Nursing in Public: Practical or Gross?

By Shannon Gosney
In Blogging Randomness
October 24, 2009

Before I had kids, I had no idea how important and beneficial breastfeeding truly was!  I’d studied that it was very beneficial to both the baby and the mother, but didn’t understand how it would help a mother and child bond or other benefits that were realized once I breastfed my own kids.

Early in our marriage, my husband and I attended a Construction Convention in Vegas.  We were in a restaurant eating our food from the buffet counter and were sitting directly across from a family with a nursing mother and baby, her husband, and 2 other little kids.  I was facing the mother.  She was nursing her child with no blanket or anything.  OK, no biggie – I mean she could have been wearing a blanket or something, but whatever.  I wasn’t offended by it.  It was natural.  However, within the next few minutes, she began to yell at one of her kids and put the child down.  After removing the child from her breast, she did not pr0ceed to cover herself up, but rather sat there with one boob fully exposed.  Oh my gosh!  

I believe that breastfeeding is natural and beneficial, for both baby and mother.  I know that this is why we have breasts – to feed our children when they are little.  OK, so she didn’t have a blanket – that’s no biggie.  But to sit there with one breast fully exposed while you draw attention to yourself yelling at your kids?  Not cool at all!

There have been times when I’ve had a crying baby and had to sit on the bench in the back of the Target store trying to nurse him.  I didn’t have a blanket or hooter hider, but made it work.  I tried to not draw attention to myself and went as quickly as possible.  I have nursed in the bathroom before on the chair in the “mother’s section,” but prefer to not do that in public restrooms (the one at church is an exception) because they “feel” dirty (and sometimes smell really bad).  I have also draped a jacket or spit-up cloth over my should while nursing.  Heck, I even nursed one of my kids in the dressing room at Wal-Mart, but I have never run around with one boob in the air drawing attention to myself.

The bottom line is that there will be times and places when nursing your child may not feel convenient or practical, but we make it work.  What are your thoughts?  Do you have a story to share?

**On another note, I know that not all mothers can breastfeed their babies and hope that this post does not make them feel bad or excluded.  Also, I was not compensated in any way for writing this post.**

About Has 4152 Posts

Shannon Gurnee is the author of RedheadMom formerly "The Mommy-Files", a national blog with a loyal following. She has a Bachelor's Degree in Marriage, Family, and Human Development with a Minor in Business Management. Shannon and her husband, Frank, have a large family with 6 awesome kids and love living on the Central Coast near San Luis Obispo, California, as well as traveling around the world. A full-time Social Media and Professional Blogger, Shannon also serves as a National Brand Ambassador for many well-known companies. Her blog focuses on motherhood, family fun activities, traveling, fashion, beauty, technology, wedding ideas and recipes while providing professional opinions on products, performances, restaurants, and a variety of businesses.

13 Responses to “Nursing in Public: Practical or Gross?”

  1. gosfam says:

    I think Breastfeeding is GREAT–I nursed both my girls. I also had to nurse in public more then once. There are ways to be discreet, and I think that is the most important thing. Never to be too exposed.

  2. I don’t have a problem with anyone nursing in public. I’ve done it before too- sometimes you have no choice! When your baby is hungry you’ve got to feed him/her! I do, however think it’s appropriate to cover up. I have used a blanket/shirt/sweater before.. i would never let one boob be fully exposed!

  3. Cynthia M. says:

    I see breastfeeding as natural and don’t have a problem when mothers do that in public. Most women cover up, either with a blanket or somehow with their own clothes. I’ve been taken aback before when I see mothers suddenly expose a breast to feed their child, disregarding the men and women surrounding them. I think it’s polite to try your best to cover up, especially in public, so that you don’t make other people uncomfortable.

  4. Kris says:

    I agree Shannon. I have a 6 week old now that I’m breastfeeding and I think its great. There have been times where I’ve been out running errands where the baby just decides she’s hungry and you really have no choice.

    However, I do agree that discretion is key. I’m not saying you should have to hide in a nasty public bathroom just to make other people feel comfortable but I think that if I’m in a place where I wouldn’t have whipped out my entire exposed breast before I had a baby, it probably isn’t a place I should be whipping it out after. If you’re in the middle of a crowded food court at the mall or on an airplane, just find a way to be discreet with a blanket or something. Again, I’m not saying hide the fact that you’re breastfeeding, I’m saying cover up your exposed breast and nipple.

  5. Aline says:

    I don’t have a problem at all with women breast feeding in public as long as they are modest about it and cover up. I’m a nurse and see tons of body parts in the hospital, but I still can’t get used to a person whipping out their boob in public to feed a child without covering up. I guess it’s the context and breasts have many connotations in our society. Hope this didn’t sound too old fashion.

  6. Lori Z. says:

    It wouldn’t gross me out were I to see a woman with her boob fully exposed, but that’s not saying others wouldn’t be. Obviously it’s polite to consider other people’s feelings, and sitting around with it out in the open is an extreme statement of “I’m breastfeeding deal with it”, though I do think you don’t have to be overly considerate. No need to go off and find a isolated place or a tent or anything.

  7. Kayla says:

    I think it’s natural and beautiful and I take offense that people have such problems with it-Of course if they want to be considerate, then that’s up to them, but I honestly believe it’s the mother’s right to breastfeed in public.

  8. Badger Momma says:

    I guess I would be considered a breast feeding advocate. I’ve breast fed all three of my children. However, I will say that although it is not necessary to cover up while breast feeding, I think it certainly is a no-no to expose yourself in such a way as you’ve explained.

  9. Tracy says:

    I also feel that you can do it discretely but not feel like you need to hide.

  10. Lin says:

    I’m not a mom so I really dont think I can have too much of an opinion on this but I agree with you.

    I think it’s up to a woman to decide whether or not they want to drape a blanket or something over them, although I’m sure most would prefer it. Good post!

  11. jeanine says:

    i always cover up as best i can when feeding in public (i’m currently bf’ing my 4th baby) but that is out of my own comfort and preference. if someone else doesn’t feel the need, as long as nipple isn’t shown, i have no problem with it. the question to ask yourself in this situation is: what is the difference between a woman with her breast exposed to feed her child and a woman with a low cut revealing shirt (which you can see on any given day in just about any situation these days)??

  12. Meghann says:

    I’m nursing my daughter (she’s my first), so nursing in public has taken some getting used to. It wasn’t such a problem when she was a newborn, because we could just quietly go about our business, but now that she’s 6 months old, she’s much more active and likes to whip the nursing cover up, and she’s so easily distracted. I prefer to be covered, and I always feel like it’s a wrestling match. I imagine we’ve flashed some poor unsuspecting person at some point, but what can you do? 🙂

  13. I agree with you completely… I do not mind either when mothers breastfeed in public as long as they are discreet, covering up is not that difficult and can do a lot to make others more comfortable. Although I could only nurse my oldest for two weeks because of problems, I was very discreet when doing so in public.

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