Breastfeeding in Public: Combating the Stigma while Keeping your Dignity

Young mom discreetly nursing her baby outsideWhile it’s true that breastfeeding in public is legal in all fifty states, like it or not, there is still a stigma associated with it. If like most breastfeeding moms, the desire to give your child his much-needed and very natural sustenance is stronger that your concern about what other people think or say about you, then you’re going to need to equip yourself with a few strategies. When implemented, these tips will help you combat the stigma associated with breastfeeding in public while keeping your dignity firmly intact.

  • Dress the part. If you’re a nursing mom today, count yourself as lucky. You’ve got it a lot better fashion-wise than your ancestral counterparts. It’s true; the nursing apparel available today—including bras, T-shirts, and even dressy blouses—are so cleverly designed that the untrained eye would never know you were a nursing mom (okay, except for the suckling baby in your lap). There are also nursing “capes” available today that can provide you with even more privacy.
  • Work within your own comfort zone. You certainly don’t have to wear any special clothing to nurse in public if you don’t want to. If you prefer to go au natural, feel free. Your comfort—and your baby’s— is the priority here. You might consider draping a blanket over your shoulder or turning away from others around you as your baby latches on. If you’re extremely modest, you can always pump milk beforehand to carry with you when you venture out in public.
  • Prepare your responses ahead of time. As long as the world continues to spin, there will always be rude and outspoken people in it. No matter what precautions you take or how discreet you are, if you’re nursing in public on a regular basis, you’re bound to be the recipient of some negative and misguided comments. If you prepare yourself for these situations beforehand, you’ll be better equipped to handle them in a calm and dignified manner. A simple, “Thank you, but I’m going to feed my baby” should be sufficient enough to deflect most of these unwanted remarks.

Whichever approach you choose, know that your choice to breastfeed your baby is one that will provide him with life-long health benefits. Any discomfort or embarrassment that you feel during this relatively short span of time is a small price to pay to ensure that your child is off to a good start, both physically and emotionally.

What do you think?

Breastfeeding in Public: Combating the Stigma while Keeping your Dignity

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35 comments

  1. Profile photo of Wendy Wendy says:

    I breastfed all my kids for at least a few months, and with each of them I would wear two shirts, a stretchy tank underneath (one that I could easily pull it down and under) and then whatever other shirt over it that I felt like wearing that day. The undershirt covered my stretch-marked belly, and when I lifted the top shirt up, I only lifted it enough to get my kiddos latched on and comfortable. I tried the blanket and cover ideas, that only distracted my little ones and they would pull it off or refuse to eat until it was off. People are usually understanding if you are trying to be discreet. I even had my husbands grandpa only realize what I was doing after I had finished feeding my 4th child at the dinner table one thanksgiving! As long as your not jiggling ’em around and flashing everyone, it’s not a big deal.

  2. Profile photo of Timothy Timothy says:

    my wife NEVER breast feed the baby in public.

  3. Profile photo of Alanna Alanna says:

    I’m sure more than half of the complainers were breast fed in public at some point during infancy. When my little one gets here I won’t let anyone shame me. It’s all about the healthiest thing for my child.

  4. Profile photo of shelia shelia says:

    Yes, people make me feel uncomfortable looking at me & my newborn baby when I breast feed him. But it is ok, because they must not be very smart. Breast feeding is the best way to feed a baby.

  5. Profile photo of emily emily says:

    I plan to breastfeed when my child gets here. If you feel that it is wrong for me to do it in public then you can walk the opposite direction. I will NOT make myself uncomfortable because other people don’t like it.

  6. Profile photo of wiFess*!* wiFess*!* says:

    I plan to breastfeed my child once he/she is here. I can’t see myself putting myself in an uncomfortable situation at the benefits of others. I feel like if my bfeeding is bothering you, you can leave the room until I’m done, the coast should be clear of your minute thinking.

  7. Profile photo of Marilyn Marilyn says:

    People are rude and small minded. With my son, my first, I was nervous about bfing in public. I did it because I wasn’t about to starve my child to make others comfortable. The worst was in the middle of summer, at a bbq, having to sit in my hot car to feed my son. This time around I won’t be doing whatever it takes to make others comfortable. It’s about me and my child!

  8. Profile photo of Epeak says:

    Stay calm and make sure you always have what you need. I.E. burp cloths, cover or blanket. Wear something that you can easily nurse in. Just plan ahead;0)

  9. Profile photo of Marina Marina says:

    Bought a nursing cover already.

  10. I am by far more distressed by sobbing infants then suckling infants. over three years olds that just dive under their moms shirt are a bit off putting though if they can say the word boobie they are too old to nurse in public.

  11. Profile photo of LuLu9 LuLu9 says:

    I always wear two shirts or a nursing tank when i don’t have a nursing cover. I ignore people (men and women) yes woman too, that give me strange looks or snickering. I find more inappropriate to stop and stare.

  12. Profile photo of EbyMom EbyMom says:

    just try and be in private once you are feeding your baby by using those nursing capes and cover up a bit. goodluck

  13. Profile photo of Sierra-Dawn Sierra-Dawn says:

    I need to get the nursing cape

  14. Profile photo of Rahima Rahima says:

    Ugh, it really shouldn’t be so difficult to feed our babies! Between feeling insecure about our own bodies, leering, or dirty looks, it does get a little tricky to nurse in public. I chose to invest in some nice nursing shirts with special openings for latching on, and a lightweight cover up ‘cape’ with an opening for my little ones to get air and for me to watch them. This made it possible for me to comfortably nurse my first baby and now my second one in public. It’s a personal decision, and it takes extra planning, but it’s worth it and I wouldn’t let anyone else make it for me! Good luck to everyone!

  15. Profile photo of katherine katherine says:

    I feel really weird breastfeeding my son in public so everytime he has to eat i just go to a place with less people…

  16. Profile photo of Jessica Jessica says:

    The only thing I don’t like about breastfeeding in public is the women that literally just pull out their boob, let it sit there while they pick up their child, and keep it hanging out the whole time. Yes, it’s natural, yes it’s healthier, but at least have respect for other people! Not everyone feels comfortable seeing your boobs everywhere. Common courtesy is a light cover up, thank you.

  17. Profile photo of Aliyahsmommy Aliyahsmommy says:

    I’m breast feeding my 7 month old but I have never felt comfortable doing it in public

  18. Profile photo of Hope Hope says:

    I breastfeed in public and don’t use a cover up. It makes my baby too hot. I wear a breastfeeding tank and a shirt (which covers mostly everything). If they have a problem with it, don’t look!

  19. Profile photo of SSValenzuela SSValenzuela says:

    From the very beginning I have breast feed my son in public. If people didn’t like it oh well that is their problem. Of course I would use a cover but people still get weird about it. My child is hungry and he is my first priority, not what people are thinking. Women produce milk for a reason. If it wasn’t right or natural for women to feed their children than we wouldn’t produce milk.

  20. Profile photo of Ada Ada says:

    Interesting….it’s a pity anyway cos I don’t care about what anybody thinks. My baby is hungry or isn’t that enough sense?

  21. Ive had an older man tell me to feed my son in the bathroom! Eww like i want to feed him around all those germs! so i politely told him if he didnt like it he could take his dinner in teh bathroom I was wearing a nursing top and had a cover over my son he just nurses loudly

  22. Profile photo of Jeanetta Jeanetta says:

    I think I will pump before hand or use a cover up if I need to feed my baby in public.

  23. Profile photo of kimberly kimberly says:

    I have family who did not support me with breast feeding in public, but I see it as my child is hungry and Im going to be a mother and feed him, I should not have to go out of my way to feed my child to make someone else happy. If you as an adult can eat in front of me my child can eat in front of you there is no differences we are all adults and some parents do not believe in bottle as i don’t..

  24. Profile photo of ErinF ErinF says:

    If my baby’s hungry, I’m going to feed her no matter where we are. If someone is offended at seeing a breast being used to nourish a child instead of being displayed as a sexual object, that’s their issue. I’d rather deal with a few dirty looks (and shoot some funny faces back in response) than deal with a hungry, screaming baby, or deal with the hassle of pumping and storing milk before every outing when I have the tap with me anyway!

  25. Profile photo of Miranda Miranda says:

    I feed my son when he is hungry. I don’t feel like I should make him wait just so others don’t fee uncomfortable. I was very nervous and apprehensive at first and always wanted to be extremely private about it. Now I’m open about it with those that are around me everyday and for the occasions that I’m in public or around extended family and such I have a nursing cape. My son doesn’t really like it but it works much better than a blanket and does the job. I have had some dirty looks but I just give them dirty looks right back. I dare anyone to say anything to me. They don’t like what I’m doing then they don’t need to look. I’m covered up and providing for my child.

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