Breastfeeding in Public: What’s the Problem?

Breastfeeding in Public: What’s the Problem? 

I explore this issue in my latest guest post at Discordia Zine.

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Earlier this week, I was dismayed to read that a woman was harassed for breastfeeding her 9 month old baby in a café. Not again!

This comes hot on the heels of an incident in January, where a woman at a public swimming pool was asked to refrain from breastfeeding her baby ‘out in the open’.

I can happily report that I have never encountered vitriol, dirty looks, or snide comments while breastfeeding in public. And I have some form!

As a mother of four, I have engaged in public breastfeeding on hundreds of occasions in a myriad of places……

To read the rest of this post, click here

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About Ally
Mamma. Vegan. I blog at Made of Stars.

12 Responses to Breastfeeding in Public: What’s the Problem?

  1. susykat says:

    This is a fantastic article. The recent episodes highlighted in the media are very worrying. Reading the comments sections under some of the articles leads me to believe there is an sizeable element of our society which is in denial that breasts have a physiological function and were not merely created for men’s pleasure! I find people’s disgust at public breastfeeding very perplexing – I have never felt offended, or even slightly uncomfortable, by seeing a woman breastfeeding her child.

    • Ally says:

      Thanks Susykat!
      I am perplexed too! I have to admit, when I heard that the latest incident occurred in a Cafe in Newtown, I was even more surprised.
      I often get frustrated by comments sections.
      There seems to be a wide discrepancy on this issue. Some people can’t believe that there is (or should be) a problem with public breastfeeding. They wonder what all the fuss is about. Others go on about the need to be ‘discreet’ and ‘private’. As though breastfeeding is inherently shameful or distasteful.

  2. These incidents really play a continuing role in society and the way we view breastfeeding. My views definitely changed over my own experiences as I was definitely shy and uncomfortable feeding in public at the start. I look back now as I comfortably feed in public because that is what you do when your little one is hungry, and I think about the way I used to feel. I really hope society’s view on breastfeeding continues toward a more positive approach so that children are not missing out simply because their mother’s are uncomfortable from these negative views. It is definitely not how you want to feel as a new Mum trying to feed your baby who is obviously hungry! There seems to be even more negative views when it comes to feeding a child over 1. Thanks for the post, and I appreciate those who take the time to support, promote, or make women feel positive breastfeeding 🙂

  3. Thomas says:

    I honestly do not understand why breastfeeding is an issue to some people. I mean it’s the best milk for them, it’s why the mother has milk in the first place to feed her baby… really I do not understand it at all… Where I live I see women breastfeeding in public and I really dont know what the fuss it all about…. Sorry I am repeating myself haha anyway great post and it should be read by every breastfeeding Mum who feels she should not breastfeed where she wants..

    • Ally says:

      Thank you kindly Thom 🙂 It seems ridiculous that we are still having problems with public breastfeeding when a woman’s right to engage in it has been enshrined in law since the mid-80’s!
      I figure you just look away if you don’t like what you see!
      Have you had any rain today? Yesterday was beautiful here, and I thought that was the end of the rain. Woke up to rain this morning. Hard to believe there is a heat wave in Victoria!

      • Thomas says:

        Hi you’re welcome. With this breastfeeding thing it seems society is regressing into the Victorian times .. yes sunny here finally 😀

  4. Sigh. I mean, really. A few years ago in Vancouver there was a similar fuss when some silly young H & M employee told a woman to go to a private place to feed her baby. I think it ended in a nurse-in style protest in the store. Funny how it’s perfectly acceptable to have highly sexualized images of pre-adolescent-looking girls plastered about on giant billboards, but what people get riled up about is the simple act of eating. If the same woman was being publicly groped by her guy, people probably wouldn’t care since the breasts would be being used for their socially accepted purpose, I imagine.

    On the bright side, a friend visited Jamaica recently, and found herself being frequently asked with concern and a total lack of shyness about whether she was breastfeeding her baby, and told things like “that’s the best for them.” By men as well as women.

    • Ally says:

      I know. I shouldn’t even need to write about it. It is ridiculous. Even some people who say that women should be able to breastfed in public, go on to say ‘but you should be discreet’. What? It isn’t shameful or rude.
      The Jamaican experience sounds very sensible.
      When my first child was a bub, my grandfather asked if I was breastfeeding. When I said I was, he said ‘great’! And then proceeded to tell me how much of a breadtfeeding advocate my grandmother had been (she had died a few years earlier). I wish I had been able to talk to her about her experiences of breastfeeding in the 1940’s. But it never occurred to me while she was still alive- I wasn’t interested then.
      True, breasts on display for male gratification are always welcomed.
      Thanks for your interesting comment. 🙂

  5. Sophie33 says:

    this was a very interesting article! thanks for sharing with us, dear Ally!

  6. Awesome article, Ally. I’m happy to report I’ve never had anyone react negatively when I breastfeed in public, and I’ve done it everywhere – including a bowling alley! It’s great that you’re speaking up and educating people about the issue. Facebook reportedly censors photos of women nursing their babies. It’s so backward 😦

    Hunter, at 16 months, still LOVES to nurse. He eats some solid food – but what he really loves is breast milk 🙂 Like you, I’ll likely continue to nurse him past 24 months.

    • Ally says:

      That’s awesome! There are so many wonderful benefits to breastfeeding a toddler.

      This is a great book- http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/0912500522

      I read it when I was breastfeeding my first toddler, my daughter (who is now 9).

      I am happy to hear that you have never experienced negative comments or dirty looks while breastfeeding in public. 🙂

  7. If anyone had something negative to say to me about breastfeeding in public, they’d have a lecture coming to them 🙂 Thanks for the book recommendation. I’ll check it out!

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