Not a Fan of Nursing In Public? Suck on This.

Okay.

I have thought long and hard about this blog post. Most of the time, when I’m trying to introduce an idea to someone who might not be ready for it yet, I try to do it gently.  I acknowledge feelings, express empathy, and do as much as I can to relate directly to my audience.

This is not one of those times.  Sometimes, even as a person who strives to be gentle with the world, there are times when you just want to reach out and punch someone in the chotch.

Somehow, ‘Merica missed the memo that breastfeeding under any circumstances is normal, natural, healthy for both mom and baby, and should never be shamed or hidden. There are several angles I could take here, but like I’ve said in previous posts, nobody’s got time for a novella.  I’m sure I’ll cover topics like normal-term (read: toddler) nursing and the medical lie that is “low-milk supply” in later posts. But today, we’re going to talk about Nursing In Public, otherwise appropriately known as NIP.

Let me be very clear. There is nothing wrong with nursing in public. If I were going to start at the very beginning, I would have to acknowledge that there are some people out there who believe that even if a woman hides under a blanket the size of a circus tent, she still isn’t covered enough and should either go home or stick a bottle in the baby’s mouth. But I’m not starting at the very beginning. And those people don’t deserve the acknowledgement I’ve given them thus far, so we’ll move on to the next batch of idiots.

I’d like to insert a reminder here which is less of a side-note, and more like the point of this post. In this country, you do not have the right to not be offended. Being offended is a fancy way of saying that you can’t handle your own feelings. Nowhere in the world are you guaranteed a Personal Emotions Liason who will make sure you don’t have to look at something which you consider unpleasant. If you are the one who is offended, then you are also the one who is responsible for becoming un-offended. Nobody is going to babysit your feelings in that regard.BreastfeedingCartoon

I have heard the argument a hundred times: “There is nothing wrong with breastfeeding, but you should at least have the consideration enough for others to cover yourself.” (This argument has come in many forms. I am giving entirely too much credit to most who use it, considering their version goes alot more like “Nobody wants to see you flaunt your tits on display for the whole world! Have some decency! Cover that shit up!”)

But you get the point. Somehow people are all for breastfeeding until a woman sits down next to them in a coffee shop with a hungry baby. Then she faces the uncomfortable heat of their judgemental gaze as they sip their latte, fuming over the six square inches of flesh showing above her baby’s head. Women are told all the time that they should cover up to save the poor feelings of those who might accidentally burn their retinas by catching the glimpse a nipple, or god forbid a six-year-old might walk by and see a baby (gasp!) drinking milk from a breast (the horror!).  I’ve actually had a woman I know, a woman I’m close friends with, throw a blanket over my son’s head in my own house as she nearly broke her neck stampeding out the door with her three-year-old.

“I don’t want him to see that!”

Seriously? What are you going to say when he gets older and asks you what boobs are for?  Will you wink and say, “Those are for your dad, kid.”  The funny thing is, I don’t see any of these people shielding their kids’ eyes from the magazine rack at the grocery store. They sit next to their kids on the couch while Beyonce’s undercarriage is broadcast on network television, and don’t bat an eyelash. Apparently, women are allowed to show as much skin as they want as long as they’re doing it in a sexual context. But something as natural as breastfeeding is downright offensive.

Of course, let’s not forget the uber-intelligent peanut gallery who’s about to say, “Well, taking a dump is natural, but you don’t see me popping a squat on the sidewalk, do you?”

Well, no.  You see, there are a couple of reasons that the law says you can’t defecate in public.  For starters, human excrement is a public health concern.  With all that bacteria and whatnot, it’s not exactly the cleanest bodily substance.  (Breastmilk, on the other hand, kills cancer.) Furthermore, you generally can’t eliminate waste without exposing your genital area, and that’s also not okay.  imagesCA224S21And I have news for you:  Boobs are not genitals.  They’re not.  This might be news, but genitals are the outer parts of your reproductive organs.  That means penis, testicles, clitoris and labia.  Just because adults enjoy letting breasts take a starring role in their love lives doesn’t mean they fall under the same category as genitalia.  I don’t know about you guys, but I use way more of my body in the bedroom that just my boobs.  I think its fair to say that most of us use our hands to touch each other, our mouths to kiss each other (and don’t forget the hand jobs and oral sex, too!)  But you don’t see restaurant managers approaching regular Joe’s in the middle of dinner rush to ask them to put their gloves back on or take it to the bathroom to keep from offending other patrons.

Oh, right.  The damn bathroom.  The most popular place to banish she-who-dares-to-nurse-in-public.  Are you kidding me?  I have a hell of a lot more respect for my son than to ask him to eat in the same place where everyone is peeing and pooping and flapping their jaws on their cellphones and running that loud-ass hand dryer.  That’s disgusting, not to mention distracting to a 16-month-old who wants to investigate every toilet flush he hears within a 2 mile radius.  If we’re both in a restaurant, and my kid gets hungry, he’s eating in the same room as everyone else.

Cue the complainers: “At least be decent enough to be discreet and use a cover!”

There are two problems with your argument (besides the fact that you probably can’t spell ‘discreet’).  First, it’s none of your business to ask someone to modify the way they do something simply because you don’t want to look at it.  It’s one of the reasons we still have to sit next to dudes with sweat-stains on airplanes and people who chew with their mouth open on the subway.  It’s why nobody with camel-toe gets a ticket and the Aryan Brotherhood is still allowed to breed.  Even the world’s biggest dickheads understand that you don’t get to ask interracial couples to sit in the back or tell gay couples to stop holding hands.  There are morons on every corner who will come up with something they don’t want to look at.  If we had to sit down to babysit all of them, there would be no more society left as we’d all be stuck in the bathrooms eating our lunch.  So if your only argument is that I’m supposed to wear a cover for your convenience, pardon me, but you can suck it.

The second problem with the whole “wear a cover” argument is this:  You want me to be discreet.  And you want me to wear a cover.  You mean like this?

Huge-Breastfeeding-Cover

You have got to be kidding, right?  If you think something like that and the word “discreet” go anywhere near each other in a sentence, then I should have been doing this blog post using stick figure pictures the whole time.  Sure!  My baby needs to nurse.  Let’s get out my cover and 1.  See if baby will agree to nurse in the heat-chamber I’ve created without screaming bloody murder, and 2. Make sure no one can tell what I’m doing.  Discreet, for the win!!!

I bet somewhere around a bazillion dollars that if the average person walked into a restaurant, and you didn’t tell them a breastfeeding mother was there, they would never know.  Wanna know why?  Because breastfed babies are quiet when they’re nursing.  Their mothers have had practice and can slip a nipple into their mouths in 2 seconds flat without anyone being the wiser.  I once talked to my friend’s husband about breastfeeding for 15 minutes while nursing before he asked me if I was going to need somewhere to nurse the baby soon.

I have spent the better part of my time since I got pregnant supporting moms who have been harrassed, embarrased, lectured, and castigated when they were found doing nothing more than feeding their baby in a public place.  I have laid educational smackdowns on internet trolls, high-fived women I don’t even know in the middle of coffee shops, and helped dozens of women become more confident at breastfeeding their children when and where they want to.  I have personally waged war on an entire city government for discriminating against a woman and her child, and have done so effectively enough that the city published an apology within 24 hours of the incident.  I have done my homework. I know my rights, and more importantly, I know my son’s rights.  I am not fucking around.

So. In closing, to anyone out there who is still of the opinion that breastfeeding moms should cover it up, I want to leave you with a warning.  My son is 16 months old. He is in the 90th percentile for both height and weight and only naps once a day for like 45 minutes, tops.  He is a tank, and the only speed he has is hyperspeed.

And he’s really hungry.

 

Are you nervous about NIP?  My amazing friend Abby (The Badass Breastfeeder) has a free E-course that will be delivered directly to your email.  Sign up here.

 

456 responses to “Not a Fan of Nursing In Public? Suck on This.

  1. I think I love you. This is one of the best things on the internet. My state has pretty shitty breastfeeding laws- I’m surprised some asshole hasn’t tried to pull crap with me yet….

  2. This is so fabulous, and I especially love the part about your friend’s hubby not even knowing you were nursing. I have frequently (I’m a postpartum doula) sat across from moms who were nursing and if I didn’t KNOW they were doing it, I’d have had no idea.

  3. Amen!! This is really inspiring!! I am proud to breastfeed my son whether in public or at home!!

  4. I don’t normally comment on things I read, but I absolutely love this. I literally couldn’t have said it better myself, you covered EVERYTHING. Thank you so much for your frank comments!

  5. You are amazing and I am sharing this with everyone I know! Every “offended” women should read this! ANd may I suggest you post a section about women trying to tell fellow mothers when they should stop nursing because that really drives me nuts too! By the way, hands down, best 5 minutes I’ve spent reading a story EVER!

  6. This is the best thing I have read! Exactly how I feel on the subject!! You are now one of my new heros, wish you lived where I do I was fired from my job for my pumping breaks and cannot find anyone to help me go after them! The world needs more people like you for sure!

  7. You are an inspiring woman! I am in agreement with you 100%, even if I am not a mother. Keep up the amazing work.

  8. If I may, this is FUCKING AWESOME. Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. I nursed my son pretty much everywhere, including in the middle of a garden center, at a very visible table at a hipster brunch place, on a bench in front of a stupidly chichi home decor shop, & on my own front porch in front of the cable guy. Why? Because my boy was hungry. (Or miserable – it was a rough first year…) I refuse to let other people’s hangups about women’s bodies keep my kid from eating when he needs to.

  9. Love it. I have, and will continue to, nurse my son (now 19 months old) anywhere and everywhere he needs. Screw what anyone else thinks.

  10. Thank you for writing this! Great blog post. I love nursing my babies anywhere they are hungry and I don’t care if its in the car or a busy restaurant…

  11. I have to tell you, after being stationed in Europe with my first kid, I breastfed everywhere and everyone there was sooo supportive. Public included. After having my second and returning to “home” 😦 I had never felt so gazed upon and as though I should feel ashamed for something I did in the middle of the Notre Dam, in the Lourve, in ancient castles, outside marketplace restaurants!! I always use a cover and even my own sister in a restaurant, in front of friends who had been in Europe stationed there too, told me to feed my baby in the bathroom. Here was my resolution: “Grab your plate and come sit on the toilet next to me and eat your food. I will only feed him in there if you get served and eat in there too! Sound yummy? no, it’s f’in disgusting and this is your nephew! You should feel ashamed!” Later she apologized, but for some reason, our society has allowed this type of rationale and I don’t know why. For some reason, only the US thinks bottle feeding is better. The rest of the world understands and accepts the human body for the miraculous things it does. When are we gonna advance so after being stationed some where, I don’t return to my “home” and want to flee faster back the other direction. I have never felt more like an outsider than until returning here and that! is a DAMN shame! Thank you for this article!!

    • When are we gonna advance so after being stationed some where, I don’t return to my “home” and want to flee faster back the other direction. I have never felt more like an outsider than until returning here and that! is a DAMN shame!”
      Religious zealots are turning us back into the dark ages. We need to get rid of religion and these types of problems will cease!

      • Excuse me, but I’m extremely religious and I’m completely pro-NIP and a multitude of other “liberal” ideas. Religion has nothing to do with it, thanks. You can, in fact, be decent and follow an organized religion. I’m just sorry people like you can’t get that not all of us are bigoted assholes.

      • Umm, troll? Where does Religion play into this at all? Wow…that was out of left field.

  12. I understand where you are coming from. But I feel the only premise of your article should be to tell those people who tell you to cover up “shut up”. However, you’re also condemning those who are just against public breast feeding. There are several who are against it yet wouldn’t say anything, because they know you have the right. And how do you go about explaining why certain people feel so opposed to it? Are those people immature? No, not at all. Are they ignorant? No. Do they have a different view? Yes. And there is nothing wrong with they way they are disturbed with public breast feeding.

    The same way people don’t enjoy PDA. They aren’t going to yell “get a room!”, because they’re adults, and there is just something about the way they feel towards PDA.

    So, I applaud your passion, but it’s okay, calm down. And just be respectful when at times you definitely can. Ask people if they mind. If they are rude about it, go ahead, whip it out… At least you asked and that’s more than you’re required.

    I just think we should all just be a little more mature with how we handle each other. Just because you have the right to breast feed in public doesn’t make you better than the one who doesn’t appreciate public breast feeding.

    To each his own, carry on.

    • Yes it does make you better. Because you’re providing life and nourishment to another human being. The offended person’s “opinion” is buried in insecurities, unhealthy public perception, and/or fallacious reasoning. Therefore, they should look inward to why they have such an unreasonable “opinion” and FIX IT.

    • However, when the vast majority of people are rude, crude, disrespectful, etc. toward a woman breastfeeding in public, she often has one of two reactions. 1. Take the abuse and go nurse in the bathroom or use a tent to cover up. 2. Say no. Because these two options are so distinctly passive and agressive, society has taught women that in order to protect their right to breastfeed in public they must be agressive about it. To be passive means to be “out of sight, out of mind” and everyone can just skirt the issue instead of facing it like reasonable adults.

    • See, though, the thing is that there IS something wrong with being “disturbed” about breastfeeding. That’s kind of the whole point.

      Encouraging us to “ask people if they mind” is counterproductive. So if they, in their ignorance, (yes, I’m calling it what it is) answer that they do in fact mind, then my baby is supposed to not eat or eat in the bathroom. Really? It’s about education and furthering the understand that the way my baby eats is just as normal as the way you do. And you didn’t stop to ask me if I minded before digging into your meal, now did you?

      • In the few instances I felt inclined to mention what I’m about to do (breast feed), I didn’t ask. I simply said, “I’m going to breastfeed my baby, so if you are uncomfortable, I’m giving you fair warning.” And the times that I’ve said this, there was ONE situation where one guy continued sitting near me while the other quietly removed himself without a stare, a dirty look, or a word muttered. I think asking someone if it’s ok is giving the chance of them having more reason to raise a stink IF you sit down and do it anyways. Like, why even ask if you have your mind made up.

        I’m not into the whole nurse-ins and public picketing on the topic, but I will not ask for permission. By law I’m entitled to breast feed and if I don’t need their permission, then I don’t need the person sitting next to me to give me the “ok” to do so. Of course people break laws all the time, but doesn’t mean I can’t at least take advantage of the one thing I have the most control over.

        I also feel asserting yourself in a manner that is both respectful AND strong is more helpful than seeming insecure and scared. It opens the door to ridicule. I’ve personally never been in a negative situation while breastfeeding. My daughter is almost a year and a half. I consider it a blessing because I tend to speak without thinking and I’d be “THAT Mom”. I don’t want a label. I just want to feed my child. Seriously. If there was more acceptance, there’d be less lactivists. But then again, what came first? The chicken or the egg? I would believe though, that the un-lactivist came first which then in turn brought about all this down-your-throat mess. Some get more pissed than others and really get defensive. Especially if the situation was devastating for the Mom.

    • People “who are just against public breast feeding” really need a head check. What about the act of feeding a child, when it’s hungry, the way nature indented can anyone “be against”? Seriously, take politics out of it and look at the core of what is occurring – no one can say there is anything wrong there. So, those “who are just against public breast feeding” need to look deepr and realize THEY have the issue, THEY have the problem and there is something wrong with THEM

  13. I ABSOLUTELY love this article! Rock on, Mama! I will nurse my beautiful healthy 17 month old whenever and wherever I feel I need to. Makes me happy when other Mamas feel the same way! I am always discreet, but the fact remains, when you are LEERING over my shoulder because you think it’s inappropriate that I might accidentally show a nip and you are just waiting to be offended by it, you are probably going to get a show.

  14. Brilliant! Well said. Thank you.
    I will replay your words in my head and smile the next time I get a nasty look for my 3 year old cuddled up to me in public.

  15. Wow. A-fucking-men.

    This is the best, and most simple way to put it, without stumbling over facts and everything.

    Thanks so much!

  16. You know this is something that really worries me. I don’t have children yet but I want to, and I want to breastfeed if I can. But to be honest I’m really put off, I don’t want people having a go at me for nursing in public, and I don’t want to be stuck at home…I don’t know how I can get the confidence in me not to worry about what other people think :/

    • Once your baby is in your arms, you’ll have the confidence. Actually, that’s a lie. The confidence comes at the first inconvenience/confrontation for some (like me). I tried to use a cover, and my poor son hated it (we live in Florida). So I had to buck up and just care for him and where he needed it. Once I resolved that he was the only person who mattered, I graduated into full “mommyhood”. Even if someone DOESNT breastfeed, it’s an issue that will come up eventually. Eventually you’ll have to make the choice between pleasing the general public or tending to your child properly.

    • Trust me, Fia, when the baby gets here, you’ll be a totally different person. It won’t matter if someone has a go at you. It just won’t. And you are allowed to use a cover if it makes YOU feel more comfortable. The point of this post was to tell women that they don’t have to cover just to please others. I have used a cover myself at times (not in a long time) and actually using one helped me to overcome the nerves that came with NIP so that I was able to cast it off later, proudly. You will too!

    • I agree with the other two mamas. See if you can invest in a Ring Sling. This really helped out with me in that awkward stage of taking a bit to latch my daughter. Pretty soon it wasn’t necessary. Double layers so you can pull one shirt up and leave the other down to cover your torso. Literally NO skin is showing.

    • The truth is MOST people won’t say a word. There are a few people who might say something nasty, but I never encountered them while I was actually nursing. I did get one or two dirty looks while nursing (covered I might add) in a mall once, but that’s about it. Nobody every asked me to remove myself, covered or uncovered.

    • I’ve been NIP for almost 16 months and have never had a bad experience. NOT ONE! So don’t worry. You hear a lot of negative experiences because it is a sensitive subject and a fear of new mothers. People can be rude and insensitive, as if it was intimidating enough (breastfeeding). It made me scared in the early days. I was always ready to put up a fight, fortunately I’ve never had to, and I don’t plan on it either. So please, please don’t worry about other people, don’t be afraid of something that may never happen- bf that baby!!

  17. starting tommorow, i am going to start urinating and defecating in public, its natural, and part of a healthy mind and spirit? so why shouldnt i do in public?

    • Sean, obviously you’re unable to read a whole post in one sitting. Come back tomorrow and try again, friend!

      • Yes, Sean did not read. That aside, it is still a good point. Civilized society has banned things that are considered gross. Fix the analogy. It’s not about bacteria and health risks. If someone brought a bucket to public place and crapped in it and then took the bucket away…no harm done. It’s the same as breast feeding in public at that point. Both are natural bodily functions that didn’t harm anyone. However, people are allowed to find either of those acts disgusting. So quit b-tching about this topic. I see it come up all the time. I don’t mind breastfeeding in public and some people do. Lets all respond to a blog about it, because it’s so important.

      • @alpha, I didn’t come up with that analogy. It’s one of the popular ones used by the anti-NIP crowd. And you might not believe this, but even if someone brought a bucket to poop in, they’d still get arrested. And this may also come as news, but society doesn’t just outlaw things because people find them gross. Otherwise the cops would hand out citations for chewing with your mouth open and having bad acne. And I agree with your other post. People are allowed to have opinions. Which is why you’ll find nowhere in my post a request that anyone change their opinion of NIP. If that cross had a history of letting me go on my merry nursing way without subjecting me to lectures, dirty looks, and accusations of impropriety, there would be nothing to write about. If they’d keep their unfortunate opinion to themselves, there wouldn’t be an uproar at all. Which is precisely the point. I don’t get to tell them to stop thinking what they’re thinking. And they don’t get to tell me to stop what I’m doing to compensate for their problem either.

      • @alpha,

        It is NOT a good point. And “crapping in a bucket” is an adult decision that should be an adults responsibility to go to ALL publicly provided restrooms to keep EVERYTHING sanitary.

        A better analogy would be (considering it’s BABIES eating public) do we just let BABIES crap in public? Why yes we do. Because a baby has no perception of what people want out of them. They just know they’re hungry. Or need to poop.

  18. Thank you thank you thank you. You are spot on! I’m breastfeeding my 3rd child (9 mo old) and I can relate to all of this!!

  19. Love it! And just to lay out an awesome pro breastfeeding moment I had the other day…. an elderly man came up to me while breastfeeding my son at church and said “what you are doing is the most beautiful thing”. Way to go dude, way to be mature, supportive, and just awesome, there should be more men (and women) like you.

    • That’s because the era in which he grew up had the same attitude about nursing that he does, and they miss seeing it like they used to. Women used to breastfeed anywhere, anytime. Formula wasn’t even invented until the 1950s, and then came the sexual revolution which tried to assign breasts to the “sex-only” category. I LOVE nursing around older people. They give us the kudos we deserve.

  20. I LOVE this blog. You have articulated very well exactly what I feel about this subject. Thank you!!

  21. Amazing way of putting it. My son (6 months) spends most of his time on nursing as did my now 6 year old daughter whether at home or out.

  22. Diagree! I think a woman can easily throw a nursing cover on in public. Breast milk is absolutely the best food for for the baby, but I don’t think a woman needs to expose herself in public. Not to mention, breast milk is a hazardous material through which nurses will not handle without gloves. If a nurse spills milk on themselves they have to fill out an incident report because he/she can contract diseases through a person’s bodily fluids such as breast milk. I don’t know where that mother has been and I don’t know what diseases she has, so I don’t want to sit down next to her at a restaurant and watch her whip her breast out. It’s distracting, it’s unappetizing, and it’s unsanitary. DO whatever you want in your own home, but please cover up in public.

    • @Mom who disagrees…. so are you concerned about being exposed to toxic chemicals in breastmilk? If so, do you actually think a thin little blanket covering someone is going to protect you from that? As an aside, breastmilk is NOT actually considered a hazardous material. Nurses wear gloves for everything, hon. It doesn’t mean they’re going to die from whatever they’re doing. The gloves are always there as a matter of protocol. But I would be willing to read ANYTHING you can find me that says otherwise (I’m talking about actual scientific evidence in actual scientific articles.) If you find the sight of a breast to be “distracting, unappetizing, and unsanitary” then I’m sorry for whatever upbringing raised you to feel that way about those parts of your body. I wish you felt differently. Your body can do amazing things, and you should be proud of that, and never feel like you’re doing something wrong just because someone else whines about it. You’ll get there, friend.

    • How exactly is it unsanitary? I’m curious? Have you ever seen a mother breastfeeding in public spray? I’m sure it is happened. But people have also spit in public while speaking, or perspirated in public. Both of which are bodily fluids and I don’t see you asking people to stop speaking or carry around an air conditioner to make sure there are perfectly cool conditions to keep them from sweating.

      It is not easy to throw on a nursing cover. For some it helps them feel more comfortable meeting their babies needs, and that’s great for them. But it is a PAIN IN THE ASS. Take it from someone with a nursing toddler who lives in the Florida heat and gave birth in July. My son NEVER EVER tolerated a cover. He was high needs, heat-sensitive, and has never once accepted a bottle. It’s a good thing that I’m not afraid of the uneducated opinion of others, because he would have starved.

    • My daughter refuses to be covered. Do you call over store managers and complain about the content of the magazines while in the check out line? Those are distracting…and some of the sexkitten women on TV…boy, you must change the channel fast at home…or you are just a hypocrite. OH, and um, breastmilk…it fights cancer…so maybe you should educate yourself on the topic at hand…go to Kellymom.com!!!!

  23. That was funny. And I’m not nursing anyone anymore, but when my youngest was just maybe 6 months old I was nursing him in a quiet hallway on a bench in a mall… a young boy came up to us (maybe 10-12 years old) – I was sitting and talking with a friend at the time – and he said, “Awwww… cute baby!” He stroked my son’s forehead and then said, “Whose is it?” I replied, “Mine. Actually, he’s eating right now or I’d let you see more of him.” The boy suddenly got awkward and giggled and said, “Oh wow… oops! Sorry! I didn’t realize he was eating. I’m so sorry *blush*.”

  24. I loved nursing.. but i always covered it up.. even in my home.. not because it would offend anyone.. but because my kids liked the warmth, the closeness, and i could peek in on them and just enjoy the moment.. when i had my first, my mom and i had gone to a mall and she asked me if i would feel more comfortable in the bathroom.. not because she didnt want me to do it in public, but because of the looks i was getting.. i said no, i wont eat in the bathroom, why would i make my son?? i laid one clothe on the table, and another over him and he went to town.. man did i get some looks that day.. i just smile sweetly and say hi 🙂 lol.. makes them think twice about saying anything 🙂

  25. I admire and applaud all mothers who feed their babies whenever and wherever they need it. Back in the “hippy era”‘ we could do so without harrassment. I don’ know what has happened to our society, people used to be more polite.

    • I love your comment so much! Specifically because another thing I hear from anti-NIPpers is that I should cover because “back in the old days” women were “decent” about it and covered up WHICH COULD NOT BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH. You can find hundreds of pictures online of women decades ago, and even a hundred years ago, in the middle of restaurants, in the middle of the street even, just nursing away and no one bats an eyelash. Because back then, society hadn’t yet had a chance to establish the sight of a breast as a purely sexual thing, so there was no “offense.” Thanks for being here!

  26. I find it amusing that you are so offended by people who are offended by nursing in public. They can have their opinion the same as you have yours. I agree with your post for the most part, but find it annoying that so many women freak out about supposedly being told to cover up. You can use a really lightweight and open cover that isn’t as ridiculous as the one you show in the photo. So, cover up or don’t cover-up. If you don’t and someone complains, guess what…who cares?

    • It’s not a who cares situation. Security guards are being called when women NIP at malls. Restaurant staff are asking nursing moms to go to a restroom because someone at another table is offended. I show less boob nursing than most women show in their fashionable low cut tops, yet I’m the being asked to cover or sit in a restroom. I don’t want to see someone else’s nipples through their sheer top but I don’t have the right to tell them to put more clothes on so why do they have the right to ask me to cover up?

    • I might say that your attitute offends me So you should not post an opinion? Now that makes about as much sense as you do.

  27. Great article and also love the gay couples holding hands thing thrown in there (and yay for not throwing interracial couples, like my husband and I, towards the back of the bus) and all in all, yay for the article. I ran to the car to nurse my first…not because of fear of offending someone or someone saying something to me, but because I am uncomfortable being stared at and am not a pro about sticking a boob in my kids’ mouth and being unable to tell what I’m doing. For me, it’s a confidence thing…if someone took issue with me feeding my son in a public setting (if I were to ever succeed in being discreet, that is) I’d tell them to stuff it, but I’ve always disliked being stared at and do whatever I can to NOT draw attention to myself if I can. Bravo to those who can…I actually do stare at those who are able to do it only because I stand there wondering where that kind of confidence comes from!

    • @Denise, I support any woman nursing anywhere, anytime. That includes women who need to use a cover for their own comfort. Good for you! You rock!

  28. This is THE best article I have ever read about nursing in public. Thank you for writing exactly how BF moms feel. I will be sharing this article with my other mommy friends!

  29. I feel sorry for the people who can’t grasp the humor in this post and take it 100% seriously! It’s an expression of the frustrations we all feel with every eye roll- or weird look or comment. I’ve been pretty lucky that I haven’t ran into any jerks yet- but I did have that initial insecurity at first- but now that I’ve been feeding her for five months the boobs are more like tools- functional and they keep baby happy – and content! I was not going to use a cover at church but the lights were like a spotlight in her face- so I used my nursing apron as a shade for her. And I’m glad to hear the heat is a problem for others too- I thought I was the only one! Keep calm and nurse on!

  30. On the comment that society bans things people find gross- maybe they do, but nursing in public isn’t banned- in fact, most places it is protected by law, covered or uncovered, from being considered a public indecency. So while you may find it icky, the government does not and protects it, oftentimes with fines against those who would seek to run a nursing mum out of public. There’s something society also has made rules about- protecting what is best for children and families, whether others like it or not.

  31. I’m not yet a mom, but one of my relatives with two children linked this on Facebook and it’s nothing short of amazing. I remember being confused when I first learned about reproduction and breastfeeding, and then heard that it “isn’t polite” to bf in public (something that, from articles like this and friends’ personal accounts, I am disappointed to see has become almost even more taboo in the almost fifteen years since I first heard it). Uh?? Then what’s the point, if you take away the whole ‘providing nutritional sustenance’ part? I plan on breastfeeding whenever and wherever my child needs, and plan on not giving the slightest of cares about it. If people don’t like it, THEY can bring another human life into this world and do it their way. One of my favourite moments in TV is when the mom from Malcolm in the Middle answers the door topless because – surprise – she’s got four boys and little to no time to get stuff done. Her son’s teacher asks her to put on a shirt and she says, “They’re just boobs, lady. You see them in the mirror every morning. I’m sure yours are a lot nicer than mine.” But they’re not just boobs. They’re AWESOME NATURAL FEEDING MACHINES, why would people NOT be amazed by this, like, constantly?

  32. Thank you for this article. Everything I’ve said so many times, all wrapped up into one article! I am particularly offended when people assume NIP can be avoided with either a cover, pumping, or going into another room. My son was born VERY spirited. He did not cry, he screamed. He would not tolerate covers, even as a newborn. And never ONCE did he accept a bottle. Even when I had to care for my father in the hospital, he had to be fed by syringe while I was gone.

    I learned to stop feeling guilty or harassed after the first month, even with my in laws who are certainly not comfortable with my breastfeeding. All that mattered was my son. Thank you for standing up for all moms and, most of all, babies!

  33. As the father of a nursing son, I agree 100%. I’ve had to fight for my wife’s right to feed in public. I’ve been the subject of scrutiny. And I’m not a hippie (at least not on the outside). Thanks for a great article!

  34. Thank you! This is the best post on NIP I have ever read! I have four children. I nursed them all for over a year- one of them for two years. I have dealt with Barnes and Noble employees asking me if I’d like a chair
    brought into the rest room so I could nurse there, ( to which I replied, no thanks, you can eat your lunch in there if you want to though) and my own family asking me to retire to the den to nurse, so the makes in the family wouldn’t have to see it. ( to which I replied, no, if your husband, who is my uncle, can’t handle me nursing in front of him then I should take my children home and never return) . Even my own mother, who was once a ‘hippie’ and nursed me in front of everyone, told me to be more discreet. I told her she could leave my house and come back when the child was permanently done nursing. This is a topic that is out of control. It shouldn’t have become a topic to begin with. Nursing is the business of the mother and child. If someone can’t take their eyes off of the skin on my chest, then that’s their problem. High Five!!

    • Also- My sister in law once compared me to a ‘sow’ suckling her ‘piglet’. She wasn’t kidding. She said I was disgusting. I attempted to use a “light cover” the next time I nursed in her presence. My husband pulled the cover off, and said to her- ” Isn’t it amazing that my wife can nourish my children like this? I’m proud to be her husband.” To the person who replied that they get annoyed when mothers get upset at being told to cover up- shove it. That’s all. 🙂

      • The funny thing about that is if she saw an ACTUAL sow nursing her ACTUAL piglet, she’d probably coo and go on about how cute it was.

  35. It seems this post is a bit of venting, in response to very aggressive “shaming” experiences in public that the author has experienced. No doubt she’s experiences obnoxious behavior. But I find it frustrating when public breast-feeding absolutists will brook no suggestion whatsoever that there is any conceivable situation in which a breast-feeding mother could ever, in any way, be forcing her behavior on others in an inconsiderate manner. As if this is one anointed activity that is always appropriate. Is it unethical, immoral or illegal to partially undress in a restaurant and secrete fluids to a noisily suckling baby? No. But isn’t it possible that in some situations it might be rude? Yes, just as it’s surely rude for a barnstorming passerby to loudly accost a woman for breast feeding discretely at, say, a public playground. (Of course, the post both lambastes men for demanding “discretion,” and boasts about the author’s ability to breastfeed discretely as evidence in favor.)

    Also, for all the biting sarcasm about a nip-slip causing retinal damage, I can’t help but wonder what the author’s attitude would be if a man sitting next to her at a coffeeshop politely asked her to show him her breast in any other context. Yet, flashing him with it unsuspectingly is a matter of feminine rights. It’s hugely hypocritical for our culture to trade obsessively in female nudity as long as it’s sexualized, but then feign queasiness when that same nudity is used in a healthful, biologically necessary manner. But still, the “I’ll force you to see this very sexualized part of my anatomy” (if it weren’t, why don’t American women go topless in public?) self-righteousness has its own kind of hypocrisy.

    Unfortunately, according to the terms of the post I’m apparently an irredeemably stupid person who needs to be educated in the truth-by-assertion declared by fiat above. (Alas, putting your argument in italics doesn’t magical bestow it with infallibility.) But I think it’s possible to support public breast-feeding in general, while acknowledging there is a time and a place, and rejecting the absolutist hysteria that would call me a chauvinistic brute for even suggesting so.

    If your baby absolutely needs to be fed at that moment or will become sick or unhealthy, obviously that’s more important than a room full of people’s temporary ability to enjoy their environment. But it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have planned your day in a way that would be less disruptive to the people around you. Surely, it is the very definition of boorish to insist that the only thing of any importance in a community setting is your own needs. It seems like this post boils down to a defense of the right to be rude. Hooray for that?

      • Ack, and there my comment goes, down the drain in a vortex of inevitable chortling over a typo…I fail in advance.

    • The only “time and place” to feed a baby is whenever and where ever said baby is hungry.If you think there is a time and place for breastfeeding, then you DO NOT support breastfeeding.

    • Jeremy, I can certainly appreciate your argument and want to compliment you first on your respectful approach with a fantastic writing style to boot.

      To respond first to your point about discretion: I am not really boasting about my ability to be discreet as much as I’m pointing out that largely, the anti-NIP crowd has never seen a nipple or a a whole beat just hanging out there. The majority of them complain about nursing in public as a matter of principal, and almost none can describe a time they actually saw what they’re arguing everyone can see. Nursing in public, if left alone is usually in and of itself a discreet thing by nature. The mom slips a nipple into the baby’s mouth, and unless you *know* what’s happening, you don’t know. The baby stops fussing and everyone is happy. For lots of moms, a cover (even a small blanket) is a serious issue as their little one gets frustrated for lots of reasons (obstructed view, irritated face, sauna-like conditions, whatever). So the baby is thrashing, crying, grabbing at the blanket and generally making it impossible to remain “discreet.” All to accommodate someone else’s being uncomfortable when they could choose simply to look elsewhere.

      Furthermore, while it may seem reasonable to ask a mother to plan ahead when possible, that often involves doing things which severely affect milk supply and endanger the overall stability of breastfeeding. Pumps don’t express milk as effectively as babies, and when you don’t express milk, your body takes it as a sign you don’t need to make as much the next day. Scheduling feedings (presumably to avoid the need to nurse while out) also interrupts the reverse demand-supply relationship that is milk production. Introducing artificial nipples to younger babies can cause nipple confusion and result in their refusing the breast later on, and so on.

      So, what I find unreasonable is society’s determination that breasts are totally acceptable in bikini tops, low cut shirts, and fashion magazines, but as soon as we try to use them for their real purpose, we’re told it’s offensive or rude and ought to be covered. What I find unreasonable is the expectation that a woman should spend extra time and energy trying to accommodate the demands of people who may be offended.

      I have no issue with the opinion of others. I’m simply asking that they keep it to themselves.

    • You say that you “can’t help but wonder what the author’s attitude would be if a man sitting next to her at a coffeeshop politely asked her to show him her breast in any other context.” You go on to say, “Yet, flashing him with it unsuspectingly is a matter of feminine rights.” Can you truly not see the difference here? It is *hugely* a matter of what you call “feminine” rights. In the breastfeeding scenario, a woman is responding to the needs of her infant (and often her body, as a lactating woman’s body very strongly reacts when it is time to feed its baby), without regard to who might take issue or objectify her. Your coffee shop scenario, however, is all about satisfying a man’s desires and allowing him to objectify the woman. Telling a woman to cover up when she is nursing is no less anti-feminist and anti-women’s rights than asking her to expose herself to him for his pleasure. Both overlook the needs of the woman and turn her into an object to satisfy the comforts of those around her.

      As for the rest of your argument, I will assume that you either have no children or have been largely uninvolved in the daily caretaking of an infant, or possibly that you are just unfamiliar with the habits of breastfeeding infants. It is just not feasible for a mother to plan around her infant’s very unpredictable schedule. The time and place for a mother to nurse her infant is whenever and wherever she happens to be when her infant gets hungry. How much simpler could it be?

      This also bring in women’s rights. Why should the woman be forced to isolate herself at home for months (until her infant can have a more predictable schedule or go for longer periods of time without nursing), especially at a time when many women are very fragile (due to postpartum hormones and major life changes and identity shifts) and isolation can be incredibly dangerous, merely to satisfy the insecurities of others? Putting women’s rights aside, what of the rights of the child? Why are the (obviously in my opinion, unfounded) discomforts some others may feel about me breastfeeding my child more important than the needs and comforts of my child? I would argue that “the very definition of boorish” is actually to insist that your comfort is paramount, event to the comforts, nay, needs, of the smallest and most helpless creature in a community! When considering the heirarchy of needs in a community, I would definitely say that the most basic, most fundamental physiological needs of a helpless infant are far more important than the arbitrary ideas of comfort, “discretion,” and “modesty” of functioning, reasoning adults…

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