Friday, July 9, 2010


Welcome to the July 2010 Carnival of Nursing in Public

This post was written for inclusion in the Carnival of Nursing in Public hosted by Dionna and Paige at All week, July 5-9, we will be featuring articles and posts about nursing in public ("NIP"). See the bottom of this post for more information.


I consider myself a moderate person in most senses of the word. I would not normally consider myself an activist. But when it comes to nursing, particularly in public, I have found myself with an increasingly strong desire to defend any and all mothers who choose to feed their child in a public place. Sometimes it is just necessary for an exclusively-breast fed child to eat while the child and his or her mother are out of the house. There are many reasons why this child could not be fed by a bottle: some breast fed babies reject bottles, particularly from their mothers (mine was one of them; he nearly never accepted a bottle from me and was reluctant with others). Other times, it is simply a chance outing that happened when the mother did not have time to pump a bottle before they left the house. Particularly when the mother stays at home with the baby, unless there is a special circumstance there is little reason to pump.

As for “covering up”, I believe that mothers have the right to breast feed in public however they and their children feel most comfortable, whether that means they use a cover or blanket or not. I have yet to see a mother who left an entire breast exposed the whole time she fed her child, as I have read on various articles’ comment sections. Most moms show at most a glimpse of nipple or anything else “risqué” before the baby is latched on, and then whatever part of the breast is visible is no more than many women show in everyday shirts. It is certainly less breast than I see at the beach or even on TV.

While I have been fortunate not to have been harassed at all for nursing in public, I have a personal memory that explains why covers should not be expected, but rather a personal choice. The summer after my son was born, I was enjoying an outdoor table at a restaurant with some friends of ours. My son was about six months old and I planned to nurse him at the table while we were having dinner. It was fairly hot that day (at least in the 80s), and there was full sun on our table, so my son protested when I went to cover him up with my nursing cover. It was not a blanket, but the cover I have is made of canvas, so it is not terribly breathable and he was starting to sweat. He actually started getting upset enough that he would not calm down to eat. I am sad to say that the best I could do at the time (still being shy about nursing uncovered in public) was to sit in the lounge area of the women’s restroom to try to feed him. I was crying in frustration myself by this time, wondering what I was doing wrong. Of course, it was just that he was hot and didn’t want to be covered up, but it’s hard not to take it personally when something that is usually second nature isn’t working the way it should. While no one was saying anything to me, I let what I perceived to be the prevailing public opinion sway my actions (i.e., women nursing in public must cover themselves up).

I am about to give birth to my second son, and if this same scenario were to present itself today, I would just remove the cover and continue trying to feed my son without it. I am now more experienced and more confident in my right as a nursing mother to feed my baby wherever, whenever and however I see fit. I believe every nursing mother (especially those just starting out and lacking the confidence of the veterans) has the same right. I am not going to flash anyone; I simply want my baby to be nourished the way he would be if we were at home. I do not believe that such a simple and natural desire is too much to ask.

Art by Erika Hastings at

Welcome to the Carnival of Nursing in Public

Please join us all week, July 5-9, as we celebrate and support breastfeeding mothers. And visit any time to connect with other breastfeeding supporters, learn more about your legal right to nurse in public, and read (and contribute!) articles about breastfeeding and N.I.P.

Do you support breastfeeding in public? Grab this badge for your blog or website to show your support and encourage others to educate themselves about the benefits of breastfeeding and the rights of breastfeeding mothers and children.

This post is just one of many being featured as part of the Carnival of Nursing in Public. Please visit our other writers each day of the Carnival. Click on the links below to see each day’s posts - new articles will be posted on the following days:

July 5 - Making Breastfeeding the Norm: Creating a Culture of Breastfeeding in a Hyper-Sexualized World

July 6 – Supporting Breastfeeding Mothers: the New, the Experienced, and the Mothers of More Than One Nursing Child

July 7 – Creating a Supportive Network: Your Stories and Celebrations of N.I.P.

July 8 – Breastfeeding: International and Religious Perspectives

July 9 – Your Legal Right to Nurse in Public, and How to Respond to Anyone Who Questions It


Dionna @ Code Name: Mama said...

Your point - that kids should be able to eat in public just as they would at home - is exactly my feelings on the subject! There is absolutely no reason why we need to have two standards for breastfeeding - one for home, one for public. Thank you for sharing your post with us!!

Danielle said...

Well said! I find myself thinking, "would YOU want to eat in a bathroom????" when I think of all the naysayers of public nursing.

Lisa C said...

People seem to think that covers are just a mild inconvenience, but they can really be a nuisance and some babies do flat out refuse to nurse under them.

paige said...

Happened to me today too - i just latched him on under the cover (barely - he didn't even want to do that) & then whipped it up so his head was out & the cover was only over my boob. i'm getting less worried about it the older i get... i'll do the best i can - but i surely have more important things (& tiny people) to worry about. Good job, K :)

Anonymous said...

Ok I get it, feeding babies.. I have 3 children.. And when your kids get over the age of 5 and then you understand that you don't have control over what they see if people don't have the respect for OTHER people children to cover up or go somewhere private. I get the whole womans right thing, but us woman on the other side have the right to choose what our children see, you don't have the right to make that choice for us.