What People Really Think About Breastfeeding {UPDATE}

Beyonce with baby Blue Ivy

I’ve noticed that people stare a little too long and look a little uncomfortable when I breastfeed Monkey #2 in public. I always wonder if it is my imagination or whether their really is some sort of disconnect in North America (or where I’ve been in New York to be exact) between breastfeeding being natural and what people really think about breastfeeding.

CBS New York posted this article about Beyonce breastfeeding Blue Ivy in public and the comments are flabbergasting. People equating breastfeeding to urinating, and if we are saying breastfeeding is allowed in the open then urinating should be too! Seriously? Why are people so affronted by a mother nursing her child at the table where she eats with her husband? How have the social norms around breastfeeding shifted so much that people feel disgusted by the sight of a woman breastfeeding her child? I have so many questions here, because I am at a loss as to why society makes nursing mothers feel like pariahs who should stay home and if they do intend to nurse at say a restaurant, then they should hide out in a stall. Filthy bathroom stalls that are sometimes even unfit to urinate in. Really?

I like to see when restaurants and stores have a comfortable area for mothers to nurse. It shows that they know their clientele and are dedicated to making them comfortable. Some women are not comfortable nursing in public, so a dedicated lactation room is a very nice thing to have on offer. But, I want everyone to understand that I have the right to nurse (respectfully) wherever I want to even if there is a lactation room.

Have you had a positive experience nursing in public?

UPDATE: At the same time I was writing this article, another black female blogger was writing about Beyonce being spotted breastfeeding from a different perspective. Read more about What Onica and Kimberley have to say about Black women and breastfeeding. It’s an important message that I had not considered. 

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13 Responses to What People Really Think About Breastfeeding {UPDATE}
  1. Sarah @ East9thStreet
    March 5, 2012 | 2:37 pm

    I didn’t nurse for that long and I wouldn’t have nursed in public (if I left my house during that time period) as I was too uncoordinated with the whole process and I’m extremely shy when it comes to showing any part of my body. However, I’ve had friends who breastfeed in public and yes, they get looks but mostly it’s smiles from other moms who understand and support.
    Sarah @ East9thStreet recently posted..Another Kid-Friendly Place To Stay: Nickelodeon Suites ResortMy Profile

  2. Kathleen
    Twitter: callista83
    March 5, 2012 | 3:26 pm

    I nurse in public all the time with minimal problems. I don’t show all though. I don’t cover up but I keep my shirt covering as much of my breast as possible. Often people don’t even notice what I’m doing. I think it’s funny actually watching people trying not to watch me. Then there are the people who come up and pat baby’s head and THEN realize what you are doing and get all red faced and apologize lol!
    Kathleen recently posted..5 Ideas for a Fun and Memorable March Break #KinderMomMy Profile

    • Ghada V
      Twitter: OMGhada
      March 5, 2012 | 10:23 pm

      I’ve had friends come in for a hug not realizing what I’m doing lol. I completely agree that there does need to be decorum on the nursing mothers part. I think for the most part, us modern ladies don’t ever intentionally try to be overexposed. It’s not about putting it in people’s faces. We’re just trying to get on and feed a baby!

  3. olfa at OurFamilyWorld
    March 5, 2012 | 4:33 pm

    I have always breastfed in public with a nursing cover. I have never had remarks or anything. People understand that and help you with whatever they can.
    olfa at OurFamilyWorld recently posted..Lego Duplo challenge: Play Make and BakeMy Profile

    • Ghada V
      Twitter: OMGhada
      March 5, 2012 | 10:21 pm

      Great to hear you’ve had a good experience.

  4. Leila
    March 5, 2012 | 5:30 pm

    I was recently speaking with someone about this and the unfortunate thing is the female breasts have become a “sexual” device rather than what they were intended for- to feed nutrients to our children. Because of the sexualization surrounding breasts, people have a more difficult time accepting it. Sad to say, but until society can become less ignorant (which I do not forsee happening anytime soon), there will always be a problem with us mommy’s who choose to provide natural nutrition for our children.
    Leila recently posted..Dr. Seuss Giveaway!My Profile

    • Ghada V
      Twitter: OMGhada
      March 5, 2012 | 10:20 pm

      Leila, you’ve completely hit the nail on the head! Thanks for the comment.

  5. Gena
    March 5, 2012 | 10:08 pm

    I was going to blog about this, too, but a kind of different approach. I just want to know why people make SUCH a big deal out of breastfeeding celebrities? They act like they’re the first people…ever…to breastfeed in public! I’m proud of the women who BF in public, because I could never bring myself to do it. I even went into a nasty bathroom to BF before and it was awful. Breastfeeding is natural and should be celebrated! I don’t see why the media is making such a big deal about it??

    • Ghada V
      Twitter: OMGhada
      March 5, 2012 | 10:19 pm

      I don’t really care that it is Beyonce in the article as such, unfortunately media always glorifies celebrities and the masses only take notice when a celebrity is involved. Sure we all have our hang ups and different levels of comfort about breastfeeding in public, but I hate that other people’s views/disgust/thoughts that it should not be done in public make people hide away to do it.
      What caught me about the article was people’s reaction to someone nursing in public.
      You should still write your post :)

      • Gena
        March 6, 2012 | 11:33 am

        yeah, you’re totally right! It’s sad that some people make us mothers feel like we can’t feed our babies wherever we are when they’re HUNGRY!

  6. Char
    March 6, 2012 | 4:58 pm

    My first son was born with a cleft lip, so you can’t really breast feed with that. But I did pump and a nurse showed me how to hold his mouth shut so he could create suction. And it worked!
    With my second son, I did not breast feed in public. I’m way to shy about my body to do that…..but since I didn’t go out in public too much with him, it wasn’t an issue.
    I live in a small town, and if I had breast fed in public, I’m sure I’d get stares and snickers. Which is too bad!

  7. Mary Dailey
    March 20, 2012 | 7:38 am

    I honestly think American men look at breasts in more of a sexual way than men in other countries. If the woman is not using a cover, and the baby slips off the nipple, the mother is exposed and I think some American men are hoping to get a glimpse. If you go to a topless beach, who is staring at the women? It’s sure not the locals.

  8. Becky Schollian
    May 2, 2013 | 12:35 pm

    I think it’s wonderful that Beyonce has not hid the fact that she breast feeds!!It allows us to see her as a human & a loving caring mom not just a celebrity!! With my daughters first baby she breast fed. We were in a Starbucks having our favorite drinks, visiting. It was feeding time so my daughter started to breast feed. A woman was so uncomfortable about this she asked my daughter if she could please do that some where else. A manager heard this and told the woman nicely “She has a right to feed her child here just as you have the right to leave if it offends you so!” Priceless!!! I see more businesses today opening there doors to make breast feeding families more welcome

KiwiCanadian expat adventures with my husband and 2 kids from life in New Zealand to New York and back again. Adventures in inspired family living, travel, health & fitness.Read More »