Thoughts on Nursing in Public

On December 28th we joined together with thousands of mothers and supporters for a nurse-in that took place at Target stores nationwide.  A month prior to the nurse-in, a local mother was harassed for nursing her baby at Target.  When she called corporate to express her displeasure with her treatment, she was further harassed.  The nurse-in is akin to the sit-in.  It is a peaceful demonstration meant to show the determination of participants to stand up for their rights.  The intention was not to punish Target but to raise awareness.

Many will say that this is about a mother’s right to nurse her baby in public but the reality is that it is a much deeper and bigger issue than that.  Just like babies have a right to be loved, nurtured, and cared for, babies have a right to eat when they are hungry.  A hungry baby should not be made to wait and no one but the parents of said baby should have the right to dictate how that baby is to be fed.  Our society has such a fascination with breasts as sexual objects that it has forgotten why they are there in the first place.

Humans are mammals.  The biological function of the breast is to make milk to feed our offspring.  Nursing is normal.  Breasts are not genitals.  Nursing should not be hidden any more than bottle feeding should be hidden.  I have heard many say that they support nursing in public as long as the mother “covers up”.  Placing conditions on your support is not supportive.  Some mothers choose to cover, some babies refuse to be covered.  A cover should never be required for the comfort of anyone other than the mother doing the feeding.

Breastfeeding is not to be banished to the bathroom.  I don’t know anyone that would care to eat a meal in a bathroom.  Public restrooms are no place for anyone to eat, especially a baby.  Jessica of The Leaky B@@b wrote a wonderful blog post about why feeding a baby is in no way related to the passing of bodily waste or sexual activity that can be found here.

It all comes down to this:

All babies have the right to be fed when they are hungry and all parents have the right to feed their children in the way they see fit, without conditions being placed on them.  Mothers should never be harassed for bottle feeding their babies just like mothers should never be harassed for nursing their babies.  Babies and parents should have equal rights no matter what feeding choices have been made.

Being a mother is the toughest and most rewarding job I have ever had.  All mothers deserve support.  We encourage everyone to make informed choices and to respect the choices of others.