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Breastfeeding in public scandalous stories: can we please move on?

It seems that every few weeks there is some new breastfeeding in public “controversy” where a woman who is nursing her child in a public space—an act that is fully protected under federal law—is told to leave, cover up, or is publicly shamed for her “behavior.” 

As a physician who cares for women and a certified lactation consultant, as well as a mom myself who has nursed in public oodles of times, I’m not sure how many of these stories I can handle without wanting to scream from the rooftops, “CAN WE PLEASE ALL GROW UP AND FOCUS ON SOMETHING ELSE?!”

Just last week there was yet another episode of Breastfeeding in Public: So Scandalous, Let’s Shame Her, and I feel compelled to address it because I think how the mom handled it was nothing short of fabulous.

She was nursing her baby at a TGI Friday’s when a stranger decided to snap a photo (without consent of her minor, which is illegal). He posted it on Facebook and Instagram and when she found out about it, her response was awesome. I highly encourage you to read it in its entirety here.

She managed to take an infuriating situation and turn it into a chance for explanation and education. She addressed point by point the most common reasons people complain about nursing in public, all of which are ridiculous because it assumes our breasts exist for sexual purposes and that nursing is any more revealing than walking by your mall’s local Victoria’s Secret.

I’m not sure I could have been as eloquent as she was, especially with how I would have felt with a stranger sharing a photo of my child on the Internet without asking permission. I’m having a difficult time trying to understand why this mom, who is just trying to feed her kid, has to deal with a grown adult who can’t look elsewhere if he doesn’t like what he sees.

America: this is not “nursing in public.” It’s just called nursing. It’s the norm all around the world. It’s why women have breasts—seriously, it’s their biological purpose! If more small kids saw this, they’d understand just how normal breastfeeding is, not get perverse ideas of the female body.

I just want to know, why are we so scandalized about this? Can we please move on and find something else to be offended by? Can we please leave the moms alone?

About Dr. Jennifer Lincoln, Bundoo OB/GYN

Dr. Jennifer Lincoln is a board-certified generalist obstetrician/gynecologist and attending physician in Portland, Oregon. She primarily works on labor and delivery and has recently been certified as an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant.

Comments

  1. There is nothing wrong with breastfeeding in public but I did just put a little lightweight blanket over me just because people would stare. And doing that hardly anyone ever even noticed, just prevented a lot of stupid remarks. It’s not hard to do but some women just dig their heels in that their not going to cave in.

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  2. FYI, It is perfectly legal to photograph someone, even a minor, if they’re in public. it’s horrible manners to do so and then post on social media shaming them, but it is still legal.

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  3. YES can we please move on? I didn’t see this story until now but how disgusting… Kudos to this Mom because I think I would have lost my mind on this man. What nerve people have to post any picture of someone else’s child, let alone a child nursing.

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