we dont put anyone out.

    8. Anonymous

      I’m a young mom, 23, I feed my son wherever we may be, regardless of whose around. If there is a swarm of men around I will still feed my son because he is hungry. It would not make me uncomfortable. Also, most of the time nobody even notices when i am feeding.

    9. Anonymous

      There is a culture that believes WOMEN must cover themselves entirely because MEN are so susceptible to temptation that the mere sight of a woman’s flesh might drag them down into sin. Women wear burkas to “protect” them from the base behavior of men; they are being “cherished” not “restricted.” Really? Men can’t help being aroused at the sight of a woman’s breast when she is feeding her baby? The same way a group of teen age boys can’t pass up gang raping a passed out girl at a party? Boys will be boys, and girls should know better, huh?

  142. Anonymous

    I breastfeed in front of my two year old stepson as often as I need to. We’ve explained to him one time that this is how baby eats , and he never needed anymore explanation. He loves to watch us and share in the smiles and cuddling when I feed my daughter, and it’s never been difficult for him to understand that it’s natural and accept it. I’ve had to explain to many other people’s children why I’m breastfeeding and I’ve never run into problems with children being scared, nervous or anything but a little bit curious. Its not difficult for children to accept breastfeeding , it’s parents that have a problem. I agree with everything in this article. Thank you for writing it .

  143. Anonymous

    I just wonder did anyone made complains while feeding in public about getting too much attention? A few years ago, I saw a woman complained to the restaurant manager that while she was feeding uncovered, the waiter was looking at her. She will report to the police if nothing was done about it. I sometimes wonder, is that the reason why women are told to cover up to feed in public.

  144. Jennifer Van Pelt

    First I want to say that I am pro-breastfeeding. I am also an adoptive mom who doesn’t have the opportunity to breast feed my baby. I am speaking from the perspective of a woman who went through 6+ years of infertility and now finally has her dream baby through adoption. When I was ‘trying’ to get pregnant and especially after the losses of each of my 3 babies, I had a VERY difficult time seeing a mother nurse in public. Often I was in situations where it was not possible to “just look away”. As a new adoptive mom, it was also difficult for me to see mom’s nursing and at that point I was (and still am) surrounded by mom’s doing it because I was joining Mom Groups! I hope I never made any of them uncomfortable with strange looks etc., but I know I had some extremely emotional and sad moments knowing I would never be able to experience what I was seeing over and over right in front of me.
    I applaud you for standing up for what you believe and for fighting for women in America to be able to nurse their babies without shame or anxiety. I want that also. I would just hope you would also think about and appreciate that some individuals have very personal reasons that make it difficult for them to see and they also have a right to their feelings on the matter.

    1. Annie Reneau

      I sincerely appreciate where you are coming from. I’m assuming you’re not saying women shouldn’t bf in public for that reason, though. Because by the same logic, one could make the argument that we shouldn’t have our babies out in public at all because there are moms who struggle with infertility, or whose babies have died, and seeing babies is painful for them. I’m not trying to diminish your feelings, just pointing out that there are a lot of very normal things that might make certain moms feel sad or hurt because of their experiences. I think it’s beautiful that you got your dream baby through adoption. Congratulations. :)

    2. scooping it up

      I am an adoptive mom. I do NOT think that breastfeeding mothers should have to cover up because my uterus sucks. That is ridiculous. That is like saying “will mothers with biological children not take them out in public all looking the same because it is hurtful to me that none of my kids share my DNA.” Sorry, not a breastfeeding mom’s problem. It isn’t about you. Or me. It is about THAT mom, THAT baby, and covers DO NOT WORK for some people, and they shouldn’t have to.

    3. Jennifer Van Pelt

      I am not saying that mothers should not breastfeed in public because my uterus doesn’t work. I am saying that it is sometimes difficult for me to see, and I have a right to feel the way I do. I am just pointing out that some people in the world might have a different reason for not wanting to see breastfeeding happening, a reason other than thinking it is wrong or shouldn’t happen in public.

      Two other points I haven’t seen addressed…

      1. This was brought up in a discussion between several of my breastfeeding friends….they prefer to cover up in public because of ‘perverts’ who go around and capture photos with their phones or other devices then use those photos for their own purposes. (Just something to consider when you are out in public)

      2. Breastfeeding is a choice (unless you don’t have that choice, as in my case) and I have experienced more times than I can count other mothers ‘looking down on’, ‘shaming’, ‘berating’ and ‘judging’ me for NOT breastfeeding. I have been told I should be breastfeeding and there is just no excuse! If I can’t do it myself, I should be buying milk from someone else and feeding that to my baby. These reactions and comments have come from numerous women. Most who know nothing about my situation or child. I truly wish we could ALL just raise our children the way we feel is best for our children and strangers would just butt the heck out!

    4. Anonymous

      I would like to kindly let you know about being able to possibly breastfeed any adopted children you have, whether you have been pregnant or not. It might not work, but it is possible. Just google breastfeeding adopted babies and read up on it, and also you can talk to your doctor. :) I recently found out about it myself and thought it was a really awesome thing. :) Congrats on your little one.

    5. Amber (EyesofAmber)

      Jennifer,

      I definitely can say that my heart goes out to you as I struggled with infertility myself. I really wanted to address the second point you made about being looked down upon for not nursing. I think that’s an issue just as important as the right of nursing mothers to do so in public. We need to learn to join together as mothers and support each other in doing our best to raise our children. I was not able to nurse my oldest and I have to say that he and I certainly could not have had a closer bond if I had been able to. In the long run the act of holding and cradling your child in your arms is the most important part of the feeding process and produces that bonding. Raising a child is a hard enough job and no one should be made to feel as though they are somehow failing their child because they are giving them a bottle or a bottle of formula. If you can nurse, it’s wonderful. If you can’t, you should never be made to feel less of a mother.

    6. Becky W

      Many adoptive moms in her situation choose not to pump their bodies full of the hormones required to induce lactation because they still have a hope of getting pregnant. I complete agree with her that people pressure you to breastfeed – they mean to be supportive and encouraging – but its pressure. I work FT and pumped twice a day at work (30 min x 2), then spent at least 30 min filling & washing bottles each evening, until my baby was 10 months old (then dropped to 1x per day til she was 11 mo, supplementing with cowmilk). I took 90 minutes a day out of my life just due to pumping for nearly a year… and then when I reduced it, people (including our pediatrician) pressured me to continue. It was nuts. She was getting all but 1 or 2 bottles a day of breastmilk, but she was no longer EBF.

    7. Heather Kramer

      Jennifer, I’m so sorry for your losses but so happy you got you baby. Thank you for commenting on that subject. I agree 100% as a breastfeeding mom that just because you don’t breastfeed you shouldn’t be looked down upon. Anonymous, as far as the breastfeeding adopted children, and such, some women simply can’t breastfeed. I had a very close friend hate herself and feel less of a mom because she could physically not breastfeed. It does happen, and these mothers also need to be supported, more by the community they hoped to be in but can’t because of their bodies.

    8. Kim Riddle

      I totally understand what you’re saying. I’m a birthmother – my daughter never experienced breastfeeding or breast milk. I would be horrified to learn that her adoptive mom caught flak for not breastfeeding her adopted baby! She was 40 when she adopted my daughter & had never had a child – I highly doubt she could have produced even if she tried.

      I get where you’re coming from – because of my inability to feed my only living child, I feel like I’ve seriously missed out (her too!). I feel sad sometimes when I see nursing babies (or babies in general, or pregnant women, or a baby hanging out with mom AND dad) but in the end, I feel happy for those babies & their families for having a natural and healthy bond. I understand that you’re supportive of natural feeding and that seeing it causes mixed emotions for you. I also understand that the positive, supportive emotions win out over the negative ones. Good for you for dealing so well with something that causes you unavoidable heartache.

    9. Anonymous

      Annie and scooping it up: sometimes it is okay to read a comment and to not reply at all. Jennifer’s comment was of a very personal and sincere nature about a very sensitive situation. I think it was brave of her to share her feelings and as such didn’t need an argument replied to afterwards. Why would you try to diminish her struggles and feelings simply for the purpose of defending your opinions! It was very callous and rude of you both. And you claim you are against bullying…guess you only care when you are the ones feeling bullied!

  145. Sarah Rizzo

    Breastfeeding in our house is the cultural norm. My boys had no clue what a bottle was the first time they saw someone feed a baby with one, they weren’t rude, they just asked why the baby wasn’t nursing.

  146. kewkew

    I am no breastfeeding, but just saw this post shared on Facebook and had to come over to read it. You answered these questions wonderfully and made some great points. Personally, there are situations where I am way too self conscious and had to cover up. Though it did end up being more conspicuous. Thanks for this post

  147. Anonymous

    As a mother of five, I must say that all were breastfed ( some up to 2 years) and none were ever fed in public. No, I wasn’t a hermit! However, I thought my children deserved to not be dragged anywhere I wanted to go – so their feedings came first, then we would go out until nap or another feeding time came up. If I absolutely had to feed one of them while out, I found some private place for myself and my baby to better enjoy the time. Maybe consider staying home a bit more.

    1. Annie Reneau

      Hmmm. I never considered taking the kids out of the house to say, go to the park, or to a class for one of them, or to a friend’s house, etc. as being “dragged anywhere I wanted to go.” If you didn’t want to feed them in public, that’s your choice, but I don’t see the need to try to coordinate everyone’s schedule around a baby needing to eat, not to mention if you’re feeding on demand (which is the recommendation) there’s no schedule to coordinate around.

    2. Jessi

      Living in a rural area it would have been impossible to NOT feed my baby when we were out and about, short of making the poor little guy go hungry. If i lived 5 minutes from a grocery store or the doctor’s office, maybe. But when its a half hour to an hour drive one way its just not feasible. Lordy, i would have loved to be able to run errands in between nursing! But, i blended my baby’s needs with daily life, and guess what? Complete strangers survived being exposed to a mom feeding her baby. The world didn’t end, my child is used to a variety of environments, and is a happy healthy 2 year old who does not expect HIS schedule to rule my life. :)

    3. Amber (EyesofAmber)

      I never had a child with a predictable enough feeding schedule to attempt anything like that and it absolutely would not have been fair to my older children to be forced to stay home so that I could feed their baby brother on demand.

    4. sarahjstevens

      I had 4 children, with one of them being raised in a rural area. Yes, it was tough, but we did a lot of nursing in the car or in a bathroom with a lounge area. Part of it was my issue, being very modest in nature. Looking back, I am glad I did cover up as I have a better understanding now of how men are just wired differently than women – more prone to be turned on by what they see. And for all those asking me if I have my 15 year old son turn his head to things in public, yes, by all means I do. He has been good to learn that he needs to turn his head. It would be nice though for him or any other man NOT to have to be subjected to always turning their heads. We should respect men and cover up or at least be discreet. When I did nurse in public, I did cover up. Was it difficult? Yes. I had a large milk supply and my baby would pull off because of too much coming at him/her at one time. I always had a pad on also that I had to take off as well. I did it all hidden, most of the time. It is doable. I think instead of just thinking about ourselves and our difficulties, we need to think of men and the struggles that many have with sexual sins. Men in church have the same struggle as those outside of the church. I am all for nursing our babies, but I think discretion is good while we do that.

    5. Anonymous

      “I found some private place for myself and my baby”. Precisely. YOU found… For those who know feeding is a non-issue, you should extend them the same courtesy of doing what is natural for them. Just because you were able/happy to devote 10+ years to the timing of your baby’s next meal does not mean every woman can or even should. It was what worked for you.

    6. Anonymous

      You must not have gotten out much. Yikes! My children don’t like to just sit around in the house while I nurse the baby. We are active, vibrant, healthy people who like to experience the world!

  148. Anonymous

    Love this!! I’m currently nursing my 7 week old and haven’t really been in public other than at friends’ houses and the clinic, but I wouldn’t hesitate to feed him wherever necessary. I tried the cover and immediately gave it up because I couldn’t figure out how to latch him. My family and in-laws are very anti-breastfeeding and feel that it is inappropriate for the kids to see, but I just take it as an educational lesson. I do warn them that I am about to feed though if they want to leave. Also, in response to men getting involved, I am beyond thankful that my husband supports me (and our bf friends before). If we want to change public view we need men on our side to stop the perception that our breasts are made for their pleasure and viewing :-)

  149. Anonymous

    fed two babies, my oldest is almost 34 years old and the youngest 32,breastfed when ever they were hungry no one noticed,never had not one comment,this was in the early 80″s when breastfeeding was not as widely practiced.Firm believer in the benefits of nursing for baby and Mom !!

  150. Janet Rowh

    I breastfed both of my babies, my oldest almost 34 years ago, never had one negative comment,I fed them when ever they were hungry and no one noticed what I was doing!

  151. Shawn Masterson

    I agree with 90% of what was said here, but there is always that 1 person that person that ruins it for all. I have seen it before, just let it all hang out. When done with care there is nothing to see, but someone just lets it fly. also for those who are “gifted” there may be a little more to hide.

  152. Sarah

    This is so fantastically put! Thank you! Each and every person has their own idea of what modesty/discretion/respect looks like, and all I can do is be true to my own convictions. I am responsible for myself, not the reactions of others. I HOPE my children see nursing mothers, often!
    Personally, I’m always thankful to see a man supportive of women bfing babies however they are comfortable!

    1. Annie Reneau

      Yes, modesty is totally subjective. It’s actually funny that I find myself arguing against the idea of modesty, because I’m actually a very modest person myself and teach my children the importance of being modest as well. I just see breastfeeding as something separate from traditional ideas of modesty.

    2. Amanda H

      I am in the same place as you. I actually told my husband that it isn’t my boob being seen, but my belly or lower back!!! I am more concerned about my imperfections being seen than a little nip. My older son screamed and cried the first time I tried to nurse his brother in public while covered!!! He yelled don’t cover Caleb, Mommy! So , I use a cover to make sure my belly 7s covered, not my baby or boob!

  153. spiderwart

    Thank you for posting this.. I get so tired of explaining these things over and over again. The one thing that I would stress even more than you did is that it needs to become culturally normal for women to breastfeed in public, for children and adults to understand that this is normal. It cannot be hidden or considered shameful. It is sad that women feel shamed by their own family members. I have been there. In my case it was not for breastfeeding, but for breastfeeding longer than 6 months. Nothing was ever said overtly but I knew the thoughts behind the things that were said. It is not about encouraging women to expose themselves, it is about making it possible for women to feed their babies without shame. I make a point of making sure my children understand that this is normal so that they will be supportive of their future wives and little sister when they are older. I hope my daughter (6 weeks old) will live in a world where this isn’t even a conversation because it is normal. The other thing I want to say is that as a labor and delivery nurse it seems to me that about 75% of my patients fear that they are not going to be able to nurse their babies. For some reason our culture has not only put out that breastfeeding is shameful, they have decreed that breastfeeding is difficult and only a few are ever going to be successful. When I ask women about why they were unable to breastfeed in the past by and large the reasons they give let me know that their fear of not being successful was in part to blame for their problems. Of course I don’t tell them this, their experience of it is valid and telling them that they could have been successful if they had done xyz is not helpful and just adds to the mommy guilt we all carry with us anyway. I do try to give them information to help them succeed this time, and especially encourage women to find a support group like la leche league and to go to a lactation consultant regularly after the birth of her child even if she thinks things are going well. This way the lactation consultant can give encouragement and also catch any potential problems before they become real problems. With breastfeeding I think too many women try to do it on their own because it is natural and should therefore be easy, and by the time they go to the lactation consultant for help with an issue it is really difficult to correct the problem. Part of the problem of making breastfeeding shameful in our culture is that women feel they can’t talk to others about it and indeed even if they did most of our mothers and grandmothers came from a time when the majority of women used formula so the knowledge and wisdom that is usually there for women to tap into has disappeared. This makes the job of lactation consultants and la leche league leaders all the more important. Normalizing breastfeeding in our culture will help with so many problems. Thanks again for your post.

    1. Annie Reneau

      Such an excellent comment. I think this is so true: “With breastfeeding I think too many women try to do it on their own because it is natural and should therefore be easy, and by the time they go to the lactation consultant for help with an issue it is really difficult to correct the problem.”

    2. Amber (EyesofAmber)

      I was unsuccessful at nursing with my oldest for a laundry list of reasons and yes, waiting too long to get help was among those, I’m sure. I am proud to say though, that I nursed my second, despite having to actually do breast compressions to keep him interested long enough to eat for the first two months of his life. He weaned at 25 months. I nursed number 3 for 16 months and number 4 for 15 months. I always tell women that it’s worth a try even if it didn’t work out the last time.

  154. Anonymous

    I love your blog :-) Thanks for writing this one, I couldn’t agree more. I’m a new mom and have been fortunate enough to be able to nurse my baby and hope to get her to her 1st birthday without ever having to give formula… she’s 8 months old next week so I think we’ll make it!

  155. Anonymous

    If you’re too inept to know how to use a covering so that your baby will breast feed, you shouldn’t have a baby. A light covering will not prevent a baby from breast feeding. All these rights are getting out of control. Men find breast sexual. Like it or not, that’s the way it is. I don’t want my 14 yr old son watching you pull your breast out in public. You respect men, and men will respect you. Fair? chadrushhh@aol

    1. Anonymous

      “If you are too inept to know how to use a covering so that your baby will breast feed, you shouldn’t have a baby.”

      Please, tell me all about how you used a covering to breastfeed your baby. And how you managed to always keep the baby covered, no matter how much they pulled at the covering or how much your other kids pulled at it. I would love to hear how you did this, since you obviously have children.

    2. Anonymous

      Is it really so much to ask that your 14 year old son understand that though breasts are indeed, soft, bouncy and fun to touch, they also are used to feed babies? Men find women sexual. Like it or not, that’s the way it is. That doesn’t mean we cover them up. Oh wait…

    3. Anonymous

      There was a time, I’m ashamed to say, that I would have agreed with you. But now, having spent 22 months breastfeeding my two children, I know that there are times it’s IMPOSSIBLE to stay covered. And I’m certainly not inept.

    4. Anonymous

      That’s probably the dumbest thing I have ever heard. Because I can’t wrestle my baby to stay covered up while nursing, I’m “inept”? BS. I guess feeding my child, meeting their needs, makes me uncapable and CLEARLY, I shouldn’t reproduce. Is it really that hard to say to your kids “she’s feeding her baby.”” No wonder more and more moms are formula feeding their children. Makes me sad that kiddos are missing out on the very best nutrition because of idiots like you opening your mouth. End rant.

    5. Anonymous

      if you’re too inept to explain to your 14 year old son that breasts are for more than just sex, then you probably shouldn’t have had him.

      A light covering won’t stop a baby from breastfeeding, providing the baby is, in fact, a lifeless doll that has no problem with having it’s face covered (something which we are all naturally inclined to avoid – since we like to breathe)

      Men find breasts sexual, yep. Not sure what your point is though. I could name plenty of body parts on men I find sexual, some on display some usually not. What are you worried about? That normalising breastfeeding will result is an erection hysteria?

      I don’t respect a gender, I respect a person, man or woman, when they deserve it.

      Finally, about “all these rights are getting out of control” – I may take this opportunity to apologise to you on behalf of all nursing mothers and their nurslings for wanting rights, and in fact anyone who has ever whipped their tit out in the hope of nourishing an infant. It’s super unfortunate that you feel a certain sense of titty anarchy, and we can only hope that in the future, breasts are confined to the topless model and soft porn shoots where they belong.

      My kindest regards to your 14 year old son, for may he develop more of an open mind than the one you were blessed with.

    6. Lara Jane

      So I’m assuming you cover his eyes when you walk past Victoria’s Secret? Or disallow trips to the beach, or even coed swimming? I assure you, he sees nothing more from my breastfeeding than he does in those situations.

      *My* 14yo son, on the other hand, appreciates that human babies drink human milk from human breasts, and he glances the other way when it’s time for baby sister to eat. He’s gotten an eyeful on numerous occasions over the past two years, sure, because babies are wriggly and squirmy sometimes, and thr breast is “hanging out” while we get situated. But it is decidedly a non-issue. I’m sure he still sees the sexual side of breasts, but I am happy that he is getting this perspective up close, as it were.

      And if he saw your 14yo staring at me/sister while she’s nursing, I’m pretty sure he’d call your kid out on it.

    7. Anonymous

      Im really hoping this is actually the 14 year old son commenting. because thats exactly what it sounds like.

    8. Anonymous

      “Cuz everybody knows new mothers are exhibitionists…”
      Haha, yes, because I completely base all of my parenting decisions on what makes everyone else around me comfortable. That’s the entire reason I had kids in the first place, in fact.
      If you’re 14 year old wants to stare at me breastfeeding then fine. Maybe he’ll remember that baby the next time he oggles another woman’s breasts and perhaps the message will come across that they’re not just fun bags for men’s entertainment.

    9. Anonymous

      If you are that bad of a parent that you cannot teach your 14 year old son that women are not simply sexual objects to be stared at and breasts are more than something for his viewing and touching pleasure, then YOU and YOUR KIND are the problem in this country, not women trying to feed their children. Feeding a baby is the most natural and normal thing in the world. If you haven’t taught YOUR child not to sexualize it, then YOU need to fix YOUR hangups, and his, before he turns into the kind of man that no woman will appreciate.

    10. Anonymous

      Maybe you should put a cover over your 14 year old son’s head, since clearly he’s the one with the issue.

    11. DaFish

      I want to rip my hair out listening to the light covering or don’t have kids at all person. Why don’t you take a field trip to an art museum… or a bar… or sometimes even church. In these situations more things hang out than a glimpse of a breast. Heck… even hospital gowns show more. Good gravy….. get a grip.

    12. Anonymous

      I find it weird that it is mostly women who are scolding other women about breastfeeding, my husband said he could care less about someone nursing, and never even really thought about it until I started nursing, woman should be encouraging other women, not putting them down

    13. alex

      Wow! How about you teach your son some respect and decency. Yeah, I know, teenagers and their hormones. But really, we need to make the males responsible for their actions, not shame the females. Had he grown up with breastfeeding being normalised he probably would have been more desensitised to the “other” function of our fun bags.
      Oh, by the way, he’s probably not getting that much of a kick out of it anyway. I mean after all the hard-core porn he’s been watching on the net…
      Seriously people, get a grip. Nobody is fornicating on your front lawn. Mothers just want to feed their children without having to fuss. Yes, a little bit of flesh might be showing. Nothing you wouldn’t see on the red carpet or in a music video.

    14. Anonymous

      Let’s turn the tables and say that just as I have the right to feed my baby wherever I happen to be when baby needs feeding, because I’m his mom and that’s what I do, you have the same right and responsibility to educate your son in his own appropriate behavior. It is not everyone else’s job to hide just because you don’t want to have a real conversation with your kid about the function of boobs. Perhaps he is getting his education elsewhere, like playboy or the internet…

    15. Anonymous

      I don’t mean to go too far with this, but the idea that women need to do things in order to be respectful of men (and because men apparently can’t control themselves), is a dangerous, slippery slope. So if a woman wears shorts and a tank top, and then gets raped, it’s her fault for her outfit right? Not the guy that raped her? You aren’t giving either gender enough credit.

    16. Anonymous

      Really if you cannot teach your son to respect women and that breasts are made for feeding babies by the time he is 14 perhaps you should not have kids….

    17. Anonymous

      You really are stupid. If you are too inept to look the other way then maybe you need to get a LIFE. I nursed both of my children for over a year. I was arrested, fined and imprisoned for nursing in public. My child was taken from me. And I fought CPS tooth and nail with the help of my local Le Leche League to have all this turned around. Have you ever been to a farm? Have you ever watched Nat Geo? Have your kids ever seen any other mammals nursing? Chances are they have…so the only one making a big deal of it is you. I nursed my son while working at an Office where I was the only female. Not one person ever stared or made a big deal of it. Most ignored it and continued to work…

    18. Pumper

      Yes, it would be absolutely awful if your 14yr old son equated breasts with feeding a baby. That is so much worse than thinking breasts are play things. How ridiculous. I would rather my hormone riddled teenage son think of breast as something with a noble purpose to respect rather than something on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Showing the true purpose of breast is exactly how to change the meaning behind them. Hiding them away under a blanket, pretending they don’t make milk, is how the idea your son has that “boobs=sex” is perpetuated. Psychology 101.

    19. Marci Stickel

      That was, without a doubt, the most ignorant thing I have ever read. My son would refuse to eat if I covered up, then he would SCREAM if I didn’t feed him. Can you honestly tell me you would rather listen to a screaming baby than see the back of his head while he is calm and eating?
      Do you force on your son that breasts are basically sex toys? It’s definitely not a hard conversation to have… here let me help with your end,
      “Son, breasts are for feeding babies. That mom is feeding her baby.” So easy, right?

    20. Anonymous

      If you are worried that your 14 year old son will see a breast and get worked up, you should do some research about what is frequently on 14 year old boys’ mind. Seeing a woman’s breast is not going to change what you are afraid of. Seeing a woman’s breast while she is feeding will not make him think about breasts more. Talking to him about a nonsexual function of breasts might. Stop making it sexually deviant…that is so sick.

    21. Anonymous

      Why is your 14-year old son watching in the first place? (According to you – not glancing, not inadvertantly seeing for a moment, but watching). Perhaps he is dehydrated/malnourished…??? Either that or you’re raising a man who thinks it’s ok to objectify women, that it’s everyone’s job but his to keep his libido in check.

    22. Anonymous

      OMG! The point about the fact that Men find breast sexual is not ALWAYS a good thing. “I find parts of a man sexual” Yeah but do you know how many woman have raped a man because she couldn’t control her sexual urges…..hmmmm why dont you look that one up. Its sad but true that there are tons and tons of sick men out there that will see a woman’s breasts whether through feeding or dressing provocatively that will PROVOKE them. Have fun trying to change all the crazy perverted men out there. Let me know when you accomplish that and I will walk around with no shirt or bra on and go running in a remote park late at night in an awful part of town!

  156. Anonymous

    I LOVE this! lots of things I feel as a first time babyfeeding mum – I don’t have a problem but find myself hiding if I think or know someone around me doesn’t agree or like it.
    Thank you for putting it in words!

  157. Anonymous

    With respect, a little sensitivity to your surroundings isn’t too much to ask of any person. If you’re sitting in the middle of a restaurant where many people are eating, I don’t think it’s too much to ask that you either use a light scarf or excuse yourself. I think women should be allowed to publicly breastfeed anywhere, and I agree that a public restroom is not an appealing location. That aside, a little modesty and respect for others is admirable. We don’t live in the dark ages. There are many products available to make discreet feeding easy and comfortable. (shrug)

    1. scooping it up

      I should not have to use a “product” to feed my baby to make you happy. All my kids ages 4-14 know what breastfeeding is. I breastfed in Ethiopia with a whole bunch of boys and men around and guess what: NONE OF THEM STARED. They respected my body and my baby enough to know I was feeding a baby. We need to catch back up to developing nations who respect women and babies enough to not think there is anything remotely wrong or weird to feed them with a breast, in public, at a table, in a restaurant. ANYWHERE.

    2. Anonymous

      So, I am in this tiny minority of women who totally supports public breastfeeding but I literally will not go to a dining establishment with a parent and his or her baby if the baby will be eating (either bottle or breast) because there is literally nothing grosser than trying to eat while the baby is spitting up milk. However, since I am the person with that issue, I just avoid the situation altogether. I think people should take responsibility for avoiding situations that make them uncomfortable. In my case, I hate watching babies eat. Therefore I avoid eating babies. It’s no one’s responsibility but my own.

    3. Anonymous

      There are 3 anonymouses on this comment thread. I’m #3(the silly one – :) ), but in all seriousness, I’m in total agreement with you, Annie Reneau. I’ve spent 22 months nursing my two, and although I actually always try to stay covered, there’ve been a few times when it’s been totally impossible. Babies are precious, and when a boob is obviously the most nutritious choice and the best for bonding, we, as a society, need to be a LOT more encouraging to that end. It really is as easy as looking away if it bothers you. Now walking by a larger than life size picture of a woman wearing barely anything in a totally seductive pose plastered to a Victoria’s Secret window display in the mall, that offends me. But there’s nothing more natural than trying to simultaneously nourish and love a baby.

    4. Anonymous

      I have a 2 month old and a 16 month old. I did not bf my oldest due to medical issues and was told it was best to not to however I learned with my son it was better for them to be ebf. Up until 6 weeks they tell you not to introduce a bottle period due to confusion. && ITS SUMMER & HOT HOT HOT in Texas! So the blanket over them does not work. They get aggravated or fall asleep because they are to warm. I always where a tank top, nursing bra and size larger t shirt so that I can cover up while in public. He doesn’t eat on a schedule or the normal 15 min on each side so there is no way of knowing when he will eat or how long. It can be very stressful for a new nursing mother and we are just doing what is best for our baby.

    5. offended@hypocrisy

      So what everyone is saying here is that you shouldn’t have to make any effort to adjust to those around you but they have to adjust to you openly breastfeeding without a care for anyone else’s beliefs or feelings on the matter. But you have the nerve to say you’re offended by a Victoria Secret ad. What is wrong with you? Do you not even realize how hypocritical and entitled you sound? This is what’s wrong with people today not not being able to breastfeed in public.

    6. Anonymous

      Everyone has the option to look or look away. I believe that I am discreet while nursing my babes (baby #4 here, I’ve been a nursing mum for 8 years), and I will not leave my food and my family to go feed the baby just to come back and make everyone else wait for me to finish my (now cold) food. I’m not trying to be rude, but just pointing out that in a busy restaurant, other patrons should be focusing on their food and tablemates, not me and mine. And feeding my baby certainly makes it less likely that she will disrupt your meal. :) If I cover my babes, and this has been true for all four, with a blanket or cotton cloth, they kick it and grunt until it is off. That is MUCH more attention-getting than not using it. I loved this article. Thank you! And I am so grateful for my supportive husband. He sometimes has to retrain himself from seeming creepy and cheering on nursing mums in public. No worries. He does bite his tongue. :) Sorry to be anonymous. There weren’t many good options for ID’s.

    7. JeffMo

      “With respect, a little sensitivity to your surroundings isn’t too much to ask of any person.”

      You started off well, but for some reason, you decided that mothers feeding their babies are the ones that need more sensitivity. I’d say it’s the busybodies who think this entire issue is about their right to be offended by breastfeeding, or to control how mothers go about it.

      I have a suggestion. Realize that it’s not about you and your overactive and fragile sensibilities. It’s about feeding a child, and all you have to do is understand that and exhibit more sensitivity yourself. Look away if you are overly bothered by something that is quite natural and not at all indecent.

    8. Anonymous

      “If you’re sitting in the middle of a restaurant where many people are eating, I don’t think it’s too much to ask that you either use a light scarf or excuse yourself.”
      Really? Many people are eating yes, but when a woman feeds her baby, what is the baby doing? Oh yes: EATING. I agree with this wonderful essay: you don’t have to watch if a breastfreding mother makes you uncomfortable.

  158. Ivy B

    I am pro-breastfeeding (or pro baby feeding in your words) I nursed my baby for 7 months and I covered up with a light nursing cover. My reason? I didn’t feel it was my place to show that off to children whose mothers may not be ready to explain the situation. Some of my family were anti-breastfeeding and I made them uncomfortable, so I felt the cover gave them a good way to just tell their children I was trying to let baby nap. In general, I knew it made many people uncomfortable, really.
    Now my baby is two and I’m not ready to think about explaining these things to her yet either.
    Just today I saw a woman holding her breast while feeding her baby and recently saw a woman just straight whip out her boob before baby was even ready. Or the ladies that lift their shirts exposing stomach to chest. It’s those that seem to try drawing attention to it that make it not so much a beautiful thing.

    1. Heather

      With respect, if more mothers explained what was happening, then maybe this whole discussion wouldn’t need to happen. The fact that it’s referred to as”the situation” is where the problem is. It’s not a “situation”, it’s a natural way to feed your child. Children should not be protected from seeing a woman feeding her child in public.

    2. Anonymous

      Ivy, my sentiments exactly. It is not necessary to expose your entire torso to feed your baby. And using a light cloth to cradle your baby thus covering your breast AFTER the baby has latched on is not a big deal. No matter what you do BREASTS ARE SEXUAL OBJECTS in this country. Acting like they are not is ridiculous. So ladies please try not to just flop your breast out, for everyone to see, when it is just not necessary to feed your baby properly. There’s no way I can keep my teenage son from staring. And he was breast fed.

    3. Kat

      not to mention, most children say “Oh.” and move on. the only thing it makes it difficult to explain is why we are drinking cow’s milk.

    4. Anonymous

      Ivy, you ever thought that maybe they’re not doing this for attention or to show off, maybe they’re tired and simply don’t care what you or anyone else thinks. They are just trying to feed their baby.

    5. Anonymous

      My daughter hates being covered up. Even in the hospital. Most people don’t notice or don’t care. Maybe we are more lax in Massachusetts. Honestly the only negative comment I even had was from my Mother in law. But she hates everything I do lol.

    6. Anonymous

      I agree with you Ivy B. Private space for baby feeding should be demanded to be made available everywhere instead. With the increasing number of women interested in breastfeeding rather than bottle feeding. This demand can be possible.

    7. Rai

      I don’t understand “Not being ready to explain the situation.”. She’s feeding a baby. The end. It isn’t sexual. It doesn’t fall in the category of “the birds and the bees”. Chances are, your child won’t even notice if you don’t draw attention to it, and if they do, say this:
      “Mommy, what is that lady doing?”
      “Feeding her baby.”
      “Oh.”

      Easy Peasy

    8. Anonymous

      What does it matter HOW a mother goes about preparing to feed? So what if she lifts her shirt, or ‘whips it right out’… she’s still doing it for the purpose of feeding her child, not amusing herself. I SUCK at breastfeeding. I have saggy arse boobs from weight loss that are awkward to get a latch on, and don’t fit into traditional nursing bras. But I’m damn proud that my 5 month old is EBF and thriving. I literally pull down my tank top and sports bra and ‘whip it out’, and have to prop my boob with my hand in order for my LO to feed, wherever we may be when she is hungry. I’ll be damned if I would let someone shame me out of feeding my kid the only way I know how.

    9. Anonymous

      Wait, let me get this straight. You’re really saying that women who are feeding their babies ought to cover up and hide what their doing *in order to facilitate easier LYING for other parents*? For real? How about instead of doing that, we just feed our babies. And then we’ll give those same parents who haven’t gotten around to explaining the basics of human anatomy and infant care to their children an easy conversation starter.

    10. positivelypanicked

      I believe that lying to children about what a mother may be doing with her child under a cover is setting them up to be judgmental of and uncomfortable around breastfeeding Mothers as adults. When we (parents) make big deals out of something than it becomes a big deal to our children. If we simply explain what is happening (that mother is feeding her baby) and move on, then so will our kids. They will also grow up learning what breasts are for and not be shocked when they see babies eating. Why continue to raise another generation to be uneducated and misinformed? I’d much rather change the way our country looks at breastfeeding and I think that starts with how we raise/teach our children.

    11. Jessi

      When I had my son, I nursed him in front of my 4yo nephew. He’d never seen a baby nursing before so he was naturally curious. I told him my body makes milk for the baby, and the baby drinks it from my boobies so i don’t have to buy and wash bottles. After a while he ignored it, because it became normal. When my nephew’s baby brother was born 6 months later, he was nursed and big brother didn’t bat an eye. My son is now 2yo, has been weaned for 5 months, and when he sees his 18mo cousin nursing he proudly tells me “Baby eat num nums.” He even commented on a nursing baby at IHOP a couple weeks ago, saying that the baby was hungry and eating. It is as natural to them as seeing a baby cuddled, because they’ve exposed and had it explained. Yes in some settings I’ve been discreet out of respect for some older people at my church but more often than not I’ve been “scolded” for covering the poor baby up so he couldn’t see! It really irks me when moms are made to feel like they have to hide their nursing baby, yet the same mom can where a plunging neckline with a pushup bra that displays 60%+ of both breasts, which can incite lustful leering from mn with no tact. We might was well be forced to wear burqas until our babies are weaned!

    12. Amber (EyesofAmber)

      I have failed at nursing one child and successfully nursed his three younger brothers. I have never, ever been able to nurse one of them without holding my breast. That makes it seriously difficult to cover up. The fact that I have to hold my breast in order to keep my baby latched on somehow is offensive? I’d love to have been one of those moms who doesn’t have to do that because frankly it would be nice to have that hand free, but that just isn’t how my body is made. I was also never able to successfully use a cover, it was too stressful for both myself and the baby and just made me feel like I had a huge “nursing baby” sign on. Despite that fact I have even had people come up to me and stroke the baby’s head while they were nursing without even realizing what was going on. I agree with Rai, there is nothing to explain. It’s simple, that baby is eating. And no, none of mine would take a bottle either.
      And to the anonymous poster who said breasts are sexual objects in this country, that is a cultural issue that we absolutely can address for the health of future generations. I have no interest in just letting things in this world remain the same simply because that’s how they are right now.

    13. Anonymous

      I’m sorry, so does that mean you, not your child should get to decide when he learns that babies eat? I have 3 kids and all I ever said was, “baby is drinking milk”. That’s all a 2 year old needs to know, then they are off playing again. I’m genuinely curious, do you plan to wait until you are ready to have the sex talk too? Or to explain death? There are so many topics parents need to discuss with our children before we are ready. He could care less, he’s two. It’s you who cares. Would it really hurt for your teenage son to have some recollection that breaststroke are for babies? My e’s parents had the same approach as you . . . He was jealous that the baby needing to eat got in the way of his fun. Raise a man who understands reality, not one who sees beasts sexual iced everywhere but never used for their real intention. He’s two. Baby’s eat. That’s it. How uncomfortable could that really be?

    14. Anonymous

      I just have to add, as a mother who didn’t/couldn’t nurse my children and they therefore aren’t as familiar with nursing, the questions don’t end with what’s that baby doing and you respond eating and explain the milk production. They (at least mine) ask more questions and wonder why girls breasts are covered and boys aren’t. After all, if they are for feeding, why do we cover them at all. I know it’s a cultural thing and I am not against nursing in public but it is uncomfortable and a lot of questions do arise and I’m not against answering them truthfully but they don’t understand everything – we tell them to cover breasts but then sometimes we don’t? I just want some modesty in public – both with nursing and in advertising but I have a much bigger issue with advertising and media. I just wanted there to be some acknowledgement that it’s maybe not quite as easy peasy as you think when children haven’t been exposed to nursing and it isn’t because you are against it. But I also am one who with my first 2 didn’t bottle feed in public much because of the spit-up and I think that can be gross to others. Now with my 3rd I don’t have time to schedule everything around her feedings.

    15. Elsa

      I totally understand the questions. As a child not raised around breasts or breastfeeding I thought there was something weird about it, not necessarily sexual. Anyone who sees breasts as sexual is condescending to the attitudes of todays society. You either have a mi d of your own or you fall to anything out there that is being said. Anyways I felt there was something wrong with this taboo since the time my brothers walked around with no shirts and I said I would do likewise. There is no reason for the sexuality argument when that person is not acting sexually. I wanted the same freedoms my brothers had, not to be treated as a sexual object. Now that I have my beautiful babies and have breastfed each one I realize that there is nothing sexual about it and nothing weird or gross. Ive only had a couple times where someone moved away from me for breastfeeding and insanely these were the times I was nursing with a cover over.l!! Honestly I think that women have more of an issue with it than men. Women get all worried about how it will be viewed and men tend to either pretend its not happening or move away. Most women ive met have been very supportive also though and even want to touch the baby and talk while they are eating. I allow my daughter to go without a top. It is a known fact that when hide some thing it inevitably becomes more desirable, hence what has happened with breasts and honestly the entire human body. There is this fear as though we might be exposing our children to our body part. If you have this issue try going to any place with cows or dogs or any other animal and have your children ask their quetions. Honestly you should be thankful that your children ask you those questions. They trust you. Be thankful. When the questions stop coming than you can worry, cause it means they are getting their answers from somewhere else, not that they have no more questions.

    16. sarahjstevens

      I think it is common courtesy to cover up. What about men who have lusting issues? What about teen boys whose sexual hormones are raging. Do you think showing your breasts, nipples and the like, are keeping them from sinning? There is a verse in the Bible about this but for the life of me, I cannot remember it at this time. If the male species struggles with sexual sin, then why would we try and guess if a certain man may get excited by what he sees. I agree that women see it as feeding her baby but not so sure all men do. To me the Christian way is to keep it modest so we do not cause our males to sin. IMHO

    17. Sticky

      That’s awesome your baby didn’t rip the cover off every time you breast fed. My daughter HATED the cover and would un-latch every time the apron went on. Not to mention she was a Spring baby and breastfeeding in the summer months meant it was a 1000 degrees under there. Hooray for you being able to cover up. Way to judge other moms who aren’t as lucky as you. Bravo. Will you please teach the class on breast feeding modesty? I’ll be the first in line to sign up. I really want you to show me how you did it. You must be a superior being. I bet God was thinking of all the scared children when he created you.

    18. Heather Kramer

      You guys all cracked me up. Seriously, if you can’t stand to see some stomach before a boob, we should start banning bikinis. It’s the same darn thing, but at least a breastfeeding mom has more clothes on than a bra and underwear. Get over it. Babies have to eat, and if your not okay with it, sorry. I shouldn’t need to alter my families principles for you. That being said, yes sometimes breastfeeding mom’s should be a little discreet and use modesty, but very few dont. Most of the ones I’ve met are very modest women just feeding their babies with little fanfare.

    19. Anonymous

      I nursed at my son’s baseball game the other day and two young children (who have been obsessed with my baby since the first practice) were utterly disgusted by me breastfeeding. I was trying to use a blanket to cover but it was hot and my son, who is 8 months old, was having NONE of that. I finally just told the kids that my baby was eating and they needed to go away for awhile. They ran around shouting “EWW!” and “That baby is sucking on her!” Because of those kids, my 8 year old daughter become embarrassed by my actions. There’s something completely wrong about that situation–because their mother didn’t want to supervise them, or explain things to them, or simply distract them, my kid felt embarrassed that her baby brother has to eat. Well, all I can hope is that one day, when she’s a mom, she will remember that I continued on because her younger brother needed to eat, she needed to be supervised, and her older brother deserved someone to watch his game.

    20. offended@hypocrisy

      To Jessi,
      Who do you think you are? How dare you bring up a burqa as if it’s shameful? Do you have any idea about their culture or what they are used for? Just so you don’t make an ass out of yourself again the burqa is the traditional headdress of the Islamic faith you were meaning the abaya that is the traditional robe that covers their body. You obviously have no experience with the Islamic faith or people and should therefore refrain from speaking of them their faith and things you have no clue about.

      On the breastfeeding issue I’m 100% with Ivy on this one some people don’t believe in breastfeeding and it isn’t your place, right or obligation to shove that in their and their families collective faces. Yes I have breastfed and yes I understand the difficulty of it I have very large breasts so it wasn’t easy but thanks to the great covers they have available these days I was able to cover, keep eye contact with my baby, hold my boob in the right position and hold the baby without issue. It’s not a demeaning thing it’s respect we all should develop some.

    21. offended@hypocrisy

      @jessi,
      Who do you think you are? How dare you bring the burqa up as a shameful derogatory thing? You who is campaigning for open breastfeeding without shame, you turn around and try to use the burqa as a shaming the same as a cover. You have no idea what it is you are talking about clearly since the burqa is the headdress you see Islamic women wear and you are thinking of an abaya which is the robe but as you have no idea what you are speaking about it would be best that you refrain from speaking in any way of another culture that you don’t truly understand. Your hypocrisy is unbelievable.

      About the breastfeeding I am behind breastfeeding 100% however I agree with Ivy there isn’t anything wrong with using a cover in public some people don’t believe in breastfeeding and it is in no way your obligation or your right to shove it in their faces. It’s not a shameful thing it’s a respect thing just as you would not curse in church or rummage through a strangers personal belongings when in a public place you should have respect for others and cover yourself the same way you wear a shirt or pants. If you’re in your car or a mothers lounge or your own house or property go right ahead and do what you want but respect others and their beliefs the way you want to be respected. I have breastfed in the past I have 2 children and rather large breasts and I managed to stay covered and keep eye contact (thanks to new covers they have with the wire and neck tie) all while holding my baby and boob in the right position… like I said it all comes down to respect… let’s get some in order to receive you must first give.

    22. Anonymous

      Anonymous- NO one said breasts weren’t sexual objects in this country. The point people are trying to get out is that they SHOULDN’T be sexual objects.

    23. Anonymous

      THANK YOU. I feel like you ‘get it’. I have three small boys, and I’m small-breasted, and they stare at large-breasted women who AREN’T exposing their breasts, let alone for anyone who lets it all hang out! For a woman to breastfeed in public would be something. There would be no possible way to get my boys to just ‘look away’. There would be no, ‘She’s feeding her baby,’ and them just going, ‘Oh.’ Yeah, they’d be SUPER curious. They’re boys. I mean, I get that you’re feeding your baby, but we women keep our breasts covered MOST of the time, so why is it suddenly okay to flop them out in public? Few people care whether or not you choose to breastfeed your baby, but out of respect for the people around you, keep it covered. (And I’m sorry, but I find it especially gross when people breastfeed in a restaurant.) I am actually impressed by women who breastfeed. I chose not to, for many reasons (and after talking to my doctor), but admire the dedication of women who do, because it requires MUCH more effort than a bottle with formula. I applaud you, but again, please respect the wishes of those around you and try to be discreet about it. Not because it is shameful, it is just simply being modest. It’s like when my family and I are at a restaurant. We bless our food. We do it quietly, because we know some people might not like it, or don’t agree with it, so out of respect for the other people present, we do it quietly and discreetly.

      And for those of you who say that the sole purpose of breasts is for feeding your children, um, no. Mine are toys for my husband, and that is all. Which is why I keep mine covered. Just sayin’.

    24. Anonymous

      So… do you “explain the situation” every time you pass by an enormous picture of an almost naked woman, which only purpose is to get attention and advertise a wonder bra? Do you ever go to the beach or a pool? Because trust me, your see waaaaaaaaaay more skin in those places than they would ever see from a nursing mom… The problem is that YOU THINK that there is something to explain, and by being uncomfortable your kids learn the behavior. You probably need to think: who did you learn that behavior from? and accept that it is time to change it.

    25. Anonymous

      I nursed an adopted baby for about 3 months, and then a biological surprise. I nursed the latter for 3 years. Both babies are in their 30s now. I felt more comfortable covered up. Bio babe did not mind, but adoptee HATED covering. It is ridiculous to expect a mother to cover up when she is feeding her baby the way Mother Nature or God (your choice) intended.

    26. Anonymous

      Seriously? There are still moms around who are uncomfortable telling their young children that babies drink from their mom’s breasts? That just blows me away. I can’t ever remember my two sons not knowing that. I breastfed them both for a year + wherever and whenever the need arose and haven’t used a cover once. It’s the most natural thing in the world.

    27. Richelle A.

      I agree with Ivy…I nursed five babies anywhere and everywhere…after all, that is one of the biggest benefits of nursing, to have milk readily available. But I was discreet and used a very light cover blanket that I draped loosely over my shoulder, open where I looked down…air could still circulate under it, I could still make eye contact with my baby, and seriously, once a baby learns to latch, they can do it in the dark, on their own..they will keep trying to get that nipple in their mouth right where they want it. I am all for nursing and have seen many mothers nurse in public, none of which made a scene ‘whipping out their breast”. Everything can be done with some taste and with some respect for others. I don’t believe that women should have to go to the bathroom to nurse, that is just disgusting. There are some women here who just want to be extremist and seem to express the need to show off their breast just for a power kick and that is really not necessary..so many women nurse and do it without making a scene of lifting their shirt up and exposing their whole chest and abd… that really isn’t necessary to nurse. Out of common decency to others who might not be comfortable with overtly exposed chests..you can do it with some discretion.

    28. Anonymous

      I am also not great at nursing…. 8 weeks in and still working on it. If I don’t “whip it out before baby is ready” I end up fumbling with her in my arms, trying to do it with one hand with her in the other and basically getting in a right state.. The end result…. a very stressed baby!
      I am another person who has to hold my boob while nursing, impossible to do anything other than keep baby latched on at times. Even if I wanted to cover my baby (which I never would) I couldn’t. Does this mean my baby does not deserver to be breastfed in public just as yours does?
      I really cannot understand why anyone would have a problem with telling a child that another child is being fed by their mother.
      “And to the anonymous poster who said breasts are sexual objects in this country, that is a cultural issue that we absolutely can address for the health of future generations. I have no interest in just letting things in this world remain the same simply because that’s how they are right now.” Well said Amber. ‘All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing’

    29. Anonymous

      What is it that you are not ready to explain to your daughter? The way mammals feed their babies? What is so wrong or embarrassing about that? It seems to me that children are not the problem in this particular scenario… is the adults who bring all the stigma into something that quite frankly is the way biology functions.

  159. Anonymous

    AMEN! Thanks for writing this. I wish I was more brave and didn’t feel so pressured to cover up with my stupid nursing cover – it can be such a pain and causes me anxiety. Hopefully one day nursing in public will be more normal – I’ve heard of lots of people giving up on nursing because they feel like they can’t go anywhere for more than an hour – and that’s sad.

  160. Anonymous

    What angers me and drives me bananas, is the fact that these breastfeeding promoters are males have the nerve to scold women because they do not want their breasts visible.
    I keep telling you females of the world that this movement consists of female and males who just want to see breasts everywhere. WTF?
    These people should spend some time trying to help the sick, homeless, and needy people, while they are worrying about us females showing breasts. This is not even worth the effort they are putting into it !!
    Get men to show their some penises and testicles. (Pam in the Valley) 8/2013

    1. Anonymous

      Unless where you come from breastfeeding consists of showing off your vagina, why would you compare this to testicles? Breast are made for feeding not for sexual amusements.

    2. Anonymous

      It’s not about showing breasts, it’s just about being able to use them to feed a baby in public. No breast “shown” to anyone except the baby. Someone may see her breast, but not because she was showing it to them. Even when a woman is breastfeeding, people shouldn’t be able to, as you say, “see breasts everywhere”. The male genitals have completely different functions, so your point is lost. Women who don’t want to feed in public don’t have to, and should not be scolded, but a woman who doesn’t want to hide to feed shouldn’t have to or be scolded either.

    3. Anonymous

      Honestly Anonymous, I watch the show South Park and what you are saying sounds exactly like something Mr./Mrs. Garrison would say. Completely ludicrous and off the wall, nothing to do with any logical sense or fact, almost coming off as an almost humorous prank a couple 13 yearold boys wrote. At least the person who wrote this side of the debate had legitimate reasons as to why they feel the way they do, you on the other hand have spouted nonsense. On another note, I am not going to take my dinner on the toilet and eat it; I don’t expect an infant too either, a mother should feel comfortable to breastfeed where she wants and needs to

    4. Anonymous

      Every time I read your comments about penis,’ I get a little stupider. I really wish you would stop giving your opinion on a topic, unless you could at least do so in a somewhat intelligent way. The way you are expressing yourself now is just plain ignorant. Thanks.

    5. Anonymous

      When the penis feeds babies nutritious milk, whip it out with pride. Until then, keep it in your pants. Same with the vagina. Let’s look at the bigger picture – when a baby is screaming from hunger, you feed it no matter where you are. It’s about what’s best for the baby, a living helpless being depending on us for survival. Our bodies were made to feed our babies so do what we were made to do when our baby is asking for it. If you aren’t comfortable seeing a mom feed her baby, you being upset is not her problem. She’s being an adult doing what she needs to do, now you take responsibility for yourself and remove yourself from the situation. People so easily blame others – we are responsible for ourselves! Let people act in their freedom, and you do the same by not looking as others have mentioned, or leaving the situation. This is true in all situations, not just breastfeeding. We have control over our eyes and legs – use them.

    6. Anonymous

      I breastfed 4 babies into childhood…one till 4 1/2 yrs old. It is nearly impossible to nurse a baby covered up after they are about 4 month old…they hate having their face covered and they want to look up at their Mom. This anonymous person who thinks this is an agenda for men and women to see breasts in public well, frankly, this person is a complete lunatic and everything he/she says should be taken that way. Men are supporting women’s right to feed their child…they are not needing to see a breast—they want the women to feel at ease breastfeeding. The breast is there to give milk to our babies…Men can see breasts that women show for them that are sexual whenever they want. The man here, David is not seeing the breast as a sexual object and many men feel the same. Sick people have taken something precious we give to our children and are trying to pervert it. Another anonymous lol…I don’t know how else to reply to this. My real name is Sandie

    7. Gail McFarlane

      Oh Anonymous, (the dick-loving Anonymous) please turn off your computer, quit your internet provider and go live somewhere where we don’t have to endure your drivel. Please.

  161. Anonymous

    This is wonderful. I only nursed my first two for a couple months each, partially because of the culturally ingrained shame I felt while nursing in public. The covers are so inconvenient and I always felt like I was smothering my baby when their sweaty heads/red faces emerged from underneath. Yet I didn’t have the guts uncover and nurse freely. This time I do. This time I won’t let the disapproving stares of the ignorant get to me. When #3 arrives, I will be feeding my baby whenever and wherever baby wants. And if someone sees the back of my baby’s head and gasps in horror, that’s their problem, not ours.

    1. Anonymous

      People eat in public all of the time. It is probably one of the most common, socially accepted activity performed by people in groups or in public. Why can’t people make the connection that a nursing baby is just eating.

    2. Anonymous

      I am totally fine with nursing a baby in public. I do however have a big problem with the woman who said there was no way she could keep her teenage son from staring at a breastfeeding mother. How about telling him to stop being a little creep and to mind his own business. He should know not to stare at people period, whether there is a breast involved or not!

    3. Andrea Cross

      The reason people make the comparison is because of the simplistic and inadequate argument that breastfeeding is “natural.” Of course, breastfeeding is natural. It’s, however, quite logical for someone to bring in other examples of “natural” body functions when this is the only qualification given for why someone should be able to do something in public. As the examples of sex and using the bathroom demonstrate, the argument that it is “natural” is not sufficient for people to accept that it be done in public. The problem is not that people compare different “natural” body functions, but that the question of whether or not something is natural is insufficient for the purposes at hand. Instead of saying that public breastfeeding should be accepted on the basis that it is natural, it would be more beneficial to use an argument that is more fully developed and doesn’t rely on one single aspect of the activity (which is bound to have similarities to lots of other activities). The whole point of having a discussion is for arguments to be made and analyzed. If you find that people often object to the “natural” argument (by pointing out “natural” things that should be done in private), maybe it’s because that particular argument is, by itself, insufficient. My point is not to state my opinion about whether or not breastfeeding should be done in public, but to show that sometimes the unfavorable responses people get to their arguments are because the argument itself is poor.

  162. Anonymous

    Fantastic, Ms. Annie. It’s always seemed odd to me that seeing a man’s nipples is completely okay, but a woman’s is not. Every pediatrician in the land should have a copy of this to share with their nursing moms.

  163. Anonymous

    Go Annie!!! After nursing my three babies (including the adopted one!) and occasionally under extenuating circumstances other peoples’ babies I totally appreciate this. Incidentally all women bear their breasts all day every day unless they have had a mastectomy. I think the issue arises when BARING a breast. (Sorry, the latent English teacher in me rears its ugly head.)

    1. Motherhood and More

      Oh, my gosh, I had already gone back and fixed one “bear” to “bare.” Thanks for the heads up – I found two more! Sheesh. The latent English teacher in me is hanging her head in shame. :)

      I also nursed a couple of other babies under extenuating circumstances, and also pumped for my adopted nephew while I was nursing my second. These breasts are veterans, man.

      Thanks, Anonymous (I’m trying to guess if you’re someone I know based on your comment. I think I know, but I’m not sure.)

    2. Anonymous

      Yes, I am someone you know. :-) I just don’t actually spend that much time online so I don’t have a registration/username/profile/or whatever it is that is so nifty that lets you recognize me. :-) LC

    3. Anonymous

      Go you wonderful ladies! I pumped and donated to my friend’s adopted boy: one of my proudest accomplishments. Becoming comfortable with the real power that my body has by bearing and feeding babies is what finally ended the body shame I felt all my life, like most American women.

    4. Boss Darcie

      LoL “bear breasts” I have unfortunately well endowed breasts and I only say unfortunate because they’re heeeeavy! I am not a mom and I am a modest, shy thing that doesn’t even like showing a little bit of cleavage because of the undue attention the “ladies” already receive, however if I WERE a mom, I would breast feed in public because, like you said, it’s natural. Studies have proven that children who are breast fed are healthier because they receive all the natural nutrients from their momma. My aunt used to breast feed in front of everyone, and being a shy gal, I would look away while she was allowing her infant to latch on, but then it was back to eye contact and conversation as usual. Really, all I saw was the back of Baby’s head. Wonderfully written article and I’m glad you addressed the questions above. /highfive

    5. Boss Darcie

      LoL “bear breasts” I have unfortunately well endowed breasts and I only say unfortunate because they’re heeeeavy! I am not a mom and I am a modest, shy thing that doesn’t even like showing a little bit of cleavage because of the undue attention the “ladies” already receive, however if I WERE a mom, I would breast feed in public because, like you said, it’s natural. Studies have proven that children who are breast fed are healthier because they receive all the natural nutrients from their momma. My aunt used to breast feed in front of everyone, and being a shy gal, I would look away while she was allowing her infant to latch on, but then it was back to eye contact and conversation as usual. Really, all I saw was the back of Baby’s head. Wonderfully written article and I’m glad you addressed the questions above. /highfive

    1. Anonymous

      There are breastfeeding cover-ups that have a formed opening at the top and are awesome. The baby will not get “claustrophobic” and mom and baby can see each other. Also Mom can more easily watch and help the baby to latch on. I’m a grandma that breastfed 7 babies myself and I know about these modest cover-ups. I’m surprised you don’t. Maybe you do know about them and just don’t care about the people around you possibly being uncomfortable, such as teens, husbands of other women who choose not to look at a stranger’s breasts, or even waiters at restaurants who might be distracted and get your order wrong! I think you don’t care and are a bit over zealous about your freedom to have everyone understand “you are just feeding a baby”. I agree with you. You are. You have no obligation to be considerate of others that might not have had much exposure to nursing moms. They COULD learn from you that it is a natural thing to do and no big deal but your nipple “slips” will NOT help them understand it the way nursing mothers do. You could even turn some young women off, thinking, “If you have to show it all to nurse, it’s not for me!” Learn a little flexibility and buy a convenient cover-up and quit telling people your baby will be claustrophobic or too hot. Try it. Maybe you and your baby will like it. I believe that passer-by that accidentally sees your nipple will too…

  164. David McNamee

    +10. Yeah,though I’m a guy, IMHO this ahould be an editorial/commentary in every paper in the land, and if a book comes of it, incorporated in all schools at some level. The cultural taboo about breastfeeding is in fact malicious and backward-thinking. Onward!

    1. Anonymous

      Leave it to a man to butt in to women’s territory, women’s business, and scold women because many do not want to show their breasts with men around. How about you spending a little time getting men to dislplay their testicles and penises? Stop saying the cultural taboo for breastfeeding is malicious and backward thinking!! Who you calling backiward anyway???? You know what is backward, you and your male gender protecting and hiding anything about the penis and testicles, but you have the nerve to say that we females are backward and malicious. How dare you!!!!

      I am not a troll. I am a female who is tired of men always jumping into the discussions about women’s bodies, that they don’t know a darn thing about. You are a man!! Why don’t you start up a blog about penis implants, circumcision, shaving hairy balls, premature ejaculation,etc. 8-24-13

    2. Jessica

      Anonymous – Your boobs have one function. To feed babies. I don’t see why a man supporting women is offensive to you. More power to you, David and Annie!

    3. Anonymous

      Men look at breasts as sexual objects in this country and there is no getting around that. I, as a woman, would appreciate some modesty from breast feeding mothers. I had a sister in law that just let it all hang out where ever she was and she could have been much more discreet about it. The article says “being modest makes women feel like what they’re doing is dirty.” Really? I am embarrassed when a woman has her entire breast exposed and men are leering at her. In my day a woman tried not to put on a show when she was breast feeding.

    4. Anonymous

      Anonymous, you clearly read his response wrong. The man, in fact, was saying SOCIETY is backward-thinking, treating breastfeeding as a cultural taboo. You also clearly have issues with the penis. I hope you can work that out. If it werent for many penises of your ancestors past, you wouldn’t be here, complaining about them.

    5. MU

      Wow Anonymous… what the actual fuck is your problem?

      Thank you sir for supporting my right to breastfeed. Apparently Anonymous isn’t very bright.

    6. Anonymous

      Anonymous, are you crazy?
      If not, I think you should reread the article and the comment that David wrote. He nowhere said WOMEN are backwards thinking, he said thinking that breastfeeding is obscene, is backwards thinking. Calm down.

    7. gypsyangel16

      Anonymous,
      The guy is in SUPPORT of the article. Obviously you didn’t read his comment all the way, you scanned it and picked up on what you perceived to be negative.

      David, we need more people like you.

    8. Anonymous

      Whoa, calm down, Anonymous! This is an issue that affects all of society because it is only as a society as a whole that we can create long lasting policies and attitudes that prevent discrimination against breastfeeding women. This is not just “women’s business;” it’s everyone’s business. I, for one, am grateful to men like David who actively support women’s rights. Also, if you took a second to read what he wrote, you would notice that he in no way says anything to demean females or even comment on women’s bodies. He just says that there should be no taboo against breastfeeding–ergo, that women should have the freedoms to do whatever they need to do with their breasts when the feed their children.

    9. Anonymous

      Anonymous, I’m reading your ridiculous comment while feeding my 3rd baby. I’ll be thinking of you when I whip the tit out and feed my baby in public next time we’re in that situation. You ridiculous old coot.

    10. Anonymous

      I think a number of you are misunderstanding Anonymous’s “misunderstanding.” She is AGAINST breastfeeding in public, and is criticizing David for a) supporting the article, but more for b) being a man and holding an opinion on this issue. Anonymous is, in short, a bit of an idiot. But don’t misunderstand… she’s not on “our” side.

    11. Jo

      Really? You really compared a part of the body God gave us to nourish a life with a perfect food, with a penis? Do you go around exposing your vagina? Why would you want a man to expose his penis and testicles? And what the heck does any of that have to do with nourishing a baby? Um, that would be, nothing.

    12. aina azrul

      oh wow.. thank you anonymous for giving me a good laugh on this gloomy morning! oh and please deal with your issues with the male anatomy.. :P

      anyways, thank you Annie for this great article. very very well said.
      and thank you david for supporting babyfeeding moms.. ^_^

    13. Anonymous

      I think she just wants to see more penis’ s… maybe she is lonely, and tired of seeing breasts…. but on another note, I wish breastfeeding was more socially accepted, because if mothers werent made to feel that breastfeeding is dirty, then more mothers would breastfeed their children.. alot of women are too embarrassed or afraid of being judged to breastfeed and I think that is wrong, it is a natural and healthy part of life, and like the article says if you dont like it, look away… because that mother is doing NOTHING wrong, you are wrong for gawking (perverts) lol

    14. Anonymous

      I breast fed my children from 1980 (before it regained popularity) through 1995. I heard and experienced all you wrote about. Your article was spot on and should be required reading for all anti-boobers. I have two wonderful little breast fed grandchildren now and really encouraged their mommies. That is what breast feeding moms need, encouragement to do what is best for their babies and to heck with all those people who have a problem with breast feeding. You are so right that the problem is with our society – not hungry babies and their loving mommies.

    15. Anonymous

      Here’s what’s being said, and it’s true. Breasts are covered in our society, as are penises. We cover both. Let’s not make a double-standard by saying that we should cover both unless in this one circumstance. If this really has to do with women’s rights, then let’s really work on deleting the double standard. If women can show breasts to feed their children, then men can show their penises to adjust or just because it’s more comfortable. Wether we like it or not, breasts are considered a private part, and that’s the essential difference between “holding hands” and breast-feeding. It’s much more like sex in that you bare your private parts to do it, and that’s an essential part of the ‘bonding’. Breasts will never cease to be sexual in nature until no woman actually uses them to sexually arouse the man she loves. Once that stops happening, they can be just like you want them to be viewed, as eyes or ears, or any other bodily organ.

    16. intrigued

      I think its awesome to hear from a guy who supports breastfeeding. Many men are involved with it/around it. Mine supports it very much and doesn’t care one bit if he sees a baby nursing. Without his encouragement I couldn’t have gotten past the newborn stage of breatfeeding. Oh and trust me-he doesn’t “hide” anything about his penis lol :)

    17. Mitch

      @anonymous – you are posting in a public message board on a published article. You have no right to dictate who can participate. As much as it is your right to have freedom to breastfeed in public or private it is every person’s right to hold an opinion on whatever subject they may wish and to share it appropriately if they so choose.

    18. Alex

      Oh man, I can’t believe I let you bait me but here it goes:
      Nobody is trying to completely desexualise breasts. You’re right, that will never happen. But unfortunately for you, breasts are dual purpose. They have a sexual purpose and a non-sexual one. Don’t sexualise them when they are being used for non-sexual purposes. Most intelligent people will be able to grasp that difference. A breastfeeding mother who is having to hold her breast while feeding is not simultaneously shaking her booty and licking her lips.
      Penises are also dual-purpose. They can be used for sex and for urination. Neither of these purposes warrants public exposure so we expect them to remain covered. End of story. And stop fantasising about seeing penises everywhere.

    19. Debra Christopher

      It’s nice to see a man agree with us on here… But I’m a little confused as to why a man should not be allowed his opinion. In fact, a lot of our issues with breastfeeding in public stem from how men will look at us when we do so. We worry that men will be objectifying our bodies while we breastfeed. As far as most men I know, they look away when they see a woman breastfeeding. It’s not a sexual thing to them. It goes into that category of stuff they don’t know much about nor care to learn.

    20. Elsa

      I think we all have to accept that it sounds as though anon was born into the sadly mis informed generation before . She hinted at it when she said in my day we didnt go around exposing our breasts to breastfeed. My mom was born in that gen. They started telling women that bottlefeeding was best, that there were superior ingredients in bottle, and that because of work and other public functions women were finally invited to join men in the need for a bottle arose. She was offensive in her comments towards men and women , however, when did two wrongs ever make a right. Society as a whole is just now beginning to accept breastfeeding again as a legitimate source of nourishment for a child. In her gen it wasnt appropriate nourishment, it was outdated, like so many other human errors of judgement. I think we should try and look at her comment from her perspective, rude as it was. On other account, kudos to all who breastfeed. I found myself in claires getting ears pierced and baby has to eat, I cant say that anyone even noticed, although it was uncomfortable with no chair. I totally agree with the cover part, it shouts out to the whole world, hey lady breastfeeding here and my kids all kicked it off. It made more of a scene with than without.

    21. Anonymous

      Not to be another voice to berate Anonymous but there is nothing wrong with breast feeding it is the men who stare perversely who need re-trained in their thinking not the women doing what they were made to do.

    22. Heather Kramer

      David, thank you very much for supporting breastfeeding mothers. I’m sorry you were attacked for that by someone who failed to read your entire response. Truly though, I think most breastfeeding mommies appreciate men like you who refuse to sexual breath and realize they have a more important function: nourishment.

    23. Anonymous

      Breasts are not intended to be used for sex they are not an essential part of having sex, if you do fine but people use hands and tongues for sex too – should they not be exposed? Breasts are very different from penises THEY ARE NOT SEX ORGANS.

    24. Johanna Love

      I have to laugh at Anons comment.. how the hell do you get what He said to be negative. How did you not see the support in his comment. I’m very confused by YOU! Do you hate Men or something? Cause it sure seems like your ranting over absolutely nothing relevant to what his supportive comment was stating. Please learn to re-read properly before you make a food out of yourself.
      TY David.. very nice comment! My Husband is My Biggest Supporter, so its nice to see other Men out there Respecting us Nursing on Demand and NIP Mums! Have a Great Day Sir♡♡

    25. Richard

      The “I am not a troll” was a dead give away to the individual actually being a troll.

      Whilst a guy myself, I have no problem with women feeding their children in public. It’s not sexually appealing to me, and I think it is long past overdue that society grew up and stopped seeing women as merely sexual objects for guys to try and stake a claim on.

    26. Anonymous

      @Anonys – calm your tits, love
      David is supporting the rights of women to breastfeed. And as a breastfeeding mother my rights to breastfeed my baby wherever the hell I want to are protected by law

    27. Anonymous

      I think that David is awesome for being a man who is not only supportive of breastfeeding, but willing to say so (most men are very awkward even if they don’t have anything against it), so props to him! :) Also, Ms. Anonymous-Against-Public-Breastfeeding….all I can say is that you must have been raised on formula, because it’s the only logical explanation for your skewed and hilariously misaligned opinion on this matter. Breasts are not meant for sex, and it’s only humans who see them that way. Do you ever see a dog licking his chops at the sight of a female dog’s teats? How about a bull eying a cow’s udder? Maybe it happens with cats? WRONG! Only humans view breasts in any sexual manner, and that’s because we’re just plain weird as a species in the first place. Breasts are for feeding, first, foremost, and forever, period. Yes, many people also view them as an instrument for attraction, but really that’s not their natural purpose. And to the women in your life who just “let it all hang out” in public-good for them! I hope they do it every time you go shopping with them! EVERY TIME!
      Again, David, thanks for your support. Anonymous probably won’t read this, but oh well :D

    28. Anonymous

      The penis is a portion of the creation process. Don’t call one glamorous and then attempt to degrade the other. There would not be an infant to nourish without the penis.

    1. martydx

      100% agree its feeding a child if people look at it in an exposure kind of way what does that truly say about them ? It is not sexy its a child feeding its not perverted its natural people who only think of breasts in that manner have issues not poor person trying to feed their hungry child

    1. Kimberly Spurgeon

      Interesting article, though for some reason I found it kind of condescending. I breastfed my children (probably before you were even born). Been there. Done that. Now it seems like there’s almost this militant movement involving immodest breastfeeding (yes, I chose to use the word BREASTfeeding, and yes I believe in modesty at all times from young girls to women.) It all boils down to respect. I am not a prude (trust me), but I respect the fact that I’m sharing this planet with others that may not feel the same way you and I do. Why don’t we all respect each other and try a little tolerance (for those who aren’t mothers) and a little more modesty for those who are, It’s almost like breastfeeding mothers feel they have to show off – look at what a wonderful mother I am, breastfeeding my baby (or maybe I’m projecting because honestly I did feel that way too.) or that they have some political cause they need to march for. I agree with the earlier statement: What’s wrong with just covering up? Yes, it’s a little awkward, but if we were able to manage it a generation ago I bet you mothers can too!

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