the reality of nursing in public…

Most stories about mothers nursing their children in public are negative. We hear the stories of discrimination and oppression. Those against breastfeeding will claim they saw a woman fling her breast out to breastfeed her child. Breastfeeding mothers tell of snide comments they heard, demands that they leave a public place or feed their child in a restroom. I’ve had my share of comments. They do exist, as much as some will have you believe otherwise. Occassionally a mother may have a positive comment or smile. Personally, I try to encourage other mothers I see nursing in public, even if it’s just with a cheesy smile. However, overall neither of these scenarios is the norm.  

I’ve never once seen a woman fling a breast, which frankly sounds quite painful. If you know where I can witness this, please let me know; I’ve never quite understood the logistics of it. The truth if the matter is, most people don’t notice a mother nursing her child. When a child shows signs of wanting to nurse, a mother matter of factly lifts or lowers her shirt enough to allow the child to latch on. They nurse and go on about their business. No fanfare precedes the event. There are no requests for cheers or hurrahs. The mother is merely attending to her child’s needs, just as she would hug the child or hand the child food.

While negative experiences sadly occur, in the thousands of times I’ve nursed in public, the number of negative comments are comparatively small. I’ve nursed in a laundromat full of college guys, out hiking, in stores while pushing a cart, while helping my older children with crafts at a children’s museum, next to a strange man on an airplane (who was kind enough to offer to pull my tray down for my water), at concerts, parks, libraries, and more. Most of the time, no one says a word.

So while we do need to normalize breastfeeding and nursing in public, new mothers shouldn’t feel frightened to do so. Chances are, no one will even notice. If they do, it’s very likely they won’t say a thing. And if they do, take confidence in the fact that you are doing the best for your child and stay firm in your rights.

This post was originally posted on Nursing Freedom.

4 thoughts on “the reality of nursing in public…

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  1. I am now nursing my third child and have just now become more comfortable with nursing in public. However, now that she’s 7 months, she’s at the stage where she will not allow me to be discreet about it and go on with our business, as you described. She wants to pull and scratch and jerk, causing me to “fling out my breast” if I’m not careful. 🙂 And yes, I think mine are stretched out enough now that I could probably fling them around a bit.

    So now I run off to the bathroom to nurse. I hate it, but there are usually no other options. 😦

    I wish our culture was like so many others in which flinging your breasts around to nurse is no big deal. It’s like seeing an elbow or a foot…just another functional body part.

  2. I once nursed on a parade float in a parade. I don’t think anyone noticed. I didn’t think anything of it at first, then I realized I was extreme NIP since I was on display. But I think it was like you said and no one even noticed, they probably thought I was just holding my kid.

  3. Yay – I agree. I’m all for breastfeeding anywhere and everywhere! Infact I did a post on brazen breastfeeding a few months ago
    In my vision of a natural sane world I think that one day humanity will look back at laugh that there was ever such a time when women felt strange/ashamed/uncomfortable about breastfeeding in public 🙂

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