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The Big Cover Up: Breastfeeding in Public

The Big Cover Up: Breastfeeding in Public

From workplace to park bench to a friend's living room, one of the issues every new breastfeeding mom wrestles with is when, how--and even whether--to breastfeed in public.

With three out of four new moms in the United States now breastfeeding during their baby's first weeks, nursing in public is becoming more common. And the tide of support is slowly rising as well. 44 states have legislation that makes it legal for moms to breastfeed in public, according to The National Council of State Legislatures, and more states, including Tennessee, have proposals in place to do the same, according to the Times Free Press.

A recent, informal Circle of Moms poll in the Breastfeeding Moms community asked community members if they thought moms should be allowed to breastfeed in public or only in private. More than 650 members, or 98 percent of those polled, say that women should be allowed to nurse their babies wherever works best in the moment, public spaces included. Only two percent of Circle of Moms members polled say nursing should always be done privately.

Many Circle of Moms community members strongly support breastfeeding in public, but make attempts to be discreet:

“I am all for it,” says Isabel C. in the Circle of Moms Young Mums Due in December 2010 community. “That being said, I choose to not subject everyone to it. I have a blanket and a nursing cover-up. My son needs to eat just like everyone else on this planet and it's what my breasts were made for.”

Sarah T., a member of Circle of Moms Nature's Way UK Community agrees, saying she doesn’t understand what offends people so much about breastfeeding in public: “I just don't understand the issue as long as the mother isn't flashing her breasts about and is discreet,” she shares. “And for the record, discreet is not putting a blanket over the baby’s head, as this is just wrong in my opinion. Why don't we all sit with a blanket on our heads next time we have a meal?"

But some Circle of Moms members believe that if it makes others uncomfortable, breastfeeding moms should cover up or breastfeed in private.

“I strongly believe that if it makes others uncomfortable, especially children, then that person should have an obligation to cover up,” says Suzanne K., who was careful to be discreet when she breastfed her two children. She adds, “Seeing this part of the body naturally makes people uncomfortable no matter how you try to justify it.”

But Laura H. of the Circle of Moms Breastfeeding Community urges moms who nurse in public to keep on doing so:

“If no one nurses in public, then the public will not know there are women nursing,” says Laura. “If we don’t nurse in public then young girls will grow up only ever seeing bottles feeding babies. And, if we don’t nurse in public then the snotty people who will make bad comments about it will never get ignored, or set straight. And they could keep on discouraging other moms.”

How do you feel about breastfeeding in public?

Image Source: _Shward_ via Flickr/Creative Commons

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.

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MeganBlinn MeganBlinn 3 years
'Like it or not breasts are sexual' but in biological terms the first function of sexuality is reproduction and, therefore, the sustenance of offspring. I will be happy to breastfeed under a nursing cover or in another room when women of childbearing age agree to wear no more bikini tops, posterior-revealing shorts, or see-through dresses. That way all of our sexuality, including feeding our children, can take place behind closed doors and we can pretend that we are non-sexual, non-reproducing organisms in the way that the Puritan foreFATHERS of our country hoped we would.
LucyLalouette LucyLalouette 4 years
You don't need to have your entire boob on display to breastfeed - if you wear a loose shirt and pull it up from the bottom, the baby covers your tummy anyway, so no-one needs to see any skin at all most of the time! I have more than once had a conversation with someone while breastfeeding without them realising I was feeding until my baby was finished. So honestly, if your baby needs feeding, feed them... If anyone has a problem with it it's theirs to deal with, not yours.
MelissaDale12032 MelissaDale12032 4 years
When I breastfed my son, I got all kinds of snarky comments. A month before I weened, I finally found out my rights. Now, if someone makes a snarky comment or tells me to leave or they'll call the cops, I'm going to pop out a baby bottle that looks like a boob. LOL! Not really, but man, it's tempting. I wouldn't even pull the girls out or anything I always cover up. Even at home! I'm a modest girl myself but the level that some people would go to chase breastfeeding women out of stores and restaurants is insane. I especially loved the one woman who called the cops over to where we were and her nasty saggy, wrinkled breasts were almost hanging out her top and I was trying to feed my son under poncho. The cop sided with me, but I was so angry that I left to the hallway anyway. Can't feed while the blood is boiling.
brandielytle brandielytle 4 years
I wear two shirts so that i can lift one and drop the other and feed. I still have people who comment or look down at me as if i am doing something wrong. I have nothing showing no tummy no boob no bra no nothing.besides my sons whole face not showing. No matter what people aginst breastfeeding wont change no matter if we cover up. I was in walmart and a woman who walks there asked me to go the the changing room to feed my son and i had my cover on. I just looked at her and she walked away.
melissagrenier98205 melissagrenier98205 4 years
I going on my third child and this will be my first one to breastfeed and i have no problem with anyone doing it in public, maybe there afraid their husbands will keep looking or something because its nature all the animals in the world do it and our childern see it, so it should be no big deal they have coverups out there that dont even show anything so whats the big deal.
MeaganSmith32275 MeaganSmith32275 5 years
How many of the people in the poll are from communities of pro-breastfeeders? I don't think breast feeding is horrible, and although I was not comfortable with it, I dont think that people should be discouraged from doing it. However, I dont understand, as natural as it may be, why a woman wouldnt WANT to cover up. Days after my daughter was born, a man propositioned me to let him "try it out" (breastfeeding). A total stranger. Although those types of pervs are probably few and far between, there are PLENTY of pervs that wouldn't mind getting just a little peak of a womans breast, and honestly, I dont want some creepy man thinking about me later on.... Also, putting that aside, a lot of these same "women should breast feed" types condemn and judge women who don't. I actually once had someone tell me I was a terrible mom for not breastfeeding. Another once told me that I was offending them by bottle feeding my child. Most people who bottle feed face HARSH critism over that from these same people who feel slighted. Articles like this are hypocracy at it's finest. As I said, I dont think there is anything wrong with breastfeeding, and if you want to whip out your boob in public, go for it! I just cant understand why a person would WANT to (whip out their boob with no cover). That's just me though.
BrandiLaw BrandiLaw 5 years
I hate it when ppl say "if it makes ppl uncomfortable, especially children". When would a child be uncomfortable? Never unless they were taught as such wich is ridiculous and as much as I would love to say this is my opinion i don't want to b/c i really feel that this is not my opinion. THIS IS NATURE so take it up with her you jackdonkeys. ...this being said i have a real hard time breatfeeding in public b/c of our "western outlook" but obviously think it's ridiculous and stupid.
BrandyShear BrandyShear 5 years
I breast-fed in public and before I did I researched the laws to make sure I would not be arrested for indecent exposure. When people would remark about it that I shouldn't I asked them point blank "would you rather her starve?" My daughter would not take a bottle she absolutely refused so it was breast or nothing. Its natural to the point that it never even effected my house full of boys.
BrandiWilliams37862 BrandiWilliams37862 5 years
I breastfeed my daughter in public. I am very discreet, but if she's hungry and you can keep it discreet ... why not?
KristinaHendrickson KristinaHendrickson 5 years
I am all for breastfeeding mothers - i would myself if it worked out for me, however, on the same note, there is something called modesty. Not everyone needs to or wants to see ur body, we know what is going on under a blanket and you should leave ur complete openess to your personal house. If someone enters into your home, they can deal with what is going on, but if your out, please have respect for your body and for others and cover it up.
RebeccaRowe2297 RebeccaRowe2297 5 years
I am a breast feeding mother and feel conscious in some places feeding in the first few months. But 6 months on I feed my little one where ever I may be. People dont even realise I'm feeding half the time.
ameliavaira ameliavaira 5 years
i agree, mothers should be allowed to nurse their child in public. i personally cannot do it but it wouldnt bother me seeing another mother doing it.
Heidiwolff Heidiwolff 5 years
yeah i am haveing another baby with this one i am going to brestfeed and if i am in public when the baby needs food i will feed it no matter what infants need too eat just like we do
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