Breast Feeding Parenting

Breastfeeding In Public: Food or Lewd?

Last week I posted a article about Toronto Board of Health members developing a policy that affirms the right of breast-feeding mothers to breast-feed in all public places controlled by the municipality.

MSNBC has a an article asking whether or not it is appropriate to breastfeed in public. They give examples of mothers who have been disrupted while feeding their infants in public and others who feel that nursing mothers need to go somewhere in private to nurse their babies and not sit and flaunt their breasts in public.

This is a very passionate subject. Some moms have varying opinions on the appropriateness of feeding your child out in public.

On the ABC talk show, “The View,” Barbara Walters told how uncomfortable she felt sitting near a woman on an airplane flight who was breast-feeding her child. Within minutes, lactivist were online organizing nurse-ins around the country.

When “Baby Talk” magazine, which bears the slogan “Straight talk for new moms,” published a photo of a breast-feeding baby on the cover of its August 2006 issue, a flood of readers objected. In a poll of their readers, a quarter called the photo inappropriate.

While on vacation, in Vegas, a mom was nursing her 22-month-old son at a hotel restaurant when the assistant manager started unfolding a napkin and motioning for her to cover up. When the mother said she was fine, thank you, two more restaurant employees got in on the conversation. They told her if she didn’t cover, she would have to leave. They began “explaining to me that I could not be naked in public, that there were nudity and lewdness laws in Las Vegas!

When I was breastfeeding my son I found it hard to find a place that was discreet to feed him. Many times in a restaurant I would bring a chair into the restroom and feed him in there. While out for dinner once at the CN Tower the only place that was appropriate to feed him was the managers ‘cubby hole’ office. The staff was very accommodating, which helped somewhat. It was uncomfortable, but you do what you have to do when your baby is hungry.

I don’t have any issues with moms who nurse anywhere. Some women are so discreet you are not able to tell what is going on. It almost looks as though they are just cradling the baby.

Many times, the people who are the most uncomfortable are the ones who never nursed themselves. If my husband saw a women nursing her baby in public it probably wouldn’t faze him because he was so used to seeing me feed our son for months.

If it makes you uncomfortable than just don’t look. Moms are not feeding their babies to upset you, they are just fulfilling a basic need. Her child needs to eat and there aren’t always discreet places available to do it.


About the author

Lisa Arneill

Mom of 2 boys and founder of and World Traveled Family. When I'm not running around after my boys, I'm looking for our next vacation spot!

1 Comment

  • When I was breastfeeding my daughter in a restaurant and someone asked me to be more descreet and feed her in the restroom, I felt so upset that someone thought that what I was doing was “dirty”, my daughter was hungry so I fed her. When I told the person that if they where willing to eat their meal in the restroom, then maybe I might consider letting my daughter eat hers there too. NOT!!! That shut them up!

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