Post # 1
Target recently announced they’re going to create lactation areas in select stores so women who want to nurse more privately while shopping there have a space to do so. I think that’s awesome, but of course the usual trolls were all over the comments of the news stories about it, shaming women for having no decency. Sadly the harshest critics seemed to be other women, many of whom claimed to have breastfed their own kids.
Before I had a baby, I never gave a moment’s thought to the issue of breastfeeding in public, though I was supportive in theory I guess. I don’t think I ever in my life noticed someone nursing in a public place, but I’m sure it happened many many times in my presence. Now that I have a baby who’s been on a bottle strike since about six weeks of age, and who, at seven months old, still nurses every two hours during the day, I’ve gradually gone from super self conscious nursing in public to now fairly comfortable whipping it out pretty much anywhere if my baby needs to eat. I will sometimes use a cover, depending on the situation, but it’s like 50/50 whether my baby will tolerate the cover or not. No one’s ever said a negative word to me, fortunately.
Anyway …the Target article got me wondering about other people’s experiences breastfeeding in public. Nursing mamas, have you ever had a bad experience with this? If so how did you respond? I kind of have a speech prepared if someone ever says something to me while I’m trying to feed my baby in public, but I hope I’ll never need to use it!
Post # 2
tiffanybruiser : I’ve actually been surprised at the support that I received. I found that I like to nurse in changing rooms, aside from the baby seeing herself in the mirror and being distracted lol. I went to stand in line for a dressing room and a male employee took one look at my frantic face and my crying baby and he knew exactly what I was looking for. He brought me to their employee mothers lounge where their employees go to pump and let me nurse her there.
Our mall also has family lounges with rocking chairs and curtains for nursing mothers to use. Knowing that the room was there when I was nursing made me choose their mall over other malls.
I can see how this can be seen as shaming mothers, however, I love it. I can nurse in comfort and not worry about people saying anything to me, I don’t have to worry about not having enough milk with me, I can go to the lounge and sit in a rocking chair and just focus on my daughter instead of stressing about people being offended
I DO understand how these rooms can be seen as negative and not helping the stigma, but they were a major positive for me
Post # 3
I didn’t breastfeed, but I was approached many times while feeding my baby a bottle and had strangers thank me for having the manners to use a bottle in public. They would then attempt to launch into a story about some person who had had the audacity to breastfeed in public and “ruin” such and such an experience for them. It would make me so uncomfortable! I wasn’t bottle feeding out of shame, my kid was on formula and I just don’t have the ability to make that come out of my breasts.
Feeding your kid is feeding your kid. It’s upsetting how many people still don’t get that.
Post # 4
Oh I agree with you…I totally prefer nursing in a private area to doing it in public. So much easier with a distracted baby. I really appreciate stores that offer options like this and I don’t consider it shaming at all. Sansa85 :
Post # 5
I think it’s great Target would add those rooms. I used to plan my target runs in between feeds or naps because with a tiny newborn or any baby you really need somewhere to sit down and how many places are there to do that there at Target or grocery stores?? Aside from dressing rooms or the floor there is like nowhere to sit unless it happens to be summer with the outdoor furniture.
My babies would never take bottles from me and why would I ever bottle feed them because then I’d need to pump in public instead which is MUCH more awkward lol. Just feed the baby.
I mostly only breastfed in public when we were out doing activites with the kids (like the zoo, pool, or other places you take your kids and are out for 4 hrs or more). Mostly I just tried to find an out of the way place that was quiet (or quieter). I only nursed in bathrooms once or twice and it was because they had a seating area and it was the only place I could really find to actually sit down. Especially once they aren’t newborns, you want to avoid distraction otherwise baby is always pulling off and looking around instead of eating. I never used a cover because they are a PITA and babies don’t like them. Sometimes I’d put a muslin blanket over my shoulder though so I didn’t feel quiet as exposed. Depends on the weather but summer I’d just pull my tank top down but in winter I would have the 2 shirts (tank underneath, and long shirt). I didn’t wear nursing tanks either.
My second was nursed in public quite a bit more because we aren’t gonna stay inside all year when I have a 2.5 year old that needs to get out.
Pumped in the car quiet a bit and had to pump out in the open at the airport before which is pretty awkward. I’d much rather just breastfeed my baby lol.
Also- no one ever said anything to me 🙂
Post # 6
I didn’t do it frequently, but no one ever said a word to me. Normally I’d try to find a more secluded spot, but a few times I nursed at the table while out to eat. I always wore a cami underneath my regular shirt so there wasn’t much to see.
One time we had a really young male waiter and he totally stuttered when he saw I was nursing but he composed himself quickly lol.
Honestly I think my mom and Darling Husband were more bothered than I was. Whatever. Baby needs to eat. Would people rather hear a screaming baby?
Post # 7
That’s infuriating and so ignorant. It’s stories like that that make me suspect a lot of people privately share the view that nursing in public is obscene. throughthelookingglass87 :
Post # 8
I’m in the UK and our right to breastfeed wherever we choose is enshirned in law.
i feed wherever and whenever I need, I don’t use a cover and I rarely use nursing rooms. Mostly because I don’t like to be hidden away. I’ve had more smiles of support than nasty comments. Most brits wouldn’t say anything even if they didn’t like it lol. tiffanybruiser :
Post # 9
tiffanybruiser : I breastfed in public wherever and whenever I needed to. There is no shame in feeding my child! Target has always been awesome to nursing mommas – they won’t say anything if you nurse in the store, but if you ask for a private space they’ll direct you to a dressing room, not a bathroom. I’ve nursed in Target, restaurants, breweries, parks, parking lots, airplanes, during my annual eye exam, and even in my seat at a Bruins game once.
Personally I chose to stop nursing during the day (and in public) at one year old, but that was primarily because I wanted my body back and was sick of her pulling at my clothes all the time. She still nursed twice a day at home until she self-weaned at 20 months. I totally support moms who breastfeed in public, no matter the kid’s age. Nursing is about more than nutrition! And each nursing pair has to do what’s right for them.
I tried to be discreet at first and then I remember one time she was a few weeks old, screaming her head off, and I couldn’t get her latched and my shirt kept getting in the way and I pulled my entire boob clear out of my shirt in the middle of a restaurant in Cambridge. Nipple was seen by all while I fumbled with this disaster. No one said a peep to me except to assure me that the crying baby wasn’t bothering them and that I was doing a great job. The only time someone told me not to breastfeed was the childcare drop-off at a YMCA. I asked to use their rocking chair before I left her to work out and they said “omg no we can’t let the children see that!! You have to nurse somewhere else” Ok fine. I found a chair facing the front entrance with my entire boob hanging out so every single person walking in saw me. That was the only time I ever made a “show” of it because fuck them for saying I was do something wrong, or gross, or shameful that needed to be hidden.
Post # 10
I live in the Bay Area and in my liberal AF city, “breast is best” is touted nonstop and breastfeeding makes you pretty much Goddess Mom of the Year. Breastfeeding is great, no doubt. But unfortunately the downside of this prevailing mindset is that those who can’t breastfeed/have to use formula are made to feel lesser than and like they’re screwing up their babies, which is so far from the truth. I had to EP (and did so for 15 months) and even though LO got breastmilk exclusively that whole time, I even felt lesser than.
So tl;dr the pendulum has swung sooooo far on to pro-breastfeeding spectrum here that nursing in public is never, ever frowned upon and, if anything, heavily praised.
Post # 11
Twizbe : It’s legal to breastfeed publicly in the U.S. too, but trolls will be trolls I suppose. Personally I always prefer a private area because it’s just easier to get my distracted baby to get to actually focus on the task at hand lol. But I definitely don’t think people should be forced or even pressured to use private areas. I appreciated that Target, in their announcement about the lounges, emphasized that women are welcome to breastfeed anywhere in the store – the lounge is just another option.
Post # 12
TheGridMonster : I definitely agree the pendulum has swung too far in the opposite direction in some crowds. I’m not even in a very liberal area, but in my local moms group on Facebook, if someone mentions supplementing with formula, there are some assholes who will actually react to that with the crying face emoji. I don’t have enough eyerolls for that. In fact, someone once commented “fed is best” in a thread about formula, and the comment got DELETED by a mod because the group is so heavily pro-breastfeeding. Like if “fed is best” is now controversial we’ve definitely gone too far.
Post # 13
I’m in the Pittsburgh, PA area with an array of people, lots of them close-minded, but I never had an issue. I nursed at a shopping mall in the middle of the walkways, at one of the busiest 4th of July parades, at restaurant tables, and at a dek hockey rink. Never had people say one thing or another to me, except maybe at the 4th of July parade? Some women was gawking at my baby as she was attached to my boob. lol. So nothing negative.
Post # 14
tiffanybruiser : I want to hear the speech you have prepared!! I think I’d say something along the lines of “if I have to choose between making you uncomfortable or making my baby uncomfortable, I choose you.”
Post # 15
- Wedding: October 2019 - Chateau Lake Louise
In her book Bossypants, Tina Fey called these people Teat Nazis.
It’s unfortunate, but you aren’t wrong about other women being the most vocal in shaming other mothers. I deeply believe it’s a product of the double standard Ali Wong points out in her stand up – it takes so little to be considered a good dad, and so little to be considered a shitty mom
There’s so much uncertainty about how to be a “good” parent and the right/best way to do things. In my experience, when some people feel insecure about their own choices, they attack anyone around them who might have made another choice. As though simply doing something else is an automatic condemnation of what they themselves decided to do. To me, it always smacks of a desperate need for external validation. And nothing pisses those people off more than someone who could not give a shit less what anyone else thinks.
THAT RUINS THE WHOLE SHAME-BASED SOCIAL CONTROL SYSTEM UPON WHICH THEY HAVE BASED THEIR ENTIRE LIFE!!! HOW DARE YOU!!
And shame is what it really comes down to. People who have been taught to be ashamed of bodies. That nudity is always sexual. That menstrual periods should be hidden, denied, and humiliating to admit. That female nipples are a public health hazard that might set off a riot, should they be exposed to daylight. All serving the overarching cultural obsession with shaming & controling the normal function of women’s bodies.
Fuck the patriarchy, man.
All that being said, back when I was nursing I would have been delighted to find a quiet place with a soft chair to feed my daughter. Not that I was opposed to popping out a boob wherever should the need arise; it’s just nice to have a pleasant alternative.