Women Have the Right to Breastfeed in Public Places

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A person may be offended at seeing a woman breastfeeding in public because it bares part of her body that should remain covered up in public. NASCAR driver, Kasey Kahn, tweeted this to his fans: “Just walking through supermarket. See a mom breastfeeding little kid. Took second look because I was obviously seeing things. I wasn’t…. One boob put away one boob hanging!!! #nasty,” and then, “I don’t feel like shopping any more or eating (NASCAR’s Kasey Kahne apologizes for ‘nasty’ breastfeeding tweet).

His post on Twitter was only available for a few hours, and he received many comments “booing” him and his attitude toward a woman choosing to breastfeed in public (NASCAR’s Kasey Kahne apologizes). He Facebooked this 6 hours after his original negative tweet: “I apologize. It was in no way my intention to offend any mother who chooses to breastfeed her child, or, for that matter, anyone who supports breast feeding children… In all honestly, I was surprised by what I saw in a grocery store.

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I shared that reaction with my fans on Twitter. It obviously wasn’t the correct approach, and, after reading your feedback, I now have a better understanding of why my posts upset some of you (NASCAR’s Kasey Kahne apologizes). ” Kasey Kahne’s comments on Twitter revealed what many people think of seeing a woman nursing in a public setting. However, women most certainly have the right to breastfeed in public, and should not be rebuked by passersby, nor required by businesses to breastfeed their babies in a private setting only.

Women have legal rights to breastfeed in public, yet businesses are not always on the breastfeeding-in-public band wagon, so to speak. It really is completely acceptable for women to nurse their babies in public. In this essay, I hope to discuss women’s and baby’s rights to breastfeed anywhere, at any time. There are 3 parts to this subject: 1) Women’s legal rights in breastfeeding, 2) Women’s civil rights in breastfeeding, and 3) Baby’s rights to breastfeed. First, there is the issue of women’s legal rights to breastfeed.

Women should not be required by businesses to breastfeed their abies in a private setting only because breastfeeding in public is a legal right in all 50 states (Breastfeeding in Public: A Mother’s Rights). Some states have laws on the books that specifically say that a woman is protected in public (Breastfeeding in Public). This happens by excluding them from prosecution under other laws that deal with indecent exposure or obscenity. In other states like New York and California, specified civil statutes address breastfeeding in public and grant women the right to do so (Breastfeeding in Public).

Under a current federal law, a woman has the right to breastfeed her child in public on any federal property or within any federal building (Breastfeeding in Public). The Georgia state law clarifies that a mother has the right to breastfeed in public wherever she is allowed to be with her child (Georgia State Legal). Even around the world there are laws that render legal rights to women breastfeeding in public. We discussed women’s legal rights; now let’s move on to discussing women’s civil rights to breastfeed.

It is a fact that breastfeeding is a biological function, with nearly 75 percent of American mothers choosing to breastfeed their babies (Breastfeeding Report Card, 2011). Women from all walks of life make the choice to feed their babies by breastfeeding: rich and poor, white and black, American and foreign, commoners and even Hollywood actresses, including Angelina Jolie, Tori Spelling, Christina Aguilera, Jennifer Garner, Beyoncé and the most popular singer, Pink.

In fact, Rocker Mom Pink was ready to start a fight over an insensitive breastfeeding observation someone made to her while she was publicly feeding her baby in a restaurant (“Rocker mom Pink”). For many women the decision to breastfeed is an easy one, but figuring out the logistics of just how to do it in public is the challenging part. In our society, some people can make critical remarks or confront mothers with unnecessary and illegal “rules”. Many mothers find that any type of confrontation in relation to breastfeeding is difficult to deal with; many times women feel that it is a personal attack towards them.

There is no legitimate reason why a baby cannot be fed the “natural way” in front of people, and we all should be supportive of nursing mothers choosing this healthy way to nourish their babies in our presence. Thirdly, let’s look at more rights to breastfeed, and that is the babies’ rights to breastfeed. Babies have the right to dine in public, too. There is no valid reason why a baby cannot be fed by “Nature’s Way” in front of people. I will say that breastfeeding is a biological function. The breast contains nutritious milk, the best natural, nutrient-filled liquid an infant can intake.

Every baby has the right to eat when he or she is hungry, even if it includes eating from a breast, in public or private. As a mother of one, I cannot imagine not feeding my child anytime, anywhere she needs to be fed. I have uncovered three of the biggest arguments against my position on breastfeeding in public: 1) Some people are uncomfortable to be around a mother using her breasts to feed her hungry baby, as these people may view breasts as sexual organs only, 2) People may say that there is a time and a place for breastfeeding, 3) It is a possibility a nursing mother may inadvertently expose her breasts.

The number one reason people are opposed to a woman breastfeeding her infant in public situations is that it triggers a thought of breasts being sexual organs. Unfortunately, breastfeeding brings a sense of shame or discomfort to those who only view breasts as sex organs. People can even be quite indignant about their disdain for observing a nursing mother in a public place. Granted, God designed a woman’s body in such a way that a man is attracted to her curves. However, the breasts were also created for a purpose other than for sexual fulfillment.

And that purpose is for nourishing a baby’s life with nutrient-rich milk made especially for a baby to drink! Breasts satisfy a baby’s hunger by taking care of a baby’s growling tummy and low blood sugar. Some people think that women can choose to breastfeed– as long as they do it in private. The most common retort to breastfeeding in public settings is “Why can’t you do that in the BATHROOM? ” Now I have a question for you: Who in here eats their meals in the bathroom? Is this an appetizing thought?

I dare you to swing by Mickey D’s, grab a Happy Meal for your child and take it to the bathroom for him/her to chow down. That would be nauseatingly gross. Why would a conscientious, loving mother choose to feed her baby ANYTHING in a bathroom, breast milk or even bottled milk, where people may be using the toilet, stinking up the bathroom to a less than fresh aroma? I have a friend who once had this philosophy, until she had children of her own. Now she is horrified at that idea, and has most certainly changed her mind.

How gross and insensitive for someone to suggest or insist on a mother feeding her baby in a restroom. Eating in a restroom is a ridiculous idea, repulsive at best, especially a public restroom. The most effective and efficient way for a mother to breastfeed in public without “showing skin” is to wear a nursing cover. A woman can breastfeed and never expose her breasts to the public. She can breastfeed and still be modest and discreet. In fact, it is very considerate for a nursing mother to wear a nursing cover while breastfeeding in public.

It keeps her properly covered. Breastfeeding women can choose a wide variety of nursing covers readily available online or even at Target or Wal-Mart. Wearing a nursing cover while breastfeeding helps prevent the woman from being accidentally or not displaying her breasts, and helps keep the public from responding uncomfortably. Wearing a nursing cover is courteous, and the cover enables the mom to feed her baby appropriately wherever and whenever the baby needs to eat.

The advantages of breastfeeding far outweigh the convenience and expense of bottle feeding, too, in public or in private settings, so for many women, breastfeeding in public is a must. Another option for a breastfeeding mother is to pump her milk before she leaves home and put the milk in a bottle for her baby to eat in public. That way the baby can still receive the nutrients of the breast milk that he or she is accustomed to drinking. I have a friend who chooses this option for feeding her normally breastfed baby in public, and it works for her and her baby.

However, keep in mind that a baby may not take the milk from a bottle due to various reasons, so it may not be a viable solution. It would be a case by case scenario, and it would have to be the woman’s choice to do so. There is no compelling reason for women to have to breastfeed their babies in private settings exclusively. With a large percentage of women choosing to breastfeed, it is illogical and unnecessary to expect or require a woman to nurse only in private. When we are hungry, we eat, without criticism, whether in public or private, and babies deserve this same right!

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Women Have the Right to Breastfeed in Public Places. (2016, Oct 04). Retrieved from


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