Breastfeeding is a natural process, but for some reason it’s still seen as controversial by some — especially when it comes to nursing in public. One woman complained on Facebook about just that, and what she’d do to women she saw doing it, and she’s now getting blasted for it.
“I’m not sorry- The next female that tries to whip her boob out to breastfeed in front of my kids will get a black eye, move that baby bc I’ll punch it too. #zerocare #why #inpublicletsjustshowkidsboobs #notmine,” Carly Clark wrote.
Plenty of people are really not having it:
Breastfeeding in public is still a sticking point for some people, some of whom may even try to tell a woman that she can’t do it. But the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health makes a point of saying on its website that moms “have the right to breastfeed your baby wherever and whenever your baby is hungry. There are laws that protect breastfeeding mothers.”
It’s also just normal and necessary, Leigh Anne O’Connor, board-certified lactation consultant and La Leche League leader, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. Breastfeeding happens on a supply-and-demand basis, and a mom often needs to do frequent, small feedings to keep her milk supply up, keep her baby happy and healthy, and prevent engorgement or a possible infection, O’Connor says.
“When a baby is hungry, the better thing to be able to do is to be able to feed and nourish the baby,” Diane L. Spatz, PhD, a professor of perinatal nursing at the University of Pennsylvania and nurse researcher at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “Most people would prefer to be around a baby who is happy and satiated vs. a baby who is hungry, screaming, and crying.”
Babies eat frequently, often every one to three hours, and “it’s unlikely that a mom is going to be able to breastfeed at home at all times,” Spatz says. “There’s no reason a mom shouldn’t be able to breastfeed her baby in public any time, any place that she likes.”
“The biggest problem we’ve had is that breastfeeding hasn’t been the norm for too long,” Joanne Goldbort, PhD, RN, a breastfeeding researcher and assistant professor in the College of Nursing at Michigan State University, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “Breasts have been sexualized and when women breastfeed in public it’s often looked upon as she’s exposing herself. It’s frustrating.” However, Goldbort points out, most women are pretty discrete about it.
“I recommend people find a comfortable place to sit, same as they would if they were feeding their baby a bottle, and simply nurse their baby without any fanfare,” O’Connor says. “The more people nurse in public, the more accepted it will be.”
Some moms don’t care what anyone has to say about breastfeeding in public but others are a little more nervous, Spatz says. If you don’t feel completely comfortable with it, she recommends taking baby steps, like going to a nursing mom’s group and breastfeeding your baby there or visiting a business that advertises itself as being breastfeeding friendly. If none of those are an option, simply doing it in front of a mirror at home can also help make you feel more comfortable, Spatz says. Also, know this: “Once you get the hang of it, nobody is going to see anything,” she says.
If you’re nervous about nursing in public, O’Connor recommends surrounding yourself with supportive people for the first few times so you can gain confidence. If you prefer to cover up a little (which you don’t have to), Health & Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health recommends covering your shoulders with a loose blanket or nursing your baby in a sling. The organization also says this: “You do not need to respond to anyone who criticizes you for breastfeeding. If you feel in danger, move away from the person criticizing you and look for people who can support you.”
Whatever you do, don’t ask the people around you for permission to nurse. “This gives others the option to say no,” O’Connor says. “Just feed your baby when they are hungry.”
Petsense Gaffney, the company where Clark worked, apologized for her comments on Facebook and said that she is “no longer employed” by the company.
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