The last time I wrote about breastfeeding in public, I was a brand new mother that felt somewhat self-conscious while doing it. The longer I breastfeed, the more strongly I feel about a mother’s right to do it in public. And I don’t just mean their legal right. I mean their right to do it openly, often, and wherever necessary without judgement.
You can imagine I was shocked to recently read this small blurb in the Bozeman Montana Police reports,
A woman was breastfeeding a child on a South Third Avenue sidewalk at 11:51 a.m. The resident of a nearby home called police to find out whether public breastfeeding is legal.
September 15, 2011
Seriously?! Someone called the police on a breastfeeding mother? In Montana, as with most states, breastfeeding is protected by the law and I was happy to read three letters to the editor (including this one, by the breastfeeder in question) questioning the call to the police.
I am so disappointed in the perception of breastfeeding in public. Breastfeeding is one of the best things a mother can do for her baby. It is good for the baby’s health, mother’s health, more gentle on the environment, and frankly, the evolutionary reason women have breasts. I know that not every mother can nurse, but every mother who wants to, should be supported by the rest of us. To be made to feel shamed, self-conscious, judged or harassed is incredibly discouraging to mothers trying hard to do a good thing that is hard enough on its own.
I am so tired of people trying to censor nursing because they are projecting their sexualized view of women’s breasts onto a natural act. Why is it that in this day and age, we are more comfortable with bare midriffs, micro minis, and excessive amounts of cleavage than we are with a baby eating lunch.
I say, If you want to breastfeed openly in public – do it. If you want to do it with a cover – do it. If you think it’s an intimate and private thing, then do it at home. But I don’t think anyone has the right to tell people how or where to feed their baby.
image : flickr | fikirbaz
Read Natalie’s take | Nursing Is Not Gross