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The Awkwardness Of Public Breastfeeding

Diane Luke
Senior Editor, TipsHire

Breastfeeding in public is one of the hottest topics debated by the community of parents. While mothers are convinced that breastfeeding in public is a fundamental right of their children, there are other people who believe that breastfeeding is an intimate act that shouldn’t take place in public. The awkwardness of public breastfeeding will be also debated in this article which will present several pros and cons.

Public breastfeeding is not only a matter of common-sense or people’s opinions, but it is also a matter of laws and regulations. In the USA, with the exception of South Dakota and Idaho states, public breastfeeding is accepted and legal. In Europe, it is legal and widely accepted as a normality in countries such as France, Germany, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, and the UK.

In many areas of Africa breastfeeding in public is legal and uncontroversial. Also in Asia, breastfeeding in public is widely accepted, excepting the Muslim countries in which only the discreet form of public breastfeeding is accepted, due to Muslims religious laws that obey women not to show intimate parts of their bodies.

Pros on public breastfeeding

  • The baby must be fed whenever he’s hungry. When eating, the baby will stop crying and everyone is happy, even the passers-by who will no longer have to hear the baby crying.
  • Young babies do not have a well-established meals schedule. They get hungry very often, every 2 or 3 hours and should not be kept waiting to be fed.
  • Breastfeeding, whether it is done in public or in private, helps to create a special bond between the mother her baby.
  • Mothers who breastfeed in public have more freedom of movement and they certainly are always ready to give her baby the best food for him.
  • Public breastfeeding is legal almost in every country. Some states have laws that protect this right, but breastfeeding is allowed and legal even in states that do not have laws in this regard.
  • Public breastfeeding is good for the society because it encourages future generations to breastfeed. Forwarding the message that breastfeeding is a natural thing the level of social tolerance regarding this practice will increase.
  • Breastfeeding in public can’t be ostentatious. Cover your baby with a blanket while breastfeeding, so you’ll show less skin, avoiding people’s remarks.
  • Breastfeeding is done for the good of the baby, not to attract the attention of the others. Women breastfeeding in public are mothers who want the best for their babies and not exhibitionists.
  • Breast milk is the best food for a baby. If so, why discussing the mothers right to show their breasts in public or not, when in fact, it is the right thing for the babies development?
  • The problem can be put in this way: what is worse, to suffer disapproving looks on others faces, or to let your baby cry of hunger?
  • If mothers would not be allowed to breastfeed in public, would risk running out of milk because milk production is adjusted according to how often a mother breastfeeds her baby.

Cons on public breastfeeding

  • It’s pretty hard to find a place for a comfortable breastfeeding, for both the mother and the baby, a special place dedicated to this activity, in order to avoid drawing the attention of the passers-by.
  • Some people are starring at women who breastfeed in public, and some even make some mean and malicious comments. They think that breastfeeding in public is just an excuse for women to show their breasts to the others, considering that public breastfeeding is an indecent or offensive gesture or even a disgusting gesture. This argument is based on the fact that women’s breasts have a sexual connotation, that does not disappear if the females breasts are when breastfeeding, a source of food for babies.
  • Other people have no problem when mothers are public breastfeeding a baby up to 1 year of age, but they think it’s inappropriate to public breastfeed a child of over 1 year, 1 year and a half. From this age, breastfeeding is no longer a mandatory activity for mothers and babies, since the babies should already be eating various solid foods. Pediatricians recommend mothers, when in public with their children, to give them a fruit or a biscuit when they’re hungry.
  • The awkwardness of public breastfeeding is directly proportional with the education and development of the countries in which the mothers are living. A statistic regarding public breastfeeding concluded that in the third-world countries and in well-developed countries the mothers have the right to public breastfeed their babies, but most of them are not admitting doing it, being afraid of others malicious remarks, harassment, or mean behavior.

By the way, harassment is the most negative effect that completes the spectrum of the awkwardness of public breastfeeding. In low-developed countries, such as the African countries or the Arabic countries, women who public breastfeed their babies are commonly harassed by men who sees them doing it. Cases of violence or even rapes caused by the public breastfeeding were recorded in low-developed countries, especially in African countries, while in Arabic countries due to the obscure Islamic views regarding women, those who public breastfeed and show too much skin than permitted, are admonished or even punished according to the laws.

The awkwardness of public breastfeeding also depends on each country’s traditions. For example, in India, there are some areas of the country where breastfeeding is regarded as a divine act and breast milk is considered a source of health given by the gods to the little babies.

No matter in which country you reside, the awkwardness of public breastfeeding must be discussed and you must know if there are laws that protect this right for you, but also to be aware of the people’s views regarding public breastfeeding.

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