breastfeeding in public
Julia Wykes, the mom who had a good day at Starbucks. — Photo from HuffPost.

This morning I discovered that there’s an ongoing battle over moms breastfeeding their children in public places. I understand this can be a topic of debate to some people, but I didn’t know how many types of people out there until I saw this post.

The news is, a middle-aged woman walked up to the counter of a Starbucks to complain about a mom who was breastfeeding her 5-month-old child. She asked the teen guy to ask the mom to stop doing that in public saying it was ‘disgusting’. I couldn’t find a reason why a woman, being a woman herself, could find another woman feeding her child a disgusting thing. But the news went on to a better ending.

The young man walked up to the mom to offer her a free refill and voucher for another free drink saying, “‘I’m sorry you had to deal with such unpleasantness today.”

I can only imagine what the face of that middle-aged woman was like who happened to be the only one noticing that Julia Wykes — the mom — was breastfeeding her child and wanted to draw more attention to it by shouting out loud trying to make a big deal out of it. I like the invisible punch in the face that she received. She deserved it.

But there was another story going down on the Facebook post of The Huffington Post. I suddenly discovered there were people who thought breastfeeding in public was sexually offensive and that moms should never do that. Before I go into details (I really don’t want to), I’d like to offer my opinion on this and talk about how this is heavily dependent on the culture of the society.

 Those who oppose

The people who think moms should not breastfeed in public are right in some sense. I don’t necessarily agree with their opinion, but I can see where most of them come from. In a society full of perverts (Sorry that I had to put it out like this), moms themselves will definitely feel bad when there are people in her surrounding trying to get a look of her breasts while she feeds her baby. It may be embarrassing for some women. And you can’t really prevent everyone from watching you while you’re in public.

That brings up the topic of where you are. It matters to which society you are in. Of course, it doesn’t necessarily mean which country you are in, but the neighborhood of where you want to breastfeed your baby. For example, in Bangladesh, you will almost never see women breastfeeding their children in urban areas. But head over to rural areas, it’s a common scene that women are breastfeeding their babies while doing other chores. For some reason, it’s probably considered a bad practice to breastfeed baby in a public place in urban areas. I’m talking about public places like bus stations and other events. Women usually prefer to use a feeder to feed their baby as it’s naturally uncomfortable for them. Perhaps that has something to do with the country being a conservative one.

Those who support

That brings me to the topic of breastfeeding in public in a western country. Usually the western world isn’t ‘conservative’, at least not like our country. In a country where you are free to walk around with minimal clothing (trying to avoid bad phrases here) and there’s nothing wrong in doing so, why would breastfeeding a baby should be a bad thing? I mean, it’s not like moms have to go naked in order to feed her baby. Yes, their breasts may be partly visible, but she’s doing an important thing: She’s feeding her baby. Her baby needs to be fed. There’s nothing sexy about that. It’s a very normal way of life.

There’s another debate over whether or not women should cover when breastfeeding. I suppose that depends. If you were to ask me, I’d say a thin cloth over the part that’s visible is better than no cover at all. Covering doesn’t mean the baby’s head has to be wrapped in a cloth. What I mean is, the visible part is probably better to keep covered because of the pervs walking around us.

That’s not to say you should stop feeding your baby in public place because there are dirty-minded people around us. But you should do something to avoid them too. And that’s where the people who advise to ‘cover’ come from.

An insane comparison

This is the detail that I wish I didn’t have to go to. Some people compared breastfeeding to urinating — perhaps in order to justify the reason why it shouldn’t be done in public. I don’t really know what to say to them. How can feeding a child that is required for his/her survival be compared to another bodily function that gets rid of human waste? How can urinating be ever compared to breastfeeding a baby? Did those people who make such insane comparisons grow up drinking urine? (Again, apologies for putting up like this but I’m seriously worried about how those people’s existence in the world can affect the future of it.)

Bottom line is, it’s dependent on the neighborhood and society you’re in and it’s probably best that you use your judgement. But regardless of where you are, I think you should never keep your baby hungry. And for the sake of it, use of some cover around the open part while breastfeeding the baby maybe a good idea.

Your input

With the battle still going on, I’m sure you have some opinion to share with me. Please leave your thoughts in the comments below. Do you agree that breastfeeding in public isn’t a bad thing? Do you think some cover is generally a good idea while breastfeeding in public?

2 thoughts

  1. As Muslims, where we are required to dress modestly, a cover would be ideal when breastfeeding in public places. There are so many stylish options out there.

    Ramadan Mubarak!

    PS: That baby in Starbucks story is 5 months old, not 5 years old.


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