Your arguments against breastfeeding in public. They are invalid.

I’m sorry, everyone. I never intended for this to be a breastfeeding advocacy blog, but – y’know. Boobs and their baggage are things that predominate my life at the moment, so…

You’ve probably read about Cheese & Biscuits cafe in Rockhampton, who kicked a massive goal for breastfeeding mothers this week by politely ejecting a customer who was frightened by the sight of a lactating breast in their courtyard. He’d already complained to management, who’d informed him they were a breastfeeding friendly establishment and that they would under no circumstances ask a nursing mother to cover up or leave. He then took it upon himself to approach her, leaving her visibly upset when the owner came out to deliver his coffee. When apprised of the situation, the owner swiftly transferred the man’s coffee to a takeaway cup and showed him the door. She later posted about the incident on Facebook: Capture14

The post went viral, was picked up by local then national and international media and at last count their business page had over 5000 ‘likes’ and hundreds of five-star reviews from all over the world. Not bad for a small cafe in a regional city. I’ve seen it suggested that this was just a really well-executed viral marketing campaign, which I guess is totally plausible – but given that nobody was hurt, they’ve publicly affirmed their nursing-friendly stance and there’s been a huge groundswell of online support for mothers who breastfeed in public, I say ‘bravo!’ anyway! Reading the article online warmed the cockles of my, er, bosom.

But then… oh, then. I scrolled down. I broke my rule. I read the comments underneath the article. And while the overwhelming majority of them are positive, supportive, and lovely (and at least a million of the bajillion supportive comments are from MEN, hooray!), a small but ugly minority are foul. And so, because I am a complete masochist, I have trawled the grimy depths of the comments section for the most ill-informed, grotesque and idiotic arguments against breastfeeding in public. I give you them here, along with my retorts. If you are of a delicate disposition, you may wish to avert your eyes:

1. TheΒ I was fed poo and wee as a baby! argument: Capture8 Aviary Photo_130777194779944941 Capture10

These poor folk are confused. They seem to believe that the observation that ‘breastfeeding is natural’ implies that all natural things are acceptable in public. Let me make it very easy to understand.

Urination = expelling waste. Illegal in public. Smelly.

Defecation = expelling waste. Spreads disease. Illegal in public. Kind of gross.

Spitting = expelling waste. Spreads disease. Usually unnecessary. Illegal in public. Very gross.

Nose-picking = a dirty habit. Spreads disease. Not illegal in public, but not well-tolerated in offenders over the age of five.

Masturbation = a sexual activity. Illegal in public.

Breastfeeding = giving a small child food and comfort. Provides protection to infants against disease. Recommended as exclusive food for babies under six months of age, according to peak health bodies. Not only legal, but protected by law.

So, unless your argument is that urination in public is natural AND provides the ideal food for someone in your care (ewww), we are talking about two completely different, equally natural things. So hush your dirty mouth, please.

2. The This is discrimination against teh menz!! fallacy: Aviary Photo_130777196119103834

OK, clearly this fellow is a bit of a loony who may be unfamiliar with the concept of ‘male privilege’, but let’s humour him for a minute. If anyone complains, they are the bad guy. Male or female. Old mate is more than welcome to go to ADCQ, where I’m sure he would be educated about the section of anti-discrimination law that protects the right of babies (both male and female babies, incidentally) to be breastfed without impediment anywhere they have a legal right to be. I doubt his own claim of discrimination/harassment would hold water. He’d probably just end up embarrassed at his own behaviour all over again.

3. The weird, pervy argument that reminds us our boobs don’t actually belong to the baby. Or to ourselves: Capture15 Capture9

Yes, us exhibitionist mothers. We’re known for our rabid urges to expose ourselves for our own (and your) sexual gratification. Because we’re certainly not tired, or sore, or distracted by the responsibility of attending to the myriad needs of a tiny baby that we’re quite possibly still learning how to keep alive. I was totally up for a bit of casual flirting with strange men when I dragged myself to town in the early postpartum days. And we certainly wouldn’t hold a man accountable if he assumed we were being provocative by feeding our infants and subsequently raped us (victim-blame, a whole other argument in itself). Or if he raped some random woman he passed on the way home, given he’d been worked into such a lather, based on how ‘MM of NSW’ believes the system works.

Seriously. I’m sure some strange people are indeed turned on by breastfeeding, possibly because it’s the only glimpse of breast tissue they’ve ever had up close, or because they are confused and completely blank out on the fact there is a BABY there. By the same token, I also know that some people are turned on by feet. Does that mean I shouldn’t ever wear sandals to a cafe, in case I provoke a foot-fetishist into depraved lust? What about Plushies? Should I forbid my children from taking their stuffed animals out in public, in case Monkey or Miss Rabbit have an undesired effect on someone who finds them unusually attractive? Please. Take responsibility for your own reactions, no matter how hot under the collar you get. If you can’t keep yourself on a leash, maybe consider covering your face with a light shawl or moving to a quieter area.

4. Think of the CHILDREN!!

Capture7

How awful! Imagine, if children got the idea that boobs were intended for feeding babies, instead of thinking they’re for selling things! What would be going through a poor child’s mind? I’d hazard a guess it would be along the lines of ‘Cute baby. Wonder if I can get close enough to sneeze in its face once it’s finished drinking?’.

Or, if the child isn’t familiar with breastfeeding, experience tells me they’ll simply march up to the mother and ASK:

Kid: Why is your baby doing that?

Me: She’s having a feed. She drinks milk that I make for her in my body.

Kid: Oh. Why doesn’t she drink it from a bottle?

Me: Because it’s easier for me this way, and I get to give her a cuddle at the same time.

Kid: Cool. Does she like bacon too? I like bacon. *Sneezes on baby*

Which leads us to…

5. The completely misguided personal hygiene argument:

Capture12 Capture13

Wait, what? So, there’s dangerous airborne bacteria that can enter my baby’s lungs, right? But I only need to worry about those while she’s feeding? Or do I need to have a hankie covering her mouth and nose at all times while we’re in public? Because I really don’t know if she’ll be down with that…

Or are you worried about my breastmilk somehow spurting across the room and landing in your coffee, poisoning you? Pooling on the floor beneath my seat, creating a slip hazard? Let me assure you, it’s fairly unlikely. My goal is generally to get most of it into my kid’s mouth. It’s probably more likely everyone will be subjected to a bit of baby spew at some stage, but that’s going to happen regardless of the feeding method.

Maybe you guys are confusing breast- and bottle-feeding. There’s lots of sterilisation and so on involved in feeding a baby out of a bottle, which is one of the many factors that makes breastfeeding the right choice for me: always on hand, always sterile, always the right temperature and quantity. And all those immunity-boosting antibodies will, I’m sure, offset the risk of her inhaling any airborne diseases should her hankie slip.

6. The It wasn’t acceptable in the old days, you need to respect your elders mistruth:

Aviary Photo_130777194419254813

Really? Are you sure?

enhanced-31888-1391392673-2
Everyone looks pretty scandalised, don’t they? Clearly, mothers didn’t feed uncovered in ‘the old days’.

In any case, no. Even if things were different in his day and he was embarrassed, he had the option of accepting the seat that was offered to him inside when he first complained to the staff. Depending on how old he was, in his day Aboriginal people may still have been classified as ‘fauna’ under Australian law and denied access to many facilities. Does that mean he has the right to object to an Indigenous guy ordering a coffee and sitting at the table beside his today? Nope, nope, nopity nope. Some change is for the better, especially when the principles have been enshrined in the law. Sorry, not sorry.

7. The I can’t see what’s happening right in front of me dummy spit:

Aviary Photo_130777195367256061

Yes… they’re clearly leaving in droves.

Capture16

As you say: ‘Oh well’… I’m sure the proprietors won’t miss one or two customers now. Chances are they wouldn’t welcome your business anyway. But remember, there’s no guarantee if you go elsewhere that some other mother isn’t planning to ruin your day with her tits:

Image credits: Breastfeeding at Chattanooga Bus Stop 1943 via thederangedhousewife.com

Breastfeeding at an Outdoor Meeting via buzzfeed.com – I couldn’t find the original source, please let me know if you can.

Flawed arguments against NIP courtesy of visitors to The Brisbane Times, The Morning Bulletin, news.com.au and Cheese & Biscuits’ Facebook page.

‘Ruin Your Day’ is by Sparrow Folk and will do the opposite when you listen to it!


So, it seems this post is going to be receiving a lot more attention than I’m used to, sometime in the next few days! Thanks for reading. If you have a comment, please leave it below – I’d love to hear from you. Comments will be moderated so may not appear immediately – but I’ll happily publish any comment that isn’t obscene, abusive or obviously spam. (Yes, even if you disagree with me!).

If your comment starts with ‘I’m all for breastfeeding, but…’, please read this post before you proceed.

If you imagine my staunch support of breastfeeding means I look down on parents who bottle-feed, please read this post and think again.

You can find out more about me (and how this very amateur blog came to be) here.


351 thoughts on “Your arguments against breastfeeding in public. They are invalid.

  1. I tend to cover up my feeding in public. On one hand because its easy to do when you are wrap-carring your baby, on the other hand because I have seen her grandfather and great-grandfather shift seats or leave the room (without judgement or saying anyting! because they were uncomfortable with it but didnt want me to stop feeding (gotta love those men!!!)) and I would like to keep them from feeling like leaving while feeding my almost 4 month old daughter.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yay for babywearing! Yes, I have to say that the ability to feed discreetly on the go is one of the many advantages of wrapping that I’ve come to love also. And covering while feeding is absolutely personal choice – I’d never advocate for a blanket rule (pun totally intended) about covering or not. But it sounds like the men in your family know how to behave when they’re uncomfortable with breastfeeding (removing themselves rather than taking issue with you) so good on them as well!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on The Dirty Bohemian Phrasebook and commented:

    I am completely in favor of a woman feeding her baby however she chooses, be it bottle or breast. And if it bothers me? I have neck muscles, and I can use them to look away.

    Besides. Staring is rude regardless of what’s covered up or not.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I LOVED this post, I guess being a breast feeding mother helped. I read it with my little one sleeping and drinking at my breast πŸ™‚
    In the early days of breastfeeding I covered up, which was an unnecessary hassle, likely to wake the baby if she lost the latch… With time I learned that well if I am confident then there won’t be a problem. I saw other mothers who didn’t cover up and one day my daughter got sick of not being able to see her surroundings, that’s the ultimate moment when a mother will drop the cover.
    As for feeding in public, it is a necessity, especially for small babies as else they will scream their lungs out (in that situation people will likely criticise the mom for not feeding/taking care correctly of heir baby).
    A few weeks ago I reassured a young mother that she didn’t have to worry too much about the covering, after all when a baby is hungry there is no time for what others might think.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I hope that more coffee shops, restaurants, businesses see the kind of support for being pro breastfeeding from nursing mothers, and pro BFeeding people and decide to be pro breastfeeding themselves. The more it is normalized, the more it will be accepted and the more its accepted and respected then the awareness of breastfeeding will change.

    People don’t realize how making a big deal about nursing in public can affect that mother and therefore her child. She may go home and stop nursing all together; she may decide that until she’s done nursing she’s not going to go out in public; she may get anxious or ashamed about attending to the needs of her baby if she needs to go somewhere. She may feel defensive in public as well because she feels she needs to protect herself and her child. The actions of others towards a nursing mother who is responding to the hunger / comfort pains of her baby/child will affect her greatly one way or another. Choosing to nurse is a huge exhausting, gratifying contract between a mother and baby that takes commitment to get it established so you never know what kind of struggles that mother is or has went through with nursing her baby. Just because she is using her body as nature intended to feed her baby, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be treated with any less respect than a mother who is bottlefeeding.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I love that video! So funny! I am breastfeeding my 2nd nursling (currently 12 months) and dont intend on stopping any time soon. Luckily, we don’t get much trouble for doing it out here in California. It is very commonplace and I haven’t heard of anyone being approached to cover up. Too bad it’s not like that everywhere. Keep on raising awareness. You’re doing a great job!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I think it great that they ejected the customer lots of other places should follow suit. As a stay at home father when my son was young i went on lots of coffee mornings with nursing moms. Ive never found it offensive as its good for the baby. Mo other person has the rights to deprive the child of the good things breast milk has to offer.

    Daddyblog.co

    Liked by 2 people

  7. This post is so expressive! I can feel the rage on their and I like how it’s still fun to read! And for the very purpose of this post — it’s on point!!! I’m a breastfeeding mom too and I just hate that I have to deal with ignorant people every time I need to breastfeed my lo when we’re out. I wish I could just slap this post to each of their faces. Hahaha

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Recently I operated a raw vegan smoothie and juice bar, and customers sat 4 feet away from me. One day a new mother comes in, and we begin conversing and a couple minutes in she begins to breastfeed openly. This was new to me and I was able to carry on the entire conversation without ever looking down:) At that point I was very clear on all of the amazing benefits of breast milk and was glad she was doing it, though I was a bit surprised when it happened.
    It’s sad that folks take issue with it when it is, in fact, the most natural and loving thing one can do for their child for delivering effective nutrition. Assuming that mom refrains from toxic chemicals in all she consumes, etc. Without mothers, I would not be here, so I’m grateful for each of you and may you find that no matter what works for you, if another doesn’t agree, so it goes. Be well! http://www.nutritionaltruths.com

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This has two sides. I do believe in the rights of mothers to feed their children in their own way. With that said, I also believe in some public decency regarding this issue. Number one: Is it alright for a mother to breastfeed her child in public? Yes there is a way to do this discreetly. Number two: what is the discreet way to handle this situation? To cover up the child and the breast in question as to not have the mothers breast and nipple to the outward view of the general public.
    Now with this said, there are mothers that go to the extreme. I had a mother outside of my place of business that sat down, unbuttoned her blouse, reached in and presented her breast for all of the world to see, picked up her child and planted him on her waiting nipple. I guess my problem with this is more of her lack of caring who was around or what was being shown.
    Ladies, you can feed your babies where ever you want, but let’s not make it a free for all out there. If you find these statements to be wrong, that is your view. But don’t take away my right to my own opinion and what is being viewed in my own little piece of the world. If your needing a place to display your public nudity, fine go for it, but not outside my place of business with young innocent preteen and teenagers walking by. I do believe I have rights as well in this country too. I fought for those rights with my service to my country.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “Display your public nudity..”
      Yeah, because women breast feed to display their nudity. While you’re at it though, go ahead and make sure you NEVER see any indecency in the world, because there are never any guys or girls out there who dress with half the butt cheeks hanging out and a whole lot of cleavage showing or pants sagged down to their ankles. Definitely protect those “innocent” teenagers from a woman feeding her child, rather than stopping EVERY indecently dressed teenager in the world. Sure, fight for your rights, breast feeding mothers will fight for theirs, too πŸ™‚

      Like

  10. My dad once said something rather funny but also sad and disapointedaly true. That America is a country where the men have the right to bare arms but the women don’t have the right to bare breasts and unfortunately we are following their example.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I really like the points you make! I’m glad I read this post. It was very interesting! I hope people will understand that breastfeeding is a very important part of both the baby’s and the mother’s life and for raising a new generation! Keep up the good work!

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Great post. It is amazing the comments the internet will bring out of people. I also don’t understand people’s aversion to breast feeding, it’s something that happens all the time. People are wierd.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you! I’m glad I’m not the only one who is baffled by this. Having never had an eye batted at me while feeding in public myself, this post has certainly brought some of the weird my way! Many more positive comments than weird ones though, so we must be making progress. Thanks for joining me πŸ™‚

      Liked by 2 people

  13. Fair play to you for speaking up. I’ve breastfed four children in public but I feel embarrassed to mention it on my (six week old) blog. Why is that? I always found that, the more expensive the establishment, the more acceptable it was to feed.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. I personally think men are as capable of looking away to “preserve their right not to experience breast feeding” just a thought perhaps if they had grown up in a home where breast feeding was openly practiced they would not be “weird” about it now.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Eventhough the issue u took was a serious one but mate your writing style is a pure joy πŸ˜‚ really wonderfully written nd also i support the cause mate bcoz its really a natural thing to do… I mean dey are just feeding a cute lil bundle of joy whats there tu be offended about or feel disgusted or anything. Seriously some ppl are just too full of themselves 😜

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Totally gonna follow u mate ☺ well im a new kid in the world of blogging (joined 4 days back)nd i’ll try to learn alot from ur blogs πŸ˜‰ nd do follow me back to just to see wat kinda progress im doing πŸ‘Œ

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Welcome aboard! I can certainly teach you all you need to know about how not to raise children… apart from that, please don’t set your expectations too high! I’ll certainly check out your brand new blog, too.

        Liked by 2 people

  16. Reblogged this on newtomotherhood1987 and commented:

    Another great read! I breastfed for 6 weeks, but then received some bad advice and ‘gave up’. For a new mum breastfeeding was awkward for me. I felt so uncomfortable doing it in the first couple of weeks, worried someone would say something…. This probably didn’t help me either! What also didn’t help…. And he has no idea…. But my husband was always asking me if I wanted him to cover me up?! NO I didn’t want to cover up, I had a right to feed our child, the sheep and cows and every other animal in the universe does it without being covered up ( not that I like likening myself to an animal – but it’s life, it’s supposed to be natural!). And did he not realis how hard it was to get a baby latched on while juggling a blanket covering everything?!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Loved this! It’s been many years. But I never had anyone behave offended when I nursed my children in public, nor did I ever notice anyone leering. Now my children Are having babies and breastfeeding is their chosen option. Anyone who is offended should just walk away. The World Health Organization recommends nursing as long as two years. It’s best for the child. Btw, funny video.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. This is wonderful. Thank you! As a first time mom I was very nervous about feeding in public, especially because of all the scrutiny that has been surrounding it. I am getting more comfortable feeding her in public now and thankfully I haven’t had any negative experiences so far! I love these arguments!

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Breastfeeding is the single most primary method of infant nourishment in Africa… And as a ‘dude’ who’ve lived in Africa for most of his life.. I’ve become very accustomed to it but my indifference and sense of implicit tolerance has a boundary- and by that I mean; I don’t particularly mind breastfeeding but I believe there is a certain civilized manner in which it should be done. Code of Conduct if you like… Discretion, even in public, isn’t quite as hard as you’d think. You’d be surprised how perfectly it merges with breastfeeding to constitute decency.. Discretion Ladies.. Discretion πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

      1. And wow, I’ve just had a chance to check out your blog – you have some fabulous work going on there (I also followed the Clem Ford debacle with dismay – one more reason I’m glad I gave Facebook the flick). I’ll be following for more!

        Liked by 1 person

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