Monday, 19 July 2010

Nursing in Public: What Makes It Easier For Me?

Welcome to The Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival!
This post was written as part of The Breastfeeding Cafe's Carnival. For more info on the Breastfeeding Cafe, go to For more info on the Carnival or if you want to participate, contact Claire at clindstrom2 {at} gmail {dot} com. Today's post is about nursing in public. Please read the other blogs in today's carnival listed below and check back for more posts July 18th through the 31st!

Photo courtesy of user Something to See on Flickr.

My personal thoughts on breastfeeding in public are probably tied in with the sort of person that I am, and always have been. I've never been someone to really worry about what other people think of me. Once I had a baby, his needs came paramount and the delicate sensibilities of random strangers weren't really on my radar.

I do tend to wear breastfeeding friendly clothing to avoid showing off huge amounts of skin to the world, but that is more about making myself feel comfortable, for me I am not that bothered about showing a bit of boob but I'd rather not flash my stomach if I can help it.

Here in the UK a lot of people do not fully understand the law on breastfeeding in public. Some think that it only covers you for six months and after that you can be arrested for indecent exposure. This is not true. A woman with a baby over six months who is asked to stop breastfeeding in a public place can sue under sexual discrimination legislation. Under six months, she can sue under sexual discrimination or maternity legislation. Either way, she is protected.

I really think that when it comes to breastfeeding, there's no way to completely avoid offending ALL people. Some people will be offended no matter what you do. Recently we've had the big story on the Russ and Lisa Show, where apparently Lisa Rollins stated that she thinks breastfeeding should be classed as indecent exposure and criminalized, WHETHER YOU ACTUALLY SHOW ANY BREAST OR NOT. So she would be offended to see any breastfeeding around her, covered or uncovered.
A couple of weeks ago Someone posted a twitpic of a lady breastfeeding in a restaurant, wearing one of those huge tent-like breastfeeding covers, with some kind of derogatory comment about how gross it was.

Another person tweeted that they had gone round to visit someone in their house who then proceeded to breastfeed in front of them, which they found somehow rude. So, even if you stay at home to breastfeed your child, you still run the risk of offending someone who might just happen to come round!

Go to the toilet and breastfeed, and you run the risk of offending someone in there by spending too long in the loo while someone desperately needs to go. How many people who say "take it to the bathroom" would really be happy if they were busting to go but they had to wait for 30 minutes while someone breastfed their child in there?

And then there's the issue of bottles. Setting aside the fact that not all women CAN pump much at all, some babies won't take bottles, but you know that there are women out there who sneer at anyone feeding their baby with a bottle, regardless of what is inside it. You really can't win no matter what you do.

So, I propose this: We stop worrying about what other people think. Breastfeed as we feel comfortable, covered or not, wherever we want, in private or not. Pump and bottle feed if that's what you want to do, or have your baby feed from the source. The law is on your side, and you can't please everyone. So you might as well do what makes you, and your baby happy.

So to answer what makes it easy for me to nurse in public, I would say confidence in myself, and knowledge of local laws regarding breastfeeding.

 Here are more posts by the Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival participants! Check back because more will be added throughout the day.


  1. not to mention all the people who would be offended if you just refused to feed your child because you WERE in public. . . because EVERYONE is offended by a screaming baby too, right?!!! Great post!

  2. Yes good point, that's something I bring up with the lact-haters on twitter! Sometimes they complain about the crying baby and then complain even more when the poor mama does something about it.... really you can't win!

  3. I wish that the United States had laws where we could sue people for asking a mom to stop breastfeeding in a public place!

  4. Here here! Fantastic post & I'm with you, I'm more worried about my post baby belly than I am about my boobs showing!

  5. you are so right! We can't win, so why try to please others? We should just worry about our babies and us being happy