Friday’s post on The PediaBlog by Dr. Donnelly (“A Kind Note”) hit a nerve among our readers:

I nurse my baby wherever we are. Her needs are more important that others’ sensibilities. Of course I try not to bare it all, but I don’t use a cover. My former pastor once told me not to worry about nursing in public- just take care of the baby where we were and to use a cover only if it helped *me* feel more comfortable about it. I think that’s a great attitude.



I breastfed in public with my 2 kids and it has always been something I was very proud of. But I will say that my babies always did better in private with no noises or distractions around. So there were many times I specifically went to a private area so my baby would pay attention and eat!


This reader asks for a little discretion:

I breast fed all three of my children for nine months. I was one of those who worried about what others might think when breast feeding in public. I would go into a bathroom, go to my car or find a private and discreet place to feed them. I covered myself with a blanket even when I was in a bathroom or my car or a private room. I was comfortable doing it that way. Now today there are these very pretty covers that you can use when breastfeeding and I think they are wonderful. But when I see someone sitting in a public place with no regard for others, not caring how much they are showing, not trying in any way to shield their breasts or be discreet – then I have a big problem with it. It is uncomfortable for me….and I’m a woman! What about the men, the teen age boy with hormones raging, the young child who is staring and asking questions? These women turn a very beautiful, natural and private experience with their baby into a public show. These are the women that are causing the issues. Not the women who use the covers and try to be discreet.

So while I consider myself a proponent of breastfeeding, I feel that nursing moms should be respectful of others. I know that you can breastfeed your baby at his/her demand and do it in a guarded and private way without making others uncomfortable. I know that when done quietly and using a cover, the breastfeeding would go virtually unnoticed. And, in my opinion, that’s the way it should be done.


This reader disagrees that the nursing mother is to blame:

The people that are “causing the issues”, as you say, though I’m not sure what “issues” you refer to, are actually doing a great job of bringing breastfeeding out of the bathroom and into public.   The aim is to make it become normal in society’s eyes, rather than shameful or sexual (or a “show”, as you say). They do so in order to gradually shift society’s attitudes about BF out of the Victorian age and into the present. Attitudes like yours still have a long way to go, baby.


Another nods in agreement:

I breastfed my child for a couple years. I usually ended up in a bathroom stall or in my car because I felt breastfeeding was not accepted in public by many people.
This memory makes me sad. Shame on our culture for making a perfectly natural action unacceptable in public. Shame on our obsession with breasts as sexual objects. We perpetuate women’s bodies as sexual objects by not accepting public breastfeeding, in my opinion. Certainly there are ways to breastfeed in public with discretion, but in a better world this wouldn’t even be an issue. What a wonderful idea shared in this article: reward nursing mothers for breastfeeding in public.


A reader sends a comment via Facebook:

 I nursed all 3 of my kids in public, and while I did get a few rude stares, I also got complimentary/encouraging comments from other moms!


I’ll give this mom the last word:

Breastfeeding is one of best things a mother can do for her child. Any woman, who breastfeeds for any length of time, should be commended.

I’ve been blessed to breastfeed two children — my first child nursed until 26 months and self weaned. My 17-month-old is still nursing and we will likely follow her lead in weaning.

With my first child, I was overly-conscious. I hid in restrooms, dressing rooms and my hot car just to make other people more comfortable. I was lucky to have one of those lovely nursing covers that you mention, but my child would not nurse while it was covering us. I didn’t blame her; I wouldn’t want to eat with a blanket over my head, either. And quite honestly, the cover was dreadfully hot for both of us; we’d both end up sweaty and frustrated. So, we scampered off to “private places” as to not offend anyone else.

I don’t know if it’s being a few years older and wiser, but I nurse my second child when she wants, where she wants. We have nursed at the mall, on the subway, in church (once WHILE receiving Eucharist!), at festivals, etc. We do not use a cover for the aforementioned reasons, although I love cudding her in a blanket during the winter. However, I am completely covered and discreet. In fact, I bet that our nursing sessions are less noticeable by passerbys than the women who mask their babies and their bodies with a huge tent-like apparatus. Any skin that might be visible while quickly latching is less of a show that what is seen on our beaches today. I refuse to retreat to a hot car or small, smelly restroom because my child NEEDS to eat. Her needs trump everyone elses’ feelings about breastfeeding.

I think our culture has a warped view of handling things that we find repulsive. We live in a culture where we support people who people scream “My body, My Choice!” yet attempt to shame breastfeeding women who are doing something that they feel to be a very personal and important choice. Our women run to the malls to buy revealing clothing (that covers much less than is ever seen during breastfeeding) and we celebrate nudity and overt sexuality (have you walked by a Victoria’s Secret store?). We buy our elementary-aged daughters teeny-tiny bikinis with words like “Sassy” slapped across the bottoms. We teach our youth that it’s okay to have sexual relations at any age, with whoever you want, as long as it’s in the name of “experimentation” and some sort of prophylactic or contraception is used. Yet, we demand “modesty and decency” when a young mother quickly (and often frantically) tries to bring a infant to her breast to nurse. I don’t get it.

I’m certainly not attempting to be argumentative, but I admit that it is bothersome that we look the other way at so many deviant behaviors in this world yet get so offended by a breastfeeding mother. I personally find it disgusting when people talk with their mouths open in a public place, but I realize that I have no right to order them to a restroom or car to finish their meals.

Breastfeeding is demanding of the mother. It’s so easy (no warming bottles!) yet so hard at times (every 2 hours, around the clock for infants). I personally feel that any attempts to shame women in doing something natural and ultimately necessary is so harmful.

I keep hearing about these women sitting around in nude drum circles and parading their bare breasts, but I’ve yet to see it. I’ve seen plenty of mothers sitting under nursing covers and mothers without those covers showing maybe an inch of skin between the nipple and their shirts. Neither is reprehensible. I agree that modesty is important, but I feel that this is something that our society has lost. Unless a woman is sitting completely topsless in a public place, we should let her and her nursing infant alone. That mother is no doubt doing the best she can. She’s probably tired, hungry, and worrying that everyone around her is judging her for feeding her child. She doesn’t need dirty stares, shaking heads, or pointing fingers. So, let’s encourage her with a friendly smile, and a whisper of “Good job, Mom.” If women feel encouraged and empowered by breastfeeding, they’ll only be even better mothers, which is what’s really important.