Breastfeeding question

So, I occasionally go hang out on a pregnancy forum and this discussion came up recently. A first-time mom innocently asked why a woman would choose to BF in public rather than just bringing a pumped bottle. The response from many, many people was that a mom should be able to BF anywhere, any time and that pumped bottles were inferior products to the breast.

Now, I am pro-breastfeeding and have no problem with public breastfeeding, but. I [name]DO[/name] think there are some places and times when it just isn’t appropriate and you should plan accordingly to step out and feed baby elsewhere.

I’m curious about whether I am deeply in the minority (as I appeared to be on the other forum.) What are you comfortable with yourself?

I’m not a mom myself, but I have thought about this before. I agree that mothers should be able to breastfeed their babies in public. It’s a completely natural thing and there shouldn’t be anything inappropriate or weird about it. However, I think in some situations it’s more tasteful to step out of the room or at the very least cover up. It is possible to breastfeed in public without flashing your breasts around at everyone. I personally wouldn’t be shocked or offended because nudity isn’t something that bothers me. I know that not everyone is comfortable with it though, and that is something that every mother breastfeeding in public needs to take into consideration.

I think that when baby wants to be fed then a baby should be fed regardless of where that is. Some babies won’t drink from bottles. Some women have reasons for not wanting to use bottles. Whatever. That part doesn’t matter to me. I can’t think of any situation where I would find it inappropriate. I think people are uncomfortable with it because breasts have become sexualized. If milk came out of a finger, I don’t think anyone would have a problem with it. I don’t think breast-feeding mothers should be punished for this.

I was never very comfortable feeding my daughter in public places, but I don’t see a problem with it as long as you are trying to be discrete and cover up or turn to the side some.

I will say that once when flying on an airplane, I did bring pumped bottles because sitting that close to someone I didn’t know, I wasn’t comfortable putting them in that situation either. On an airplane there is really no where else that I could have gone to feed her, or that the other person can go to give me more space/privacy. If my row was filled with family or friends though I would have had no problem nursing on the plane.

Today I was in shul for Yom Kippur services and very discretely our rebbetzin breastfed her infant daughter. I must say we have come a long way since I breastfed my daughter twenty-six years ago. Then I was in a lounge provided for publishers at the Bologna Book Fair and discretely breastfeeding my daughter when my boss came in and demanded that I go do “that” in the bathroom, which was extremely unsanitary. Happily, I don’t think that would happen today. As long as you are covered, you should be able to breastfeed wherever, whenever. Especially when the relationship is new, switching from breast to bottle to breast can disrupt the breastfeeding technique. I still can’t imagine why anyone chooses to bottle feed to begin with, when science and nature both agree breastfeeding is best for the baby and the mother.

I agree with this 100%.

It is my view that women should be able to breastfeed where ever and whenever they need to. My 2nd daughter never accepted bottled so pumping and feeding her this way was not an option for me.

Breastfeeding is how babies are meant to be fed. It’s my opinion that people in the US need to get over their cultural hang-ups regarding this.

I am currently nursing #3 and will whip it out anywhere to feed my baby. I am discreet about it and nothing really shows. I figure it is better to nurse in public than for people to hear a crying baby. As for pumping, I find it a pain. I understand why women do it when they need to be away from their babies, but I’d rather my baby get it right from the source.

For me it’s more about having one less thing to bring. I don’t have to worry if I forgot a bottle, since my daughters source of food, is always with me.

Thanks for the replies so far. I’m certainly not prudish or anything, but I guess I do have a different attitude/action than other people. I would breastfeed discreetly in a booth at a restaurant, but I can’t breastfeed in church or anywhere else that might be quiet with a large group of people. I’m super non-confrontational and would rather be uncomfortable (as in leave to breastfeed elsewhere) than make people around me uncomfortable. I’m also not very good at being discreet!

I’ll try to remember that lots of people would think I’m being silly for hesitating to whip it out!

Although I do have to add that my breasts were sexual for me personally long before they were food sources. I had a hard time viewing breasts in any other way and I think it isn’t unreasonable for them to be treated that way by people who haven’t been parents. The sensuality of breasts has been recognized since civilization began–it isn’t just an American sensibility.

I have breast feed four babies, two of which overlapped and I was breast feeding a 12 month old and a 1 month old at the same time. So my opinion is purely based on what is easiest for me and that happens to be not having to bring anything else but my babies and my boobs. I cover up so no one sees but I am completely comfortable breastfeeding in public and if someone else has a problem with it even though I am covered they can look somewhere else because I am giving my baby the food and nutrition he needs to survive and I am not going to let him go hungry because someone doesn’t like it. I think that breasts have been completely sexualized but the real, original meaning for them was to provide food and that is what I intend to do with them.

It’s never inappropriate to breastfeed a baby or toddler in public. Breasts exist to feed babies. Babies are born to breastfeed. That’s it, that’s all.

I think that you have to feed your baby when he or she needs it. The only place I can think of that it would be totally inappropriate is like in the middle of a business meeting or something. :slight_smile: I always try to be courteous that I am not making ppl super uncomfortable - - but most people if you just tell them, I have to feed my kid, I hope that’s not awkward… and then keep all your parts as covered as possible - I have found that just having it in the open makes people feel less uncomfortable.
In our church - there is a room for moms to nurse where they can still here the message - which is more for their privacy as you sometimes feel awkward and the baby may disrobe you - but I know no one would think twice to feed their baby in the pew if they felt like it! But then, we have lots of young families in our church so there’s babies everywhere. :slight_smile: In our weekly evening small group, at first it was a bit awkward when I started nursing - but we were the first with kids. Now we’re on like baby #5 between all of us and I have been round-a-bout-ly thanked bye some of the men for getting them “used to it” and not making them uncomfortable. I’m a firm believer that if you think something might be awkward, you can talk about it! I am not a “whip it out” for all to see person though, because I am not comfortable with that. So just go with your comfort level - you don’t have to be ashamed if you are embarrassed to nurse in the wide open spaces with lots of people. There is no rule that says you must flaunt your motherhood beyond your comfort level - but if you are comfortable and considerate, there’s no need to fret that you will offend someone.

Okay, I’m not a mom. But as a woman, I just don’t understand why women WANT to breastfeed in public. From a convenience standpoint, I suppose it makes sense to not have to find a bathroom or something. But I personally would be incredibly uncomfortable exposing myself that way in public, and it certainly makes me uncomfortable to watch it happen. Maybe my opinion will change if I become a mother, but right now I’d say a big no.

[name]How[/name] would you feed a baby in a bathroom? Would you sit on a toilet to feed a baby? Woul you personally eat your lunch in the bathroom? Have you heard of bacteria?

Babies should be fed when they are hungry, which occurs every 2 to 3 hours. [name]How[/name] one feeds their own baby is really up to them and them alone. With attitudes such as yours, it is no wonder some mothers still have trouble fulfilling their babies needs when and where ever needed.

I don’t want you to take this the wrong way, but I can tell from your post that you aren’t a mother and that you have very little understanding of what’s actually involved in breastfeeding. I don’t mean to disparage you. Before I became a mother, I had similar feelings so I can understand where you are coming from. But then I had a baby, and I started to breastfeed her. Breastfeeding in public has to be acceptable in order for women to be successful at it. It’s not a “want” - it’s simply necessary. Babies need to eat frequently, and, when they are accustomed to nursing at the breast, this is where is has to happen. I’ve seen alternatives thrown out all the time - “just use a cover,” “nurse in the bathroom,” “bring a pumped bottle” - but, for someone who really understands breastfeeding, they would also understand that these are not always viable options.

I really would like to see more of an atmosphere of support among women - support for each other and each other’s choices. In this case, what you see is a mother doing one of the best things for her baby by feeding her at the breast. It’s a mother nurturing her baby. What’s wrong with swallowing your own discomfort when you come across something like this?

I think most everything has been said, and been said well, so I’ll just address a few arguments I’ve heard against breastfeeding in public:

“[name]Just[/name] use a cover,” - While I always cover myself as much as I possible can (I’ve never flashed a nipple), many babies will not nurse under a cover. It can be hot, it’s definitely darker, and unless you nurse under a cover every time at home, your baby won’t be used to it. As they get older, they’ll simply tug the cover off. I always figured covering the baby was what I would do - until I had a baby who would not nurse if he couldn’t see the outside world at the same time.

“Pump and use a bottle.” First, while breast milk in a bottle is always better than formula, it is inferior to milk straight from the breast. It loses antibodies and nutrients the moment it hits the air. Fat from the milk clings to the bottle and doesn’t make it to the baby. But besides all that, some of us just aren’t great pumpers, and we also don’t want to be bothered with storing perishable breast milk and then reheating it on the go. It’s like asking someone to bring all the utensils and ingredients to make sandwich on the road instead of letting them pick one up at a drive-thru.

“[name]Do[/name] it at home.” What a great idea! If only babies didn’t have to eat every few hours, and all women were OK with not leaving their house for about six months.

“[name]Just[/name] nurse in the bathroom.” If I hear this one more time I might scream. Where exactly does one nurse in a bathroom? Sitting on the toilet? The floor? Eat your lunch sitting on a public toilet tomorrow and then get back to me on whether you think it’s still an appropriate place to feed a baby.

I have absolutely no problem with a mother breastfeeding her child anywhere - at church, on the bus, on a park bench, on an aeroplane. All she is doing is meeting her baby’s needs. If she feels better feeding with a cover, that’s fine by me - but personally I would never use one and don’t think they are necessary.

As for bringing pumped bottles, I find that suggestion a bit ridiculous. Some mothers cannot pump even when they have a good milk supply, because milk production is hormonally driven. Breastfeeding at the breast is preferable to feeding breastmilk in a bottle, because of the skin-to-skin benefits of direct feeding. Bottles can cause nipple confusion and hinder the breastfeeding relationship. Babies can not regulate their appetite as well with bottles as with breasts. Pumping is hard work and time consuming, and pumped milk needs to be taken care of and disposed of if kept at room temperature for too long. Why on earth would you bother when you have your breasts right there?

Again, if a woman wants or needs to - whatever. But to suggest that as a better alternative for most nursing mothers? No.

[name]Just[/name] wanted to chime in with one more reason that a mom might not pump a bottle–I personally had severe problems with mastitis and plugged milk ducts whenever I pumped, so health-wise it really wasn’t an option for me. Despite growing up with my own mom very pro-breastfeeding, I was uncomfortable breastfeeding in public at first, but when I couldn’t pump and my daughter even at about six weeks old refused to nurse with a cover, I had to get used to it very quickly! Knowing some of the objections people have to it, though, it is really a struggle not to feel selfconscious in a group of strangers. (I am a shy person by nature.)

Also some additional information in response to the “just do it before you leave the house” argument–when people tell you that babies nurse every three hours that might seem like plenty of time to get out and do something and then get home. However, as you discover with your first newborn, the feeding isn’t instantaneous–it can take about half an hour! And then the baby inevitably has a dirty diaper, so you have to change that. So say you want to leave the house at 2:00. [name]Baby[/name] has to be ready to nurse at exactly 1:15, nurse for half an hour, to change the diaper allow 10 minutes, get your purse and keys and shoes and diaper bag, and stroller, buckle baby into the car seat, leave at 2:00. BUT then your three hour mark is 4:15, not 5:00! By the time you drive somewhere and spend just a little time, you’d need to drive home because baby needs to nurse again. And sometimes they want to nurse more like every 90 minutes…if you can’t nurse in public you really can’t leave the house.

So I’m saying it’s less about what you personally feel comfortable with, and more about what do you have to make yourself become comfortable with? It isn’t as much of a choice as one might think, which is why we really need the support of other women (and men)!

Strophe- it’s not mom’s are just itching to get out and breatfeed in public and “expose” themselves. What we want to do is be a Mom…that includes caring for and feeding a baby and babies don’t necesarrily stick to a schedule. Sometimes they need to eat every 30 minutes for 2 minutes… Sometimes it’s every 3 hours for an hour. Breast milk straight from the source is the best thing that we can offer our babies and it’s amazing how priorities change when you become a mom. If my baby is nourished, happy and breastfed, then I could care less if someone sees my breast, love handles or nipple. The more women breastfeed in public, the less itis going to offend anyone.

I agree with all the pro breast feeding comments. I nursed my daughter for 2.5 years and only stopped because I needed to take steroid medication that would be passed into my milk. I am pregnant again and plan on nursing this one as long as they desire. That being said, I unfortunately never felt comfortable nursing in public as my daughter did not like having her head covered and did not even like to feel clothing anywhere near my breast! She had a great habit of trying to liftup my shirt so I was totally exposed! I also had to endure people staring, shaking heads, tutting, etc and although I knew what I was doing was best for my baby I never had the confidence to really go for it in public which made it incredibly difficult to go anywhere.
As for the pumping into a bottle question, like previous posters have said, my daughter never took to a bottle- so that option was out.
This time, 6 years on, I feel that I have the maturity to say “screw it, I’m feeding my baby no matter what looks I get” but I can empathize with women that feel very uncomfortable doing so. We still have a long way to go in changing attitudes.
Incidentally, there is a young woman that I work with that knows I’m pregnant and recently said that she though breast feeding was “disgusting” and couldn’t imagine" letting a baby suck on her (very large, fake) boobs" she is 10 years younger than me so I found the comment even more sad and depressing as you would hope that younger people would be more open to it.