Breastfeeding in public

My girlfriend and her husband recently had a beautiful baby boy.  When we visited them and all sat around their coffee table, the baby became noticeably fussy.  My girlfriend took her baby lovingly in her arms, kissed his cheek, and began to nurse.

I was amazed.  What a beautiful thing to be able to share with your child.  I was also impressed by her courage to breastfeed in front of my husband and me.  As natural as breastfeeding is, some women might feel a little self-conscious about doing so in public and may fear making others uncomfortable.

Breastfeeding is a beautiful, natural part of life that can be done anywhere.  Most states have laws protecting mom’s right to breastfeed.  In fact, breastfeeding in public is legal any place a mother is allowed to be with her baby.

Once mom starts to get back into her pre-baby routine, it can be hard to schedule the day’s errands around her newborn’s feedings. If you’re out and about, you can try to pack a bottle of expressed (pumped) breastmilk ahead of time. But sometimes, no matter how much you plan, you might find yourself having to nurse your baby in public.

There are lots of things you can do to feel more comfortable. Several companies sell breastfeeding clothes to make breastfeeding discreet. But, any two-piece outfit with a shirt that pulls up (rather than unbuttons) can work well. Once your baby is latched on to your breast, you can settle the shirt hem so that little or no breast shows. Practice in front of a mirror until you feel confident.  If you’re particularly shy, a vest, poncho or sweater can provide additional coverage from the side.  Also, ask your employer if there is a lactation policy or a place where you can breastfeed or pump milk in private.

However you choose to breastfeed, just be sure that YOU are comfortable!

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8 Responses to “Breastfeeding in public”

  1. Becka Says:

    Very nicely written. Moms do have to be comfortable and I think society needs to do more to make moms comfortable while breastfeeding. I posted similar blogs about this subject and I’d love some feedback!

  2. Ivette Says:

    Thanks for your comment, Becka! Glad to know there are more of us blogging about this subject.

  3. JakeMarcusJD Says:

    I am always glad to see information provided on this critical issue. However, it is important that legal information be accurate. You wrote:

    “Most states have laws protecting mom’s right to breastfeed in public. In fact, breastfeeding in public is legal any place a mother is allowed to be with her baby.”

    These sentences are inconsistent because the first is not entirely accurate and the second is not true at all. Most states have laws concerning breastfeeding in public but not necessarily creating or protecting a legal right. It is important to know the wording of the law of the state in which you breastfeed in public. This can be found in several places including http://llli.org/Law/LawBills.html ; http://www.mothering.com/articles/new_baby/breastfeeding/lactation-law.html and http://www.mothering.com/resources/map.pdf .

    While breastfeeding in public is not ILLEGAL anywhere in the U.S., knowing the extent of protection can make all the difference when faced with a store owner having a mother removed by police.

  4. Kiera Pedley Says:

    Lovely post.
    I’ve come from a background, where breastfeeding is completely normal, so it never occured to me to be shy about breastfeeding in public. However, I know many women who are shy, and self concious.

    It’s really lovely that people are becoming more aware of just how natural and wonderful nursing a baby actually is, and encouraging it, and writing about it, is so empowering for all nursing mums.

  5. Ivette Says:

    Jake, thanks for your comment and the legal perspective you bring. According to the CDC Breastfeeding Report Card, “Most states now have some form of legislation (laws) protecting the basic human right to breastfeed.” GotMom.org says, “In the United States, breastfeeding in public is legal anyplace a mother is allowed to be with her baby.” The post includes links to both of these sources.

  6. Ivette Says:

    You’re absolutely right, Kiera. It’s important we encourage and empower all breastfeeding moms. Thanks for your comment!

  7. JakeMarcusJD Says:

    🙂 I hope the additional resources I provided are helpful because it is necessary to see what the laws actually say and how the laws work in order to determine whether the laws in fact “protect” breastfeeding in public. Neither the CDC nor GotMom make or apply these laws. Neither is a legal resource and neither actually states to what protection they refer. Sadly, women read such statements concerning “protection” and find themselves without the resources they need when faced with harassment or arrest when breastfeeding in public. A mother may read the statement at GotMom and think she can not be arrested for trespass if she refuses to leave, for example, a store when ordered to by the owner who does not want breastfeeding on his property. However in many states, legally this is still the case and mothers should not be misled about what the laws say and do.

    That said, I breastfed in public for over eight years in a state with no legal protection and never had a problem. Most women won’t, regardless of the law. But knowledge is power and part of empowerment is having accurate information. What the law says and how the law is applied is what moms need to know – not how non-legal websites characterize laws.

  8. ellen Says:

    Nice to know you Ivette and Becka, I do blog about this subject 😀