Breastfeeding in public around the world
This is a collection of notes about attitudes towards public breastfeeding in different countries around the world. On this page are comments from North America. Click here to see comments from countries in Europe, or from Africa, Asia, Australia, and South America.
If you, reader, have knowledge of how things are in some country concerning public breastfeeding, either because of living there or having visited, or otherwise, please leave your comments using the form below: is nursing in public common/rare, what are people's attitudes etc. We greatly appreciate your help in building these pages!
Breastfeeding is definitely pushed by prenatal educators, doctors, maternity wards etc.... I truly believe that having a full year of maternity leave is a HUGE factor in the increase of breastfeeding in Canada. I know that in many countries around the world women work and breastfeed at the same time. My hat is off to you superwomen! We used to have shorter mat-leaves. From what I understand most of the United States still have mat-leaves that are less than 6mos. I just don't understand how!! Perhaps because our country uses a universal health-care system, the government has realized that it is in the best interest of the "establishment" to promote something that has been proven to keep babies healthier!
My mother's generation had to be back to work in less than 16 weeks!!! For that reason and for lack of comfort (and because they told her it was just as good), my mother did not breast-feed me or my brothers. I don't begrudge her for it, and she has been supportive of my breast-feeding, although she can't offer much help or guidance to me! That's OK there is lots of help to mom's IF THEY ASK FOR IT! I tried to educate myself about breastfeeding before I had my first child. This was key to my being comfortable with it once the baby came. Isn't it silly that I had to research online what proper breastfeeding/latching looked like!!! Such is the nature of our North American culture. I grew up in a generation that believed that feeding your baby meant "bottle feeding". I am proud to say that my first daughter (who is 2yrs old), clearly recognizes that her little sister (6mos) is fed by the breast. She has even tried to put her doll to her own breast to mimic feeding :) I am proud of this and have tried to be a proponent of breast-feeding to extended and older generations of my own family! Hopefully women will teach their children/and families that it is not taboo, or sexual to bear your breasts to feed your baby. Even if you don't feel comfortable bearing your breasts fully in public (I cover myself with a thin recieving blanket), you should not feel self-conscious in your own home, or around your other children! Teach them that this is how babies are fed!
I am all for breast feeding! I think it's great that more women are breastfeeding their children! I live on the east coast of Canada and I have seen women breastfeed in public and I don't really think that it is a big deal. I don't see very many women do it, but most people don't have a problem with it. It's not like the mom just whips it out, but if there is some discreet covering, people usually are pretty good about it. The only ones that aren't, are just people who have nothing better to do with their lives than complain. I wish that people were a little more accepting of it. As for the whole topless beach situation, there really isn't any hwere I am from because the climate isn't really the best. It is usually cold for 9 months out of 12 and the little summer we do have is very wet and quite foggy. I don't think very many people would be very open to the topless beach idea. I wouldn't really care if a woman went topless at the beach, but I would rather not! I think that the general public are more accepting to nursing mothers than to women that just expose their breasts just for the sake of it.
Many women in Canada breastfeed, but more opt to formula-feed. In my experience, many women feel they do not produce enough milk, have too many painful issues, or simply do not want their breasts to be ruined by nursing their children. It seems that women feel breastfeeding is too huge a sacrifice and many are not prepared to even try. I see very few women feeding in public - it is socially 'expected' that the mother and child retreat to a washroom to breastfeed. People try to discreetly stare, and some even approach the mother to make a comment and 'correct' her behaviour.
I have breastfed my son from birth, (he is 8 months old now) whenever he lets me know that he is hungry, wherever we happen to find ourselves. I do not enjoy eating in the washroom, nor do I, or any of the people I know, enjoy eating or drinking under a blanket or cloth. I therefore do not expect my son to eat in any of these conditions either! If someone is offended by the way my child eats, they may avert their eyes and carry about their business. If children ask me what I'm doing, I tell them I am feeding my baby from my body, because my body makes the milk necessary to do so.
My hope for women in the world is to realize how their bodies were created, and to go back to the basics. If your breasts are producing milk during pregnancy and especially after childbirth - there must be a very good reason for it doing so. The reason breasts produce milk only during this phase of life, is because your baby needs the milk. It's that simple. Breasts don't randomly start producing milk when we're 10, or 45, because there is not a purpose for the milk to exist. Feed your babies, refuse to accomodate rude strangers, and enjoy the bond that will develop between you and your children. My husband enjoys watching me feed our child - it is pure, healthy and beautiful.
Being a fairly private, conservative person, I did not expect to feel comfortable breastfeeding in public. However, since giving birth to my daughter 5 months ago, I have had numerous occasions to feed her either at restaurants, on park benches, or in the mall. I use a "Peanut Shell" nursing cover (love it!) and feel I can be discreet while breastfeeding. I can honestly say nobody has ever looked twice or made a negative comment. How wonderful that Canadian society is coming to understand once again the importance of breastfeeding, and that women have the freedom to do what they need to do for their babies wherever and whenever they need to do it!
I rarely see women breastfeeding in public even though I live in Toronto (Canada's major city). Although I think that breastfeeding for at least the first 6 months is more common here than formula feeding, especially since we have a 12-month maternity leave. Usually I see nursing in public at the mom groups that my son and I go to. I breastfeed my son wherever he needs to eat at restaurants, movies, cafes, benches of malls, waiting rooms, even on the floor of a store. I have never had anyone say anything negative to me and never really noticed anyone giving a disapproving look either. Sometimes I am the first to start feeding my baby when in a group of moms and then the other moms will follow suite. I never use a cover either and am not uncomfortable baring my breast to feed my baby. Many women wear clothing that is more revealing when going to a nightclub! I think many of the moms I have met feel nervous to nurse in public because they do not see others doing it or if you do they have blankets and covers etc. Toronto is a major urban centre but I think many Canadians are pretty conservative when it comes to exposing the human body.
I am English but have lived in BC for 6 years and am still breast-feeding my 20 month son. I have breast-fed him everwhere - the Mall, the street (not comfortable but sometimes I had no choice), cafe's, restaurants, parks. I have never had one negative comment. The only time I was made to feel a bit uncomfortable was when he was a few weeks old and I asked a waitress if I could nurse him at the table. She asked me to use the washrooms (she was young and ignorant about it I think!). After that, I never bothered asking! Because I have friends with children both in Canada and England I think that it is slightly better supported in Canada but both countries are quite prudish and you can feel uncomfortable in public. Health Canada recommends BF until 2 years old so its easy to justify to anyone who comments and we are certainly encouraged here during our pregnancies (though I don't know how much support there really is if people have problems). I know I will feel more awkward as he gets older but then he is pretty much only having it night and morning now so the need to feed in public will get less. I firmly believe in breastfeeding in public, if I can eat in public then so can my baby! I'd like to think I'm setting a positive example for other mothers-to-be
Sonia Dawn Batten
I had my first child in 1991 and I breastfed her until she was 4 years old. Subsequently, I had two more daughters and breastfed them for 4 years and 4.5 years, respectively. In all those years I had only one negative comment and that was from a friend from England who told me I would one day resent my children for what they put me through. (We are no longer friends). I am now a forty-something, content mother of 3 beautiful girls, and I have no regrets. I have noticed that my eldest daughters are sometimes embarrassed when they see nursing mothers and this breaks my heart. It is certainly a reflection of the exploitation of female bodies that regularly occurs in this part of the world. I am doing my best to provide a more balanced perspective for them.
My daughter is 28 years old, I breastfed her until she was 5 years old. Actually 6 years old because I then started only for the nights before bed time.
Back then in the late 70's early 80's you only breastfed your children until 3 or 4 months....was considered good enough. And Alot of women were breastfeeding. I have seen many so I don't understand all this fuss.
I think women should nurse their daughters alot longer, because they are the ones that are going to be the next generation of mothers. It is alot a beautiful way to bond with your daughter and have a loving mother - daughter relationship.
It is a cultural thing as well, people didn't just start breastfeeding these days, they did it even though formula was around, most ethinic groups, spanish, italian, indians etc... did it and they don't do extreme as I did....about 4 to 6 months of breast feeding . Most of them did it. 90%
Breastfeeding in Newfoundland seems to follow an opposite trend to many other places. The trend I saw there was that the lower income group usually opted for the bottle (surprising considering the cost) while more of the middle to mid-upper group nursed. It seemed the upper income groups again bottle fed. I nursed my boy for 18 months. I fed in public, where or whenever I needed to, my life went on even with my baby. I was mostly descrete, but not to extremes. I was given some strange looks and a few comments and simply ignored them, I had heard horror stories of women asked to leave malls and such, but that has changed now. You see very few breastfeeding in public though the mood is changing as people are slowly becoming educated. In Newfoundland the breasts are purely sexual for most, though there are the few of us that use them the way God intended. I am planning to study to become a doula and will work hard to help other women realize the first and proudest function of their breasts! To feed their babies.
Canada - Ontario
Although breastfeeding is struggling to mack a come back in this country, it is still rare to see a mother nursing in public. I used to nurse my child in dressing rooms or in car, but I was never able to get over my own fears about Nursing in public. Feelings are mixed here about nursing in public, but I feel people are very tolerent of diverences and for the most part are polite and might just look away if offended then rather ask a mother to leave or worse nurse in the washroom. Bare breasts for the most part is a taboo here, a law was passed saying it was "legal" to go topless at the beach, but I have rarely seen it. Canada still has a lot of work to do to promote breastfeeding. I long for the day every mom nurses freely, and look forward to doing so with my next child, the more everyone sees it, the more "normal" it will become, with my second child there will be no hiding it, as it is a wonderful gift to give a child and the world.
I have been breastfeeding my baby for the past 6 months and have regularly done it in public (shopping malls, restaurants, park benches) without experiencing any negativity. When my baby was very small people regularly came up to me in the malls when I was feeding her and started asking about her, so there was no embarrassment there. BF rates here are very high on leaving hospital and I believe they are at about 40% at 6 months which isn't bad.
I Live in the USA and often feel like I'm being shamed by people for breastfeeding in public. We were out to eat one night at Olive Garden and I began to nurse my son while we were waiting for our food. A group of LADIES next to us SWITCHED TABLES!!!! It's very sad!!!
We were just on vacation in the Bahamas. We were stuck at the airport for a bit and I asked one of the ladies at the baggage counter about feeding my 6 month old and if it was ok. She said "Honey, feed that baby wherever you need to, let me get you a chair. Mine is 3 years old and he still doesn't want to give it up yet!" So in the Bahamas, they seem pretty friendly about it!
State: Grand Bahama
After living all my life in Brazil where breastfeeding in public is the norm it was shocking for me to experience the taboo of public BF in the US! I now live in The Bahamas where BF rates are low. I have never seen a Bahamian woman breasfeeding in public. It is so strange because there is such a mix of tourists coming here from Americans in swimwear and topless Europeans while Bahamians rarely go to the beach and when the women do they wear clothes over their swim wear when they get in the water. I think the religious culture affects modesty levels and this really impacts BF in a negative way. Since I feel comfortable BF whenever or wherever my child is hungry and none my eight ever allowed me to cover them I just BF'd in public and didn't even notice if people were looking or not. No one anywhere in the world has ever come up to me and reprimanded me for it although I have heard people in America discussing the fact that they think it is disrespectful for mothers to BF in public. The best we can do is to share what we know abut BF and educate ignorant people.
In Puerto Rico, only a little percent of the moms breastfeed at home. Since formula was given away by the WIC program, moms stop breastfeeding. For people in Puerto Rico breastfeeding in public is gross and unnecessary because the government give formula. The few moms that breastfeed in public covers herself with a blanket. When I have my first son, I told the nurse I'll be breastfeeding and she just said that is no enough for the baby he'll need formula, I had an argument with her and others because I didn't want my baby drinking formula.
Women here a split among the old natural ways and those more restrictive ways of the States. Urban areas see very little breastfeeding but the country side is filled with happy babies feeding from a breast. Have noticed that woman that come to visit and are nursing happily open their blouses and join the rest of the ladies nursing the old fashion way. Hopefully, I will be returning to the island soon and leaving the cold.
I have nursed 4 children over a 10 year time period and only ONCE has a stranger
looked right at me and my child while nursing and talked to me about it! I was in a
Waffle House. The waitress was from Haiti. When she came to take our order she
noticed my toddler nursing. The sweet woman paused, smiled and looked right at us.
She said, "Oh, she is already having her lunch. She'll grow to be strong and
healthy!" It was the sweetest thing!
American women, even those who breastfeed, seem uncomfortable looking at a stranger
who is breastfeeding or talking to a stranger about breastfeeding, especially while
she is breastfeeding her baby.
It is sad that women feel they need to cover up while nursing.
It is very, very sad that medical professionals don't encourage breastfeeding moms
to help breastfeed babies who have moms that are unable to.
Women are generally using formula here and it is not common to see a woman breastfeeding. I have lived in Arizona, Indianapolis, and now California. Most people aren't comfortable with women breastfeeding in public or bare breasts at all. But if you know me, then you know I did breastfeed in public, 2 kids, until they were 3 years old. I have large breasts and I don't hide myself. I am discreet but not very modest to be honest. I only had one problem breastfeeding in public, in an ER room in Indianapolis, IN at the county HX. My husband had been brought here on an emergency and I had a toddler and nursing 1 year old with me. They allowed me to use the phone at the nurses station where I held my fussy baby up to latch on .. and after a few minutes they sent a security guard to have me removed and said I was disturbing the ER. When I see a woman breastfeeding in public, I usually approach her and thank her.
Attitudes toward public breastfeeding seem to be getting better. I nurse my 6-month old (discreetly, with a shirt pulled up from the bottom but no blanket or covering) in the middle of restaurants and bookstores, in front of friends and family, even at a truck stop once, and have never received any negative comments or even inappropriate looks. At first I would ask in restaurants if there was any place they would prefer me to nurse my baby, and I was always told, "Anywhere you want. At the table is fine."
My hospital too was wonderfully supportive of breastfeeding, and with pumping and hard work, I was able to breastfeed my premature baby even after he spent a month in intensive care on a feeding tube. He was never fed anything but my milk.
My husband, who is religiously conservative, was a bit apprehensive at first but is now fine with me breastfeeding in public. He still prefers that I not breastfeed in front of his family and some of his friends, since he fears (probably correctly) that they would find it immodest.
Of the women I know, about half breastfeed to at least six months. Usually the breastfeeders are better educated and more financially able to cut back on work, while the formula feeders must work full-time for a living and/or had little social support.
Also, I hardly ever see other women breastfeed in public, and breastfeeding in public past infancy is seriously taboo.
Kristin Van Tilborg
I live in northwest Arkansas and have nursed my 6-month old in public since birth. I
am fairly discreet about it in that I wear a modesty cover and am generally sitting
at a bench or table, and I've never had anyone say anything to me or noticed
horrified or irritated glances. It doesn't seem like a big deal here in general.
I have lived in the same place all of my 18 years of life, and never have I seen anyone breastfeeding in public. From what I understand, most men in Arkansas only want to view the breast as a sex object and not for it's actual worth. As a pregnant woman, I do want to breastfeed, but I feel a bit self conscious about the idea of exposing my breast in public because of the fact that so many people here are judgemental. I think that breastfeeding should be seen as a natural event and promoted more in public places, especially in Arkansas.
State: California (South Cali)
I had my first and only child, a son, when I was 16. I'm 20 now. On top of the constant flow of negative comments I received about my age and my decision, I also got many disgusted looks. And that was when I was still pregnant. After my son was born I decided to exclusively breast feed. I was BF until I was 5 months old by my mother, she was BF until she was 7 months by her mother. The nurses and lactation consultant at the hospital were such a wonderful aid in my goal. They sat with me while I latched him on, while he fed, and then they'd console me. You see, I had plenty of milk but for whatever reason it just wouldn't come out. For 30 minutes of suckling my son was still wailing from hunger. For 30 minutes of solid pumping I only could gather 1 teaspoon of milk (every single time). I spent 2 full days at the hospital after my son was born so they had the round-the-clock observation and access to help me. After I went home there was no improvement and depression was setting
in. After 5 days of breastfeeding I switched to formula and supplemented with whatever milk I could produce. I still pumped every 3 hours for 30 min each time. It is sad that I'm one of the few women who couldn't BF for physical reasons, because I really had my heart set on it and too many women who can BF choose not to at all. When my son was only 14 days old I had to start anti-depressant medication so my milk was too dangerous to feed my son and he became exclusively formula fed.
Long story short, BF for me was not physically possible in the amount my son needed to be properly nourished so formula was needed. However my health care team did more than they ever had to in their effort to help me BF.
Publicly I hardly ever see BF in public, and when I do many people stare openly. Not out of disgust or lust, but simple curiosity. The few times I've seen somebody tell a BF mother to stop, or tell her it's disgusting/wrong I've noticed that the mothers were young (all under 20). It seems older mothers, that is of a more socially accepted age to be mothers, are left alone. There are also places for "Nursing Mothers and young children" set up in most malls, restaurants, churches, and movie cinemas here. They always include over-sized chairs or couches, a quietly playing TV of cartoons/the sermon depending on the location, two to three changing tables, and if not a closing door then a section of the wall is simply left 'open' as a doorway instead. Most often they are located next to restrooms.
I breastfed all three of my children. My own mother was very supportive of my decision, but my mother-in-law thought I was mental. She actually said once that I was selfish for not letting someone else feed the baby. I usually sought out a private place to nurse, if one was available. If not, I would do my best to wear clothing that allowed me to keep myself covered while nursing. I did this more for my own comfort than anyone else's. I didn't like feeling like people were staring or that some guy was getting sexually aroused watching me nurse. Weird people out there. Most states are supportive of nursing, but not all. Strange to me that you could be arrested for feeding your child.
In California, it's perfectly more accepted for women to breastfeed, but is done discretely and more public places than ever will allow it. However, you find many women cover their infants and themselves, or go to a secluded area to feed their babies away from being bothered or disturbed. I truly believe that American moral values, whether we're more puritanical or the P-C ness, made so many of our people not comfortable on the issue. The breast is highly sexualized beyond what men like me know how we admire the beauty of women... and the religious right's agenda to take down much needed reform to allow women to breastfeed, they believe is "indecent exposure" is totally bogus. The state health care program is actually for more babies to get breastfed, but continue to push baby formula mixes and consider a "proper time" to wean their infants when they don't reach a year old. Some working moms would mix the formula with regular milk or in some cases, their breastmilk to ensure they get every vitamin and mineral or nutrient that of course, formulas don't have by nature. +
I live in Southern California and breastfeeding in public is common. Most mothers will cover themselves with a small blanket or even a cape when in a restaurant, out shopping, etc. Amongst friends, it is not uncommon for the mother to just "whip it out" and start nursing. In other parts of the US, such as the Northeast, I have heard that women are much more modest. For instance, if out shopping, they will find a women's lounge in a department store rather than just a bench in the mall. I think that no matter how comfortable a woman is with her own breasts, she should be considerate of others who may be startled or (inappropriately) offended by a bare boob in public. I nursed my first child 10 months and am 2 wks along with my second and most people don't even notice if I'm breastfeeding in public. The health benefits of breastmilk are a big deal these days, and even the formula companies advertise with "breastmilk is best, but if you need a formula, use ours."
I grew up in Connecticut and moved down to a big city in North Carolina about 3 years ago. I don't remember ever seeing anyone breastfeed in public, but the lady who ran the mock trial homeschooling thing had a young child and was fine with breastfeeding it sometimes while we were teaching. I know mom breastfed me, I think I still have some tiny flashes of memory of it.
Nursing your baby until however long you want is not only beautiful and natural but smart. The sad fact that so many women stop or limit themselves in public because of pure ignorance is sad and wrong. This is a civil rights issue! All but three states have laws saying you can breastfeed anytime, any place, but very few states have laws to protect you if you are disciminated against.
I admit I was insecure about breastfeeding in public at first (my daughter is 4 months old) but now i feel it is important to do it openly. I will do it until she wants to stop, and I will continue to develop my skills of nursing while doing other things (she eats 27 times a day). If people want to confront me, bring it on. It is hard though that even if you have a strong personality it hurts to watch so many others judge you, and insecure men stare at you.
For anyone interested, I am a documentary filmmaker and I am just staring a film on this issue. If you'd like to participate and share breastfeeding stories, particularly ones in public, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for the site!
While breastfeeding in public here is becoming increasingly accepted, it still serves to make some people uneasy, even when mom is completely covered! More Americans need to realize that nursing mothers should be respected for giving their babies the best. My son is still nursing at 19 months, which has another stigma attached... people think toddlers are too big to nurse! Even if my son wasn't reaping nutritional benefits, nursing is still an integral part of his routine and security. Why should I snatch this comfort from him before he's ready just because he's turned a certain age?? Breastfeeding isn't "new age", it's ancient, natural, and proven to be best for Baby (and toddlers too!). Shame on the doctors of the 1950's for encouraging women to use formula and lying to young mothers about the "disadvantages" of breastfeeding. It's another dark chapter of US history that clings to our society still.
I am from California but visited Georgia recently and at the airport in Atlanta, I was told I could feed my baby in the bathroom after asking someone where I could sit. I then proceeded to sit on a nearby chair and breastfeed. I think the attitudes in the South(east) are not as progressive as in California, but that is just my observation.
Breastfeeding, public or otherwise, in the USA varies greatly from region to region and person to person, since it is such an extrememly diverse place. Rarely is breastfeeding seen in public in the south, and I usually preferred to nurse my daughter in the parking lot in the car or in a nursing room set up for that purpose. I had trouble with stares and criticism in a restaurant or appointment waiting room. The southern US is more "religious" than other parts of US. The breast is extremely sexualized in the US and there does seem to be an obsession with flesh in advertisement, leading to feelings of shame and unhealthy prioritization of sex over family and the feeding of babies. In some areas in the south (i.e. South Carolina) one can be arrested for indecent exposure and also Child Protective Services will take a child away from the mother who breastfeeds beyond the age of 1 year, presumably for "sexual abuse" reasons. (Newberry County) Breastfeeding rates are higher among the educated, since they have more information about its benefits and also social support. Some states are passing laws protecting public nursing. I'm not surprised to hear about the women in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina being distressed not to have formula. The poor and uneducated were the majority who were left behind when the hurricane hit and this population views breastfeeding with more sexual bias and more formula is used by poor welfare mothers, because it is completely subsidized for them by the government and they also have to go back to work sooner after giving birth, so it is more in the poorer culture to not breastfeed. (it is not accepted to take time off work here to pump milk or tend to children, who are rarely, if ever, allowed to come to work with mother and mother can be fired for answering calls to tend to children too frequently) I spoke with some of the poor mothers in the health care waiting rooms when I was nursing and they swore they would never do THAT - something like it was gross or something. Also the government/indigent hospital (MCG) here in Augusta, Georgia does not give very much support to new mothers in learning breastfeeding, according to my friend who gave birth there and works there. In contrast, I immediately after giving birth received wonderful instruction from a lactation consultant at Mission St. Joseph hospital in Asheville, North Carolina, who provides some but less indigent care than MCG. Where one lives in the US and how much money one makes or education one has is everything to do with it here.
Personally I believe that breast feeding is a beautiful thing. I am 17 and my son is 5 months old. I am still breast feeding him. I have breast fed him in public a few time, but it does make me feel uncomfortable because people around me (in public places) tends to act as if it is weird or disgusting. My whole family is very supportive of it though, even my dad and my boyfriends family, too. I feed him in front of whoever I want. I feel that breast feeding a baby is the same as someone eating in public if you dont like for a baby who cannot fend for itself to eat in public, then you shouldn't do it either. Because one thing that I find disgusting is going into a restaurant and watching how some people eat, I find them to be more indecent then seeing another women's breast. You don't see the mess a baby is making all over the place and being rude eating with their mother wide open or spitting everywhere and talking so loud they disturb everyone around them. I would much rather eat in a place where everyone was breastfeeding their babies or even shop in a place where women were breastfeeding them taen to have to put up with the rude disgusted unmannered people you see in public.
I am from California and I must say that I am more used to seeing babies fed by bottle than by the breast. With my first child, who is now 9 years old, I failed at breastfeeding. I was so much younger and did not have support and did not know how to find support like the local La Leche. With my son who is 4 months old I exclusivley breastfeed. I breastfeed at home even when my grandfather is visiting, he has never minded. I also breastfeed in public. When I first had to feed by breast in public I was very embarassed even covered with my wrap special for hiding the breast. Now my son does not like to be covered and moves the cloth away from his face so I just bare my breast while feeding him in public. It is very easy to do so, i always wear an undershirt as well as a regular shirt so I can cover my tummy and majority of the breast and rarely show nipple. Sometimes I get looks and can tell other people might be a little uncomfortable, but I rather my baby be comfortable than strangers.
Wow!!! It was empowering to learn some of the cultural differences of public breast feeding. I am a thirty-seven year old mother of three, currently nursing a thirteen month old. He is the only child I have breastfed and when we are in public I nurse him in the car, public breastfeeding is viewed as indecency in the United States. I came to this website looking for research. I am writing a college thesis on cultural attitudes toward public breastfeeding in America compared to other countries around the world. One of my points is that the low rate of nursing mothers is in part due to the behavior of the public toward nursing in public. I have received some wonderful insight toward breastfeeding in public around the world from your website.
Thank You, all very much! Do what's best for your baby and try to forget the ugly stares and sneers.
State: Northern California
Here in California, most women at least try to breastfeed, and breastfeeding in public is pretty common. Many women will cover with blankets, and nost try to be discreet about showing nipples, etc., but you'll rarely get any negative comments, and the benefits of breastfeeding are pretty widely known. Also, breastfeeding is explicitly allowed in public places, and breastfeeding women aren't subject to nudity or topless laws.
I'd say about 1/2 of all women with children over 3 months breastfeed in public, and the rest either bottle feed breastmilk or formula.
I think the attitude in many Western states is pretty libertarian...if it's not hurting anyone, you can do what you like, and you should have the right to do it (as a matter of personal choice).
I have three children. I have a 22 year old, a 20 year old, and a 13 year old. As a result of the span of time between the older two and the younger one, I have lived through the changes of breastfeeding stigmas over time. When my girls were babies it was not necessarily a proper social norm to breastfeed (and talk about it). If you chose to breastfeed, you were expected not to talk about, and you would never do it in public. The stigma that existed at that time kept me from the joy of breastfeeding my girls.
With my son, it was expected that a woman breastfeed and if she did not then she was not a good mother. It did not matter if the woman for some reason was not capable of breastfeeding, she was still not a good mother. The issue of public breastfeeding was and is still a major issue with men as well as women. Men look at women's breasts as sexual and they also feel uncomfortable with their child's mother feeling that they have the freedom to expose their breasts in any way, even it is under a blanket. Women on the other hand say they feel comfortable with other women breastfeeding in public, but invariably they make comments about a woman doing this once they are out of earshot.
We should face facts, women have breasts for a specific reason, for feeding their young. If a mother has a baby who is hungry she needs to feed her child. That mother should not have to go and sit in a public restroom or her car to feed her child. If any of you out there are uncomfortable with women breastfeeding in public that is your issue, don't make it ours.
I am a 25-year old Mom and Nursery/NICU Nurse and have been breastfeeding my son for almost 8 months. I live in Kentucky and rarely see women breastfeeding in public, although I assist women with breastfeeding everytime that I work. I would guess that about 1/2 of women start out breastfeeding in the hospital in our area. Without support, lots of them probably switch to bottle after they go home. I have actually held babies at the breast of exhausted Moms on the postpartum unit and latched them myself because they wanted to breastfeed and needed assistance. I breastfeed my son in my car a lot, and under a blanket in the lounge area of the restroom at Macy's or other dept stores and sometimes in restaurants. I would love to see other women breastfeeding more in public, but understand that some women are just scared of other people's reactions. My mom breastfed myself and my sister. I think my cousins (that weren't breastfed and don't breastfeed their kids) think that I'm "weird" because I do breastfeed my son.... they ask me how long I will breastfeed him like it is something horrible! I love it as much as he does:) and would not trade that little chubby face looking up at me for anything!!!
I work in a mall in Louisiana and the majority of the women I see use bottles and formula to feed their babies. It is not very common to see a woman breastfeeding in public places although it is more likely now than 20 years ago. Most people I talk to are against breastfeeding in public and they think it is disgusting and nasty. I don't care if a woman breastfeeds in public and I am a male. I think women should have the right to feed their babies whenever and wherever they want to. I've seen more breast on the beach than I do from most breastfeeding women and skimpy bikinis are completely acceptable. I think it is the idea of a woman using her breasts for something other than sex that most people have a real problem with, not the actual breast exposure.
Here in the Deep South, as in many areas of the US, it is heartening to find that breastfeeding is becoming much more common than it used to be. However, the rates are still disappointingly low.
There is an active effort on the part of hospital employees and physicians to promote the practice; however, new mothers receive mixed messages as they are bombarded with gift bags containing formula samples and coupons touting the different formulas available to them 'just in case' they are unable or do not want to breastfeed.
There are a myriad of reasons why new mothers here choose not to breastfeed. Since many here in the US live a life based on what is convenient and not necessarily what is best, many mothers completely reject the idea of breastfeeding as inconvenient. Others pay lip service to the knowledge that 'breast is best', half-heartedly attempting to breastfeed their babies for six weeks or three months. Some make it to the six-month mark recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Fewer do not. It is difficult for many to pass up the glossy allure of formula's convenience.
In the midst of the conservatism in this part of the country, breastfeeding in public is certainly taboo, and this taboo permeates intimate gatherings among nuclear family members and close friends as well. Consequently, I have never seen ANYONE here breastfeed in public, with one exception: myself.
Five years ago, at the age of thirty-two, I became pregnant with my first child. Determined to provide the best for him, I educated myself on the pros and cons of breastfeeding versus bottlefeeding. In my mind, the decision was an obvious one.
I was fortunate in that my son was a natural at latching on, and I had no problems except the inevitable sore breasts and the inability to feed him whenever or wherever he needed to be fed. The soreness faded; however, the restrictions on feeding my son continued. At first, I rebelled against a culture that failed to provide the freedom to nurture and nourish children the way nature intended. I openly but discreetly breastfed in public, purchasing special clothes that allowed full coverage for me while at the same time providing easy access to my breast. Many people ignored it; others were not so forgiving. At one point, another young mother glared at me with such open hostility, that had her eyes been able to throw the barbs she wanted to throw, my son and I would have died on the spot.
Eventually, though, the politeness inbred into most of us born in the South did not allow me to continue to offend other people. I still breastfed my son, but did so in private. He breastfed almost exclusively until he was one year old, thanks to a progressive employer that provided a 'Mommy room' that allowed nursing mothers to pump whenever they needed. He breastfed until he was two and a half years old.
My situation is not common here. Many women simply give up because frankly, unless you are alone, it's much easier to whip out a bottle than a breast here.
I hope this changes soon, as we are definitively doing our children a disservice by not providing their mothers the freedom to give them what they need in public.
I nurse my son in public because it is necessary. I also secretly hope that it helps to enlighten others who may think breastfeeding an older baby is weird or wrong. seeing another breastfeeding mother makes me feel an instant bond with her and her beliefs. I was not breastfed and began doing so for my son at my husband's request. I had no idea that it would become such a hugely important part of my life. I had no idea that I would enjoy it so much. it makes me sad now that my mom was not aware of the benefits she and I both would have received if we had had a breastfeeding relationship.
State: Chicago, Illinois
I have many friends who are too afraid or embarrassed to breastfeed in public. Others will go into a corner or cover up.
Although I know a lot of people are uncomfortable with breastfeeding, I think that a poor hungry baby is much more uncomfortable than the adults! He or she doesn't know about cultural taboos... he only knows the pain in his poor little stomach. I breastfeed in public whenever my baby needs to eat. I try to be as discreet but without making my baby uncomfortable. I don't care if people know that I am breastfeeding. Every time an American mother publicly breastfeeds she is slowly making it easier for the mothers to follow her. If everyone did it, as it is a mother and baby's right, no one would care.
I feel my country is very progressive with regard to public nursing. I nursed my baby until she was 7 months old, quite often in public with no problems. I never received so much as a negative look from anyone. We are in Chicago. The laws provide much protection for nursing mothers in the U.S. Most states, including Illinois, have civil legislation that prohibits businesses or municipalities from telling a woman she can't nurse in public. There is much public awareness about the benefits of breastfeeding. The only negativity I have ever seen has been in newspaper and magazine letters to the editor, usually written by women who have chosen not to breastfeed or cannot for medical reasons. They are the only ones who seem to be offended by anything to do with breastfeeding, whether it be public nursing or even pro-nursing magazine articles. I've heard stories on sites such as this about older men getting offended but have never experienced anything first-hand or even heard anything like this happening to my friends. Breastfeeding is considered a normal part of motherhood. It is up to women to continue to nurse in public to enforce the image of a mother's breasts as non-sexual sources of nourishment.
I WORK AT A MALL HERE IN IOWA,I AM A SECURITY OFFICER AND THEY DO LET WOMEN BREAST FEER WHERE EVERY THAY WANT TO. BUT THEY ALL USE THE FAMILY REST ROOMS. THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH A WOMAN BREAST FEED WHERE THEY WANT TO,IF THEY WANTED TO THEY CAN SET IN THE FOOD COURT AND BREAST FEED IF THEY WANT TO.
I actually work as a breastfeeding peer counselor for the Unified Government of Kansas and I know how important breastfeeding is-all the statistical information. I breastfed my now 3 1/2 year old for 6 months and I stopped at 5 months with my second child due to her teeth. BIG MISTAKE!! I hugely regret it and am now in the process of relactating so I can at least pump and give her breastmilk. Cancer runs rampant in my family and children who are bfed have up to a 65% LESS chance of dev. cancers later in life. They have a 50% less chance of becoming obese-which we all know is a huge prob. in America. I have never been critized for feeding in public- and I would just dare someone to say something in my earshot!! Makes me wish our society was more like the Asians with regards to bfeeding.
I am an American woman married to a Brazilian man. We have a little boy who is now 2. He is still nursing and shows no signs of stopping. lol He LOVES to nurse. I nurse him discreetly in public all over the place in Kansas. I have never had anyone say anything to me. Sometimes people will look at me,.. look at what I am doing... and I can see them suddenly realize and look away. OR,.. I will just smile and they smile back. No big deal.
Some of my friends have asked me "When are you gonna stop doing that?!" and when they give me a hard time I counsel them on their sexual neruosis and advise them to remember that it is simply a cultural difference and nothing more.
In BRAZIL- I LOVE LOVE LOVE BRAZIL's attitude towards nursing. When we visit Brazil, not only is it no big deal, but several times I have had women come up to me while he is nursing and pet his head or even kiss his cheek! His cheek- right there next to my breast. That made me laugh and didn't bother me at all. ( I sorta kinda knew the woman,.. sorta) And once while on a plane in Brazil, as I was breast feeding,.. the man sitting next to me was holding and massaging my little boys foot- which I thought was very sweet.
I love BRAZIL and I think that although the US needs to lighten up,.. if you as the mother have a positive attitude of confidence about public nursing then you can avoid negative responses. I am always ready in my head to say to an American, "The World Health Organization says that breast feeding till they are 2 years old is optimal," and then smiling very big.
I live in baltimore, Md. I'm a first time mom who breastfeeds. I feel that a lot of women are breastfeeding again and catching on to the fact that breast is best. My son was born 8 weeks early and lived in the NICU for a few weeks. In the NICU every mom breastfeeds, or pumps so the preemies get their milk. I pumped my heart out until my son could go to the breast, then when we brought him home I still had to pump for his supplement bottles.... I worked so hard to get where I am and now my son is 11 weeks and all on the breast and I will breastfeed in public and be proud to do so!
I am from Jamaica and live in the U.S. Majority of women do not breastfeed their babies or breastfeed in public. Women are very uncomfortable about the subject. They are afraid that it will hurt or cause their breast to sag, etc. I am breasfeeding my 4 mth old daughter and plan to continue until she is 1-2 yrs old. I know that breast is best and it is the natural way of feeding a baby. In Jamaica mothers breastfeed their babies. My mom breastfeed me until I was 1 1/2 yrs old, and I am so proud of that.
I breastfed all three of my children, although I was never breastfed myself by my mother. My first child was born in Michigan, and I nursed him in public, although I always had a receiving blanket or something, to drape across my shoulder. My second child was born in Vermont, the third was born in Maine. In every case, I breastfed my children wherever I needed to. None of my children ever received formula. My son nursed until he was about 26 months and then naturally weaned himself. I weaned my daughter when she was about 30 months because I was pregnant with the third child and too tired. At that point, nursing was a "don't offer" thing...and it was not a problem to have her let go of it. The third child would have kept nursing until she was much older (LOL) but I weaned her, for good, when she was about 3, I think.
If ever I got any sort of look from anyone, I figured it was that person's problem, not mine. I always felt like women who gave their babies bottles of formula were the ones who should feel embarrassed, not the breastfeeding moms! It helped that my husband was from Iran and completely comfortable with breastfeeding as a way of life. He himself had not only been breastfed by his mother, but also his family had a wet nurse that the children had all fed from when they were babies/toddlers!
I think it is ridiculous that American culture sexualizes the breast to the point of even girls and women saying, "Ewww" about breastfeeding. It is the third stage of pregnancy, after the gestation, the birth itself. It is natural, sterile, always ready, free, and creates a beautiful bond between mother and baby that is not accomplished any other way. It is demanding, yes, because a mom is always near her babies (from time to time you may be away for a couple hours, but your life is scheduled around having the breast available for most of that child's early life) but I would not have given it up for the world.
Breastfeeding is not that accepted here. There are some people who think that it is ok and then there are others that hate it. Doctors here suport it and will ask you if you plan to breastfeed but they wont push anyone in to doing so. I think that more people should acccept it because its natural and the way these babies were supposed to be fed. I think our society needs to let it be accepted and not put mothers down who do want to beastfeed the babies.
I am a Salvadorean. In my country it is the norm to breastfeed anywhere you go. However I had both of my boys in USA (I have lived here for more than 15 years) which I can tell you it is quite different. Though culturally still not the "norm," I breastfed my children anywhere I went. Sometimes I got stares and I would just make a positive remark "Why, breastfeeding is good". I now work in a program that promotes breastfeeding. I can honestly say that breastfeeding is the most wonderful, nurturing thing that a mom can do for her children. I wish breastfeeding was more acceptable in the USA one of the most powerful countries in the world. Hurray, for the breastfeeding moms in the USA, KEEP UP THE GOOD ATTITUDE.
I lived in Guatemala while adopting and breastfeeding my daughter. We landed in Texas when she was almost 4 months old - I breastfed wherever and whenever without incident. Then we moved to Michigan when she was 18 months and I am still breastfeeding my obviously adopted babe who is over 2 years old now. I never had a problem in any of the places we've lived. I've never covered up, surrounded myself with other breastfeeding mommas, and I still nurse in public whenever she asks for it and plan on child led weaning.
I cant fathom a birth mother not being able to breastfeed - when I having never been pregnant was able to get a full supply without medication (just constant feeding and using a supplementor) within two months. We must be very lucky ;)
Here in Mississippi you don't see moms breastfeeding in public, but that has not stopped me. I have not received any harsh treatment or dirty looks. People seem to be okay with me nursing my son in public.Ii do use a cover because I don't feel comfortable without it. I have been given plenty of support by doctors, nurses, and a lactation counselor. My biggest opposition was my own family. No one in my family or my husbands had breastfed. My son is 6 months and my most of my family is now comfortable with me breastfeeding him and the ones who aren't, well, that's their problem. There is a W.I.C. program here that provides free formula but the W.I.C. program also tries to encourage moms to breastfeed. They offer free education and lactation counseling. They have posters hanging to encourage moms to breastfeed. The doctors and nurses here support breastfeeding, but still moms don't breastfeed. Most moms are uncomfortable with breastfeeding. You very seldom see it taking place, hear other moms talking about breastfeeding, or even know anyone who breastfeeds. Personally, I don't know one mom who breastfeeds or who has breastfed their baby. However, I once seen a mom nurse her baby in the waiting room of the pediatrician's office. We were the only ones in there and she was an older mom like me in her late 30's. It is normal for moms to try breastfeeding for a few days or a week but then almost all breastfeeding moms quit before their babies reach two weeks of age. Breast are very much a sexual object here. Anywhere you go you see ladies with their shirts form fitted and theri breasts popping out. Most of them in tow with their little 5 and 6 year old girls dressed the same way. Of course the beaches are a flesh fest but, I never seen anyone topless. With all the education and support moms receive during pregnancy you would think more moms would breastfeed their baby. But the biggest reason moms don't breastfeed is because of the free formula they are given through W.I.C.. If moms had to buy formula they would reconsider their choice.
Breast feeding is encouraged and I had to learn. I breastfed 3 children after I learned how. It is not openly done in public. Most women cover their breasts. I plan to nurse again. It was very rewarding and I felt that my child and I bonded and it was very healthy for the baby.
I am now breastfeeding my second child. She is 8 months. I breastfed my son until he was 2 years and 3 months old. He fondly remembers breastfeeding and he lets me know when he thinks the baby needs nursed! I really enjoyed breastfeeding my son and I plan on breastfeeding my daughter until she is two years old if she wants to. I received a very nice breastfeeding cover-up as a gift that I use everyday in public. It is light weight and discrete. I breastfeed everywhere in public with my cover-up on. I always felt uncomfortable breastfeeding my son in public although I did it anyway. I would try to cover us up with a blanket, which made us both hot. I am very comfortable now out in public with my cover up. Breasts are private, and strangers don't need to watch me nurse without being covered.
I was lucky enough to receive the book "Womanly Art of Breastfeeding" when I was expecting my first child. It gave me confidence! And the idea that nursing was the best thing I could do both for my baby and myself. We tried it and liked it and before we knew it, were nursing anywhere and everywhere.
I got pretty good at nursing in public discreetly but I consider it important to NURSE in public. Let others figure out that this is the natural way to take care of your baby.
I have heard lots of curious and positive comments. I think the reason I haven't heard negative comments is (well--some pure luck) but also because I am completely confident that it is the right thing to do. I want to help the public figure out that this is normal so that my daughters (and daughters in law) will not hesitate to nurse in public and will feel supported by the community.
One of my most treasured nursing in public experiences was when my daughter was small and we lived in Germany. As I tried to be very discreet, some older folks realized my daughter was not just sleeping in my arms and a nice conversation started up: "Sie gibt das baby die milch!" "Why, she's nursing that baby! Isn't that nice? You don't see that enough these days! Etc.
State: New Jersey
Breastfeeding in public without covering up is a big no no in the USA. People are very uncomfortable with it as it is very uncommon to see a mother nursing with her breasts exposed in public. Americans are also very uncomfortable with the notion of breastfeeding past the age of 6 months even though the World Health Organization reccomends nursing for at least the first two years. As a mother nursing an 18 month old I am constantly mocked at work and get this... I work on a maternity floor! America has a long way to go before breastfeeding is accepted and encouraged for not only newborns. The formula companies really did a number on our mothers and grandmothers and now we need to return back to nature. I am very happy for the mothers from countries who dont have to wrestle with a cover while nursing.
I am a 27 yr old American, and I have a 2 1/2 year old son. Doctors, lactation consultants and pediatricans encourage breastfeeding, however, not everyone does. Me, personally? I've been told I need to wean him and that I offend people by breastfeeding. My opinion is if you don't like it then don't look. It is not my fault if a man gets turned on by a woman breastfeeding. That makes him a pervert to me. Breasts are not sexual objects, people make them sexual objects. Here breastfeeding after a year is considered unnecessary. But for my son it's comfort. Like a blanket or binkie. If people don't want us mothers to feed in public then they need to make a place that's convenient where we can.
State: Syracuse, N.Y.
Im from Syracuse N.Y. Breast feeding isent the norm here. Most women bottle feed. I have been breatfeeding in public since my son was born 4m. I have gotten like 2 dirty looks but Ive also recived countless approving smiles! I would say for the most part it is not frownd on here but at the same time not many women breastfeed out in public. I make it a point to bf in public. Im not modist about it at all. I dont think I should be. The more people see it the more normal it becomes. Health care workers strongly support Breast feeding here too.
State: rural NY
I've been breatfeeding my 3 month old son and have not recieved any negetive comments or looks. I did embarrass one older man but he appologized and walked away blushing as if it were his fualt. I don't really cover up when I nurse but I do use a sling that offers some coverage (to respond to a previous poster, an unpadded ring sling works well for petite people like me).
Before having my son I worked at a daycare and noticed that lower income women were the ones most likely to use artificial milk to feed their babies while the middle class moms were most likely to breastfeed. This really makes no sense to me as they have the same pediatrician and all delived at the same hospital (it's a small town) but that's how it is. I genuinely hope things change as the lower class moms would really benefit from the savings (and the fewer Dr visits).
State: New York
There are so many ugly things humans do to one another that breastfeeding, which is one of the most lovely things humans can do, should be criticized is very hard to
understand. Every thing humans can do that is life-affirming should be glorified, not criticized. Breastfeeding wherever it done is one of those activities.
Larry & Jane Perlman
I had my first child in Germany, and got balled out by the germans for NOT breast feeding in public!! They consider it very natural up to whatever age works for the mom generally. I breast feed him until he was two. My second child was born in the United States. Breast feeding her in public was a nightmare, right from the beginning! I don't know what sexual issues American's have with breasts, but its ridiculous! The number of times people had a fit, even when I was being discrete, was just insane! I didn't care though, I breast feed her until she was 3. It amazes me.... breast milk is the perfect food (and free!) and people in the U.S. scream about nursing a child but have no problem with you giving them the most unhealthy junk food!!!! What is WRONG with Americans??????
I often see women breastfeeding in public, even while sitting at an outdoor restaurant table. But today I was shocked to see a woman who was totally topless - I walked up behind her and noticed her back was bare from neck to waist, and I was curious so when I walked past I looked at her front, and, no shirt! Her boobs were mostly covered by the baby. It all seemed very weird.
I'm 22 years old and I have lived in New York my entire life. I can only remember seeing women breastfeed in public a handful of times. Sadly, most women in the US do not breastfeed, mostly because they are uninformed about the benefits or ashamed by the idea of feeding thier child that way. I remember when one of my best friends became pregnant and I asked her if she was going to breastfeed - she looked at me like I was crazy! She told me that formula is better because they put vitamins in it then is in breastmilk. I didn't even ask were she got that misinformation - I just dropped the subject. I do not have any children, but I know that when I do have them I will breastfeed. I remember being shocked when my mother told she never thought about breastfeeding me when I was born - even though she was breastfed herself. My cousin has two daughters and she breastfed both of them. She nursed her 5 y/o for 19 months and her 2 y/o is still nursing as far as I know. When the day comes that I'm ready to have children, I know I will be asking her a lot of questions. The BREAST is BEST!
I live in the "Big Apple" of New York City. I am 21 years old and have a one month baby girl. I am currently breastfeeding and plan on doing so until she's ready to wean.
When I was in the hospital after giving birth, out of over 30 babies born that day I saw only 2 women breatfeed.
I had to share a room with another woman who just gave birth as well. She was a 27 year old school teacher and against breastfeeding. She asked me if I was going to breastfeed and I said, "Definetly". I asked why she chose not to, and she replied, "Just thinking about breastfeeding... I just can't". She said it as if it was disgusting. It didn't hurt me one bit, she didn't mean any harm, it was how she felt. It must have been the way she was brought up.
In New York and Los Angeles CA, if your breasts are not full, if they are not big and perky than they are not beautiful, unless you have surgery. Ever since I have been breastfeeding my breasts have never looked so good.
I am half white and Cherokee Indian. I feel that breastfeeding being looked down upon originated by the white society.
To all those women out there who are unsure: BREAST FEED YOUR BABIES AND DON'T GET SUCKED INTO SOCIETY. If all of these playboy models and victoria secret models breastfed then all the other women who sceeved breastfeeding would start breastfeeding too. I feel that if you are an attractive female, and if you were to breastfeed in public, you will change some girls minds about breastfeeding because Americans judge people by the way they look. It's pathetic, but true.
State: North Carolina
I have two children that are now grown and I breast fed both of them until they were of some age, my son was 4 when I stopped breast feeding him and my daughter was well past going to school. Actually she would come home from school and want to breast fed. I think it is wonderful and a great way for mom to lose weight after having a baby, have very healthy children and a wonderful way to bond. My grandson is 8 and he is a breast fed child. He was 5 when she stopped. So not everyone is closed minded to this topic and subject. I had people tell me some strange and stupid things when I had a 4 year old breast feeding I would not sit in a mall back in the 70's but at a park or somewhere more private if my child wanted to breast feed that was fine with me and I was always discreet with it. I wish it had not been so "taboo" now I would breast feed anywhere anytime and not bite my tongue if someone said something to me like I did as a 20+ young mother who only wanted the best for her child. They were never sick like children are today and they enjoyed it as much as I did.
State: North Dakota
I had my first child at 21 and had little Breastfeeding support, we didn't succeed. At 27 I had my 2nd child and nursing was a success, she is now 18 months and still nursing on demand. We nurse anywhere and at any time. I have not received any negative comments at all, maybe a few surprised and odd looks is all. In my 6 years living here I have only seen one other person nursing in public, I find this very sad.
But I will continue to nurse my daughter and let her self wean.
State: Ohio, Holmes county
Here in Holmes county most women nurse for 3-6 months. I have nursed all 3 of my daughters exclusively until they quit on their own (~14months) but in this area we are not encouraged to nurse in public. I am the oldest of 7 and my mom nursed all of us anywhere and everywhere, with no trouble, but I have gotten negative comments even when totally covering with a blanket. When the men see the blanket they know you are nursing, and get totally turned on by the whole idea. I think this is because showing anything below the collar=bone is soo taboo in the Amish culture. I have found that if I bring the blanket up to the baby's cheek, and put my shirt down to her nose, they can't tell you are nursing and so are not offended. I also nurse in the sling in public for the same reason.
I breastfed my son, who is now 5, until he was two and a half years old. I had a lot of people give me a hard time over it. At the time, my doctor and my lactation consultant were breastfeeding their 3 and 4 year old children. So, I had all the support I needed from them. After my doctor left my area, my son was just over a year old, I went to see a pediatrition who told me that I needed to stop breastfeeding my son because he was too old. Needless to say I never went back to that woman. About breastfeeding in public, when my son was 2 months old, we sat on the end of a bench at the fair and I nursed him, everyone was staring at us, but a few minutes later a woman with a toddler sat on the other end of the bench and breastfed her child also. We laughed and called it the breastfeeding bench. I was proud to have given her the encouragement to sit in public and nurse her child. Women should be encouraged to breastfeed even when they are in public there is nothing wrong with it.
I find opinions on breastfeeding to be a very mixed bag. I have breastfed both of my children, with the first one I tried to be discreet as possible with feeding him. Once they get to a certain age, though, babies do not like to be covered and on more than one occasion, my breast was exposed. I was a little embarassed but I lived through it. With my second child I still try to be discreet but I really don't care as much. I do get dirty looks, but I also get knowing smiles from other mothers who have been in the same situation. I really wish people would just get over the fact that breasts are not always put on display for sexual purposes. They are made for feeding our precious babies! My dear has been so supportive of breastfeeding, he shared with me that he doesn't even think about it when he sees a mother breastfeeding in public - he just thinks of it as normal and doesn't avoid the mother, nor stare. I really think this country needs more education on nursing, it is really what is best. Many mothers start out trying and give up quickly. Education and support would make a big difference!
I nursed my first daughter until she was a year old. My community, hospital, friends, family, and even strangers were very supportive. It is well known that breastmilk is best, and I have never had anyone say anything negative to me while I was nursing in public. Most people don't even know that you are feeding your baby, when the shirt is lifted from the bottom.
State: South Carolina
I wish people would stop commenting on a "indecent exposure" law in SC. They took that law off the books a few years ago.
I'm still nursing my 17 month old boy and some people think I'm a bit nuts, but we don't really nurse in public because he doesn't nurse around other people, he'd rather play and explore. My experience has been very positive. Over half my friends nurse their babies to at LEAST a year and they nurse in public. Even though I live in the south east, everyone seems to nurse. The positive outlook on breastfeeding might have something to do with living in a small metropolis and near a major university. I had a good lactation consultant who did multiple follow-ups in the hospital and at home. We tried latching immediately after birth with the staff's help and blessing.
Our local mall has several nursing rooms and I always see mom's nursing in public at the zoo. Some people cover, some don't.
My MIL was VERY anxious over the baby nursing at first, she thought he wouldn't get enough to eat, but when he rapidly climbed to the 95th percentile on weight and height she decided nursing was best after all. :-) My husband is very supportive and thinks it's cute when our boy climbs onto my lap and tugs on my shirt.
I nursed my babies here in the U.S. for many years. This was 27 years ago. Although legal in America, anyone nursing a baby over 12 months of age can be arrested for indecent exposure according to law. There are people here who are positive about it, and alot of others who are very ignorant about nursing, and are offended by it in public places. Naked people are everywhere here, and I really don't understand the negative actions of people against feeding your baby! What a foolish culture.
I breastfed my daughter for 12 months, and she only quit because I got pregnant again, and my milk started tasting different. We nursed in public whenever and wherever we wanted, regardless of stares or comments. When I have my next baby, I will do the same. It's perfectly natural and what God designed us for. Because the people in America have gotten away from breastfeeding since the 1950s, people just aren't used to seeing breasts except in a sexual context, so to most people now it seems "unnatural" or "inappropriate." I think it is lack of education in our society. Our medical establishment pays great lip service to breastfeeding, but in reality they are shackled by the money and incentives that formula companies give them to push their product. Doctors and nurses are largely uneducated about the function of breasts and the benefits of breastfeeding, and are generally convinced that formula is just as good or better than breast milk. Opinions are changing in the US, but for the most part, the average new mother is unlikely to receive any education or support about breastfeeding, and with current public opinion being mostly against public breastfeeding, the majority of babies in the US are formula-fed by 3 months of age. It is a shame that we live in one of the richest and most technologically advanced countries, and yet remain behind in the categories of breastfeeding, maternal, and infant mortality rates.
State: Austin TX
I have BF all 3 of my girls. When my youngest was born we were out of the hospital and over 200 miles away the night after she was born (it was Christmas). I went to the mall with her 2 days old, she was hungry and needless to say there was not enough people in that mall to stop me from feeding my baby. Only one time it I let someone push me into a bathroom, with my first child, the first time out. I will never back down!!! They want me to feed my child in a bathroom I invite them to eat they lunch in the bathroom with me. They don't like the idea, so I tell them I don't either.
Please don't ever be afraid to feed a baby!!
Im Mexican American. All of my family and my husbands family were against me breastfeeding. It is very uncommon here. The breast is extremely sexualized. Even if you are covered up it is weird for people. My father-in-law wouldn't want to be in the same room with me even though I was under a blanket. So weird since he is from Mexico. In Mexico, the poor women breast feed and covering up varies from town to town. It is encouraged to breast feed in the US but the reality is not, since women go to work just 6 weeks after giving birth. Even stay-at-home moms don't usually breast feed. I am educated so I don't care about uneducated people's attitudes. I breast fed even in public places despite rude comments and staring.
I'm going to start with my favorite. I was nursing my son on a bench outside a discount store. The security guard walked up to me and said "Goodness Ma'am. It's hot out here. Wouldn't you be more comfortable feeding that baby indoors? We've got a nice air-conditioned office inside." I don't know if anyone had complained; frankly I don't care. The officer's offer was welcome and taken.
I'll follow the best with the worst. I was in line, waiting to vote, and my son started making hungry noises. I put a blanket over us and got him latched. The people before and after me in line didn't even seem to notice, but a poll monitor did and approached me and told me I couldn't do "that" in a polling place. She told me I really couldn't vote with a baby in arms anyway and I should just go home. I nursed my son outside, in the Texas heat of 100 degrees, and then I got back in line and I voted.
Dining Out with Nursing Baby:
I had many "looks" but no direct complaints for nursing my baby in public eateries. Texans are big favorites of the "look". Funny... you get the "look" for a noisy baby, and you put the child to breast, and nobody knows what to do... you are now invisible.
I did have one instance where a young (maybe 15 year old) busboy just stood with his back to my booth while I got my youngster feeding after fussing, and then the young man just went about his work. (Chivalry is NOT dead.)
Nursing in Other Public Places in Texas:
Texans like discretion from nursing mothers, but in general, they seem to be in favor of breastfeeding. Mostly, I was ignored when I fed my child. The reactions I did receive fell into the following categories:
1) Nosy Older Women: Lots of advice... when to wean, what to eat, how to supplement... all with general goodwill towards what I was doing
2) Interested Young Women: Did I do natural child birth (no... 15 hours of back labor was enough); does breastfeeding hurt (yes, sometimes, but you don't mind; MANY other questions); is breastfeeding hard (mostly not)
3) Brave (kindly) older men: Would you like some privacy ma'am, I can spread out my jacket
4) Curious Children: (Usually followed by very embarrassed mothers) Is your baby biting you? OR My mom feeds little sister/brother like that. General children's questions about babies.
And Young Men and Exposed Boobies:
Yes, young men (15-21ish) notice exposed breasts and stare at them no matter what the context. They don't ask questions and they generally look away after a few seconds. I cannot speculate on what those young men were thinking, but I can attempt to articulate what my young man said about a woman he saw breastfeeding at the pool:
"Mom... why are we even talking about this? You're all liberal and stuff... yeah, I saw a boob... come on... she was feeding her baby... babies have to eat you know... this is a stupid thing to talk about."
Progress happens. I'm so proud of my son I could burst.
I have 4 boys, all of whom were breastfed. When I had my first, I lived in the Chicago, IL area. I was a new mother and worried about breastfeeding in public, but still fed my baby wherever he was hungry. My 2nd and 3rd were born in Shreveport, LA area, and my fourth was born in East TX. I have only once been asked to leave an area because of breastfeeding, and that was at a Ronald McDonald House by a Childrens Hospital. I was approached a few times and offered to use the nursing rooms, but simply replied "Thank you, we are fine right here" and the issue was dropped.
I have no issues breastfeeding in public, anymore, and when I see a breastfeeding mom, I am sure to flash a smile, and maybe even a "good for you, mom" comment. I really don't care how other people feel about my nursing in public.
I don't use a blanket, but am descrete. I'm only descrete because *I* want to be, not becuase I'm hiding anything from anyone. I fully support every mom who nurses in public, no matter how much is seen.
Mostly, formulafeeding is the "norm" in our area, however breastfeeding is increasing.
I live in the "Bible Belt" and breasts shown for sexual pleasure is mostly frowned upon.
I live in Utah and have breastfed both of my children in public. The response that I get varies depending on my location. Because modesty is a very big deal to a lot of the LDS people here, I have been asked several times to cover up the baby while nursing. Most people here do breastfeed, but it is usually expected that the mother will cover the baby's head and the breast. I usually don't use a cover because my babies hate them. I nurse my children wherever I go, sometimes I get comments of support, and sometimes I am told to cover up (I am not letting it all hang out, but I don't think people here can handle a little bit of exposed skin!). I continue to nurse in public because I think it sends an important message to the women around me, and hope that it changes their view on natural infant feeding.
I live in Provo, Utah. I am the mother of a now 1 year old and am still breastfeeding, and proud of it. From the beginning I made the decision not to formula feed if possible and not to use a bottle, and wanted to establish comfort in breastfeeding in public so that I would have more freedom in how long I would be gone from home with baby. Unfortunately the few times I have breastfed in public, I received uncomfortable stares and rubber-necking. I was even covered. I only breastfeed in a room with the door closed now. I have seen breastfeeding a few times around here in public and am happy when I do. But I can't handle the looks. I wish the general public was more accepting of public breastfeeding.
I know a lot of moms around here and through talking to them all and sharing experiences, I would say that more than half start off breastfeeding but switch to formula before their babies reach 6 months of age.
I live in Logan, Utah, and my husband hates shopping, so I am often in public with our seven-week old newborn. I can't leave her at home because she will not take the bottle. I wear a wrap to carry her and is very good for nursing with her, as I can nurse her and still walk around. I don't worry about discretion, as I am somewhat of a naturist, and so far it hasn't been a problem. I have an attitude that if I can do it, and it's good for me and others, there's no reason not to do it. I feel not only is nursing good for me and baby but for others around us so we can be an example of what's natural. I have received friendly comments only, and feel blessed to be in this community. If I see a stare that might be unfriendly I simply smile and they turn away. Some women have displayed protective behavior toward their male partners when they spot my bare breast; I wish they would realize that a woman with a newborn at her breast is not meant to be a sexual image, and that they would stop supporting the patriarchal sensationalizing of the breast. Their attitude no doubt springs from the popular concept of modesty, significant especially to the dominant religious paradigm in my state.
The state of Utah encourages breastfeeding, as the IHC (Intermountain Health Care) hospital provides a free lactation class and lactation consulting for mothers who birth at the hospital, and the "Baby Your Baby" program for lower income mothers encourages breastfeeding by referring new mothers to La Leche League representatives. Despite this encouragement, I don't think I've seen another mother breastfeed in public, which is another reason why I do: I hope another woman will see me and think, well, if she can do it, maybe I can, too.
Nursing is highly encouraged and supported here. From prenatal doctor visits, lactation consultants provided at the hospitals, to La Leche group meetings... Some women do use formula... but many breastfeed. I've seen lots of other mommas nursing toddlers of all ages as well. Generally, it is supported by most.
I had my first child when I was 23 and living in Virginia. It was very trying for me to breastfeed (very painful) but I stuck to it as long as I could until my daughter was about 9 months old. In the ten years I lived in Virginia, I don't recall ever seeing another mom breastfeed in public. (nor in any of the other states I've lived in: TN, OH, NY, and MS) However, while I was still in the hospital with my daughter, I went to a lactation class for all of the new mothers and they had us practice, all in a big circle, with our newborns. In fact, we had such trouble latching that one of the nurses just reached in, took my breast out of the gown, and manually helped my baby latch. There was no concern for modesty whatsoever. I learned quickly in my first pregnancy that whatever you hold to be dignity will quickly be thrown out the window.
As I said, I continued to breastfeed her after leaving the hospital. Most of the time I'd be strolling her at the mall. If she got hungry, I'd use a store's changing room. A lot of the maternity stores welcome it.
Now I live in Mississippi again; here also I've never seen another mom breastfeed. Now that I have a 3 month old son, I'm once more faced with a hungry baby out in public. If he's hungry, I will absolutely feed him. I've fed him at our public library more times than I can count. Same for restaurants and at my grandparents' house. I'm not flashy about it - I'll use either my nursing cover or a baby blanket but I'm sure it's still obvious what I'm doing. A lot of folks are too involved with themselves to notice - others might and just look away. I can't recall any startled responses. If I'm in conversation with someone and my son is fussy and really needs to eat, I'll simply ask if they mind if I nurse him while we talk. They've never had a problem. When sending newborn pictures to one of my friends, I accidentally sent photos my husband took of the baby nursing. I apologized to her since there were some nipple shots but she just laughed and thought nothing of it. My husband needed some breastfeeding education in that I told him if he wouldn't eat his food in a bathroom stall, then neither should his son. Now he's as big an advocate for public breastfeeding as I am.
I'm proud to say that Governor Haley Barbour passed the law that no mom shall be discriminated against for breastfeeding in public. She may do it whenever, whenever, and show anything necessary to feed her baby. We may be in the Bible Belt, but we still are in a culture that recalls clearly the benefits of the "old-fashioned" ways. Breast is best!
I've been breastfeeding my daughter since she was born. I made the decision to do that because it was best for her, not to mention the savings. Not only that, but I grew up in a family where breastfeeding was normal. I remember two cousins being breastfed and don't remember any bottles or formula.
Now it gets mixed reactions from people. Some people think it's great and totally encourage me to go at least a year. I thank these people who get it.
But others stare when I NIP. I use a cover so what's the big deal? I had a lady stare at me in a restaurant, then continue to stare at the store. Why? She's eating and being quiet. Her daughter and her bf said nothing. I've yet to have anyone say anything to me though. If they do I'll suggest they pay for formula. And the stuff she'd need isn't cheap.
I find that children are really interested in BFing babies. My nephew jumped on the couch and pulled open my cover to see his cousin eating. I told him his mom fed him the same way. He thought it was cool, but since he's a big boy he doesn't eat that way anymore. Children are interested and not phased by the breast. Why can't adults be?
In Virginia it is rare to see women publicly breastfeeding, and it's not often talked about outside of a circle of nursing mothers. Many of us feel that breastfeeding is NEVER appropriate and should be fully abstained from, but in the US (mainly the more liberal states), there is a growing movement to make it an accepted practise in public.
My personal beliefs cause me to dress conservatively (e.g. no shorts except for swimming; must reach the knees and be loose-fitting; no cleavage is allowed to show under any circumstance, and no strapless/tank tops/spaghetti strap shirts; nothing tight, obscene, or low-cut and cannot look like lingerie/underwear.) So therefore breastfeeding would be completely out of the question, too.
There is a more liberal movement, however, to consider.
Well, half of my pregnancy was in CA and the other half in VA. It seemed like in northern California EVERYONE brestfed, while in
southern California it was more sneered at than anything else. It is a less "natural" place.
I moved to Virginia right before the birth and everyone but my healthcare providers was against breastfeeding- or tried it, didnt like it and ditched it within a few weeks. My baby is now ten months old and shes still breastfeeding all the time (with solid food supplemented). I have no intention of stopping any time soon, but my husband's family openly exchange glances when I leave the room to feed her. They also tell me that I'm doing myself a disservice by waiting so long to wean her. They've told me that I'll rot her teeth, that she's probably not getting enough nutrients (she's 75% for height and weight, 90% for head...) and all-around tried as hard as they can to make me stop. They've even got my husband telling me that I should stop at a year- that "it's weird" after that. Well, its not working! I'm discreet about public feedings, and MY family are 150% in support of my "natural" choice!
I wish more American women felt comfortable with it and would stop depriving their infants. If a person CAN'T breastfeed, I'm sorry for them, but if they won't, I think they are forcing their baby to spend a life less healthy- and to me, that is poor parenting from the start.
Washington, at least western Washington, seems very cool about breast-feeding in general. I've seen an awful lot of women breast-feeding in public in the Seattle area particularly, including toddlers. I did most of my eleven months of breast-feeding on the Olympic Peninsula, in Sequim, sometimes on ferries, in cars, in restaurants, in campgrounds, etc. Nobody ever gave me anything but a positive response. I've seen women breast-feeding at the park, on buses, all over. I don't know what it's like in the eastern part of the state, but western Washington is very supportive of breast-feeding, as well as of women and children in general.
I breastfed my first child when I was only 18. I had read The La Leche Leagues book and was fully prepared for any opposition from hospital staff. I also had a representative from the local La Leche League in California to come out and help me with my issues nursing my newborn. It was difficult but I stuck with it and am happy that I was able to nurse my first daugter until she was four years old. I weaned her not herself. I told her that when she turned four she wouldn't be nursing anymore. I started nursing her only once per day before the "cut off" date and the day she turned four she accepted this. I have nursed two more children besides her, but not as long, and have nursed them in public. It doesn't make sense any other way. What are women supposed to do? Go into hiding for years when they need to nurse? I can't recall anyone ever being rude about my nursing and usually I was discreet, just keeping my top covering the breast. I didn't cover the baby though. This is a bit ridiculous to me to cover the whole situation. It makes it more of a public attraction when there is this tone of mystery surrounding it.
When I was 18 nursing I never felt ashamed but as I got older and realized that not every person was okay with public breastfeeding (mostly by news reports and stuff) I started to feel weird sometimes around certain people. But I still nursed all three babies when they were hungry. By the time I had my third one in 2003, fourteen years from the time I had my first one, alot changed regarding public acceptance. I feel that in the USA, atleast where I live, people tend to accept it more now. Even if they don't, a baby has the right to eat when he/she needs to.
State: Vermont (Brattleboro)
Breastfeeding in public is very common here in Brattleboro, both babies and toddlers. During World Breastfeeding Week a reporter came to take a picture at our Nurse-Out: he commented that it is not unusual to see a dozen nursing mothers in a day as he walks around town. I have actually seen mothers apologizing for using bottles! Women are usually nervous at first about nursing in public but tend to become more at ease as they settle in as mothers. I've heard of moms who chose where they were going to nurse out first (often the Brattleboro Food Coop). On the whole there are not bare breasts around, although there are some local swimming holes where you may find people skinny-dipping (the American term for swimming nude). In addition, about fifteen years ago there was a bare-breast parade on a hot day here in town. We do still struggle with the thought of "discretion" when nursing but I would say that the fact we can struggle with the notion means we are working towards breastfeeding being a normal part of the lives of happy, healthy babies and mothers.
I am currently nursing my third daughter. I never hesitate to breastfeed her wherever we are, although if I have to sit in close proximity to someone, I will say, "I need to feed my daughter. Do you mind if I sit here?". Most everyone is very decent about it. I nurse in church, at the store, at the park, anywhere and everywhere. Just the other day I managed to nurse her while I was walking through the grocery store (my five year old pushed the cart for me.) I never see any other nursing moms though. It could be that I just never notice them. Most people don't even realize that I am nursing unless they watch her latch on or they walk up to me and look down at her. I never use a blanket because that just attracts more attention. I have even learned how to nurse in a summer dress and a swimsuit without exposing too much! If you are very nonchalant about it all, no one notices. I have yet to hear a negative comment though I am sure that some people don't approve. Oh well, they do not need to look. If my daughter is hungry, she is going to eat!! And that is that!
I live in the south east and there are many bottlefeeders here. There was one ignorant woman who tried to say breastfeeding in public is insulting to others (at a children's hospital!!) but I was adamant, even calling the employee's manager to complain about her rude comment. They apologized. Most women are supportive. However, I am african-american and I hear many negative comments by other african-american women about breastfeeding.
Ironically my in laws are Irish and on our recent visit to Ireland, we had no problems nursing in public and no negative looks except for my mother in law. She was so biased against breastfeeding that every time the baby visited the breast, she insisted he was not getting enough milk and that I needed to feed him solid food or formula. She was the most negative person we encountered in Ireland.
Sadly, most women in Ireland and US say they couldnt breastfeed or that they fed but only for a few weeks.
I wish more breastfeeding consultants were available.
In the US many women are unfortunately choosing formula over breastfeeding, this decision is often made because of economic demands for women with young chidren to work outside of the home; others simply see breatfeeding as an inconvinience and believe that thier infant can thrive without it; However it is still recomended by healthcare professionals and seen as benefical to the infants health in general.
It Is rare and seen as taboo to breastfeed in public in the US especially unless the breast is completely covered up and them sometimes people will stare or commend about it. I wish that people in this country were more excepting of something that is so natural and not to mention benefical and stop thinking of it is as sexual every time they see a womens breast. I feel that if a child is hungry when in public then it should be fed in public, why make an infant suffer because of taboos. If people have a problem with breastfeeding in public then they need to get over it, the mother's simply doing her job of providing nurishment to the child.
I was, and will be with my next children, a breastfeeding mother. I know for a fact that my son would not take a bottle with or without breast milk in it, becaused I tried. I feel that it is ok to feed your child in public no matter what anyone thinks. For my personal comfert I kept a small baby blanket with me to cover my self and my child while I nursed. However, that was onoly for my comfert. I find nothing wrong with a perfectly natural thing such as breastfeeding in public. If a woman needs to feed her hungry baby, then so be it!
I have lived in Texas, New Mexico, and Virginia and all of my friends claim they tried to breastfeed, but that their baby didn't latch on and they quit after a couple of weeks. I don't believe that at all--only a very very small percentage of women can't breastfeed! The ugly truth here in America is that a lot of women treat their babies are merely accessories. They don't truly want to bond with them, they just want to say they have X number of kids and think they are great people because of it. Meanwhile, they are giving them bottles, feeding them cereal at 4 weeks, putting them in cribs, expecting the schools to teach them everything, and kicking them out when they turn 18. They never really bond with their kids and the big mistake starts with bottle-feeding. I breastfed my son until he was 20 months old and everyone (except for my mom) thought I was nuts. If any of them had taken child psychology would have known it wasn't nuts, it was necessary. Everytime I go somewhere and I see a breastfeeding mom, it brings a smile to my face and tears to my eyes, because it seems to be a dying practice here in the US.
When I had my baby, I had only about 15 mins of education from the hospital's lacation consulant on how to have my baby latch on. Because of this, I never successfully "breastfed", but I didn't give up. I am proud to say I have been expressing my breastmilk for 11 months now. I express and put it in bottles and keep a large stock for my baby. It takes great commitment to do this, sometimes I pump 6 times a day to keep up with her demands. So even though I couldn't "breastfeed" the real way, my baby still gets all the benefits of breastmilk. I get alot of comments at work such as "you are STILL doing that?" I hate it! A baby needs breastmilk for up to 2 years and beyond! Too many people just breastfeed for 6 weeks and then stop. I wish more people were educated on it.
I breastfed my son for 18 months until he self-weaned - otherwise, we'd still be nursing (He is now 28 months). I am now nursing my 3 month old little girl. While nursing my son, It took me a long time to feel comfortable nursing in public or in front of family and friends but I did it nonetheless. Now I have become more liberated and nurse whenever and wherever I am. I always carry a blanket to cover up, but am not shy if I must temporarily "flash" paserbys while getting her to latch on before covering up.
I have never had anyone say anything nasty to me, but have seen some dirty looks. For the most part, people smile and even share their own breastfeeding stories with me - both men and women.
I now feel a bit more encouraged about nursing in public because I feel like I'm setting an example for other women who may want to but are shy. Also I believe that women who are wary of doing so will wean their children sooner because they feel "restricted" because of their child's needs.
I will do what is best for my baby regardless of what other people think or feel. If she's hungry, she will eat!
I am happy to have come across your website, and am curious to see how people are going to react when I begin breastfeeding my baby- I am pregnant and the baby is due next year- hopefully I do not come across any problems in my country regarding breastfeeding in public-
although I can honestly say that I really haven't ran across anyone breastfeeding their child that I can recall and I am 27 years old- Definitely not the norm in the sense that it is rare to come across-
I am all for breastfeeding. I have four children and my last child nursed until he was 14 months old. I nursed in public with my breast coverd where ever my child needed to. I never received any negative comments when in public--most people could not tell that I was nursing. My husband was astoonished when I told him I had to nurse our child in the mall.
I wish people would see breastfeeding as a natural part of life. It is what God intended when He made us--ALL mammals nurse their young. Why should we be different?
My son will be 25 this fall. I nursed him for eight months, and I never in that time worried about what others thought while I did. I nursed him at home, in stores, in parks and any other location we happened to be in. If someone was disturbed about it, I couldn't care less. I suppose one reason to explain my attitude was my nursing education. The week my son weaned himself was bittersweet. I still remember how special it felt to nurse him.
I think breastfeeding is the best way to go. I don't have children of my own, but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand that natural is usually better.
I'm a married woman with a husband who has wandering eyes. I'm very insecure and wish that I just didn't care about it anymore, but I do. I'm only human. We live in a "sexed up" society that uses women's breasts as objects of pleasure, so I feel very offended... even angry when I see them (although I agree that it shouldn't be that way).
Today, my husband and I were at the laundromat. I was standing, folding some clothes. A woman sat down behind me and my husband moved in a position where he was facing her (whether or not that was on purpose, I don't know). When I turned around to see what he was glancing at, I was shocked. My husband knows how I feel about the human body. I believe in modesty around others, even if you aren't doing anything wrong. I just couldn't understand why this lady would sit almost directly in front of my husband and pull out her breast (without any kind of covering) and why my husband, KNOWING HOW I FEEL ABOUT IT, didn't re-position himself or take his leave. Later (at home) I ended up crying over the whole thing, not because I felt it was wrong for her to breastfeed in public, but because of my insecurities, my husband's lack of sensitivity, and the breastfeeding mother's seeming inconsideration for others.
I wish I didn't feel this way, but no matter how natural breastfeeding is, it doesn't change the fact that we're living in a society that sexualizes EVERYTHING. And so, I really do appreciate seeing breastfeeding mothers being modest and discreet and showing consideration for others' feelings while still doing what is best for their children.
I believe breastfeeding is as natural a thing as breathing air. I wish people here in the USA would get over all the typical stereotypes about this issue and look at it for what it really is. It is more healthy to breastfeed than to bottle feed a child and as a father of four I wouldn't have wanted my children to be bottle fed even if the people in society say "it's the politically correct way". The people here in the states who look at it as "sexual" really need to expand their views and lose the tunnel vision. Good luck with your site !
It's an interesting time we live in. I really can't believe we as a society have allowed women's breasts to become so sexualized that we actually endanger the health and well being of our children by not breastfeeding. Breast milk is the perfect food. The National Association of Pediatrics recommends that women breast feed for up 2 years. I think the only way this strange sexual stigma about breasts will end is if women try to break themselves free of it. We need to start seeing breast feeding as a gift not as something dirty. We are sexualized because we allow ourselves to be seen this way. Start breastfeeding in public! It might be the hardest thing we have ever done but imagine the change it could bring if women started seeing their bodies differently. We were given the gift of motherhood for a reason and should cherish it and nurture it with all our heart and mind. We hold the future in our hands. Men will eventually follow our lead!
Lately there has been a rash of newspaper articles and editorials against nursing in public. It has gotten so bad that some authors of these articles and letters have compared nursing a baby to passing gas, vomiting, urinating, a fat man in a Speedo, and most baffling of all, a python devouring a calf. I think this has an awful effect on the public by making them continue to believe breastfeeding is a sexual type of activity that should only be conducted in private. I wish more moms would brave the hostile waters here in the US and get out there and nurse their babies any way and anywhere they need to. We need to bring attitudes back to normal, so that breastfeeding is once again seen as the common everyday act of parenting that it is. I was getting shy myself about nursing my 22 month old in public but I have been so outraged by the negativity that I now nurse anyplace, anytime once again. I am hoping to find ways to encourage nursing moms to disregard the disapproval and start educating our backwards culture that breasts are not genitals and they are made for something more important than wet tshirt contests.
Congratulations, I think this is a very interesting site to educate women and men. I am from Mexico and despite the Influence of the U.S. culture (wich is a lot) I think we have a good concept of breasts in general. Many women breastfeed their children in public and it is just natural, although I must admit that a couple of decades ago it used to be more normal. Topless is also common in the popular beaches, specially where we get European tourists.
At the end I think it's all about the context, I mean, breasts are part of the beautiful women body, they are not sexual "per se" but they can be enjoyable in a sexual context by women and their partners just as they can be a wonderful source of comfort and nutrients for a baby in a different context. Breasts are great and beautiful :) and women should be always proud of their own as well as the rest of their body.
In Oaxaca (a southern Mexican state) almost everyone breastfeeds. Oaxaca has a high level of poverty and most people are indigenous. It is quite normal to see mothers walking around in public breastfeeding. Many babies are fed well into toddlerhood (2 to 5 years). Formula and clean water are often hard to come by and the only formula feeder I know in Oaxaca was given a hard time about it.
[Even though breastfeeding in public places is seen as something natural or normal here, and additionally the federal law grants a working mother a half-hour of the starting and ending of her work time so she can breastfeed her child, it is difficult to do that. The employers still resist granting that right, because they see it as lost time, even when they themselves are women... Just as we should fight for a humanized pregnancy and birth in the public health services, so we should find alternatives for a humanized breastfeeding also.]
Pese a que en mi pais se ve como algo natural o normal el amamantar al bebe en lugares publicos y de que ademas existe un articulo en la ley federal del trabajo en el que se le otroga a la madre trabajadora media hora de su hora de entrada y de su hora de salida para que pueda amamantar a su hijo, es dificil que esto se pueda hacer, los patrones aun se resisten a otorgar este derecho, pues lo ven como un tiempo perdido, incluso cuando estos son mujeres... Asi como deberiamos pelear por un embarazo y parto humanizado en los servicios de salud publicos, tambien deberiamos de buscar alternativas para una lactancia humanizada tambien.
State: Tijuana, Baja California
I lived in Tijuana, Mexico from 2004 to 2006 and most women did not breastfeed. Breastfeeding was for the extremely poor, the radical left in the middle class, or the very well-educated. The majority of the middle class and the wealthy class did not breastfeed. As a result, breastfeeding my children in public in Mexico was uncomfortable as the men, who were not normally accustomed to seeing breastfeeding, would stare. I cannot comment on southern Mexico.
Nursing in public in European countries
Nursing in public in Asia, Africa, Australia, South America
Breastfeeding in public in USA - law, being discrete, visitor comments
What about your country or a country you have visited?
You can use the following questions or just tell freely about nursing in public in the country in question.
- are women in general breastfeeding a lot or using formula
- is it common to see women breastfeed in public places
- how do women feel towards breastfeeding in public
- how do other people feel about women who breastfeed in public
- what are attitudes towards bare breasts in other situations like topless beaches etc.