Breastfeeding in Public


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Demetria Slyt, Opinion Writer

For a long time, there has been a very heated debate about breastfeeding in public. Some people believe that breastfeeding in public is a form of public indecency. Others believe that it’s a mother’s responsibility to feed her child and there’s nothing indecent about it. While I am not yet a mother myself I know a lot of moms, whether they be long-time moms, new moms, or even expecting mothers. Everyone has their own stance on the “issue,” I personally think that there isn’t anything indecent or sexual about the act of breastfeeding. It’s natural and it’s something most, if not all, mothers have to for their children if they are able to.  

There are many factors to take into consideration when it comes to breastfeeding in public. Some people argue that there is a right time and place to breastfeed, some combat that by saying there is never a right or wrong time in the case of a child. I can understand both ends of this specific argument, while I do think there is a time and place for this kind of thing I also realize that being a mom is a lot of work and not everybody has the time or opportunity to do these things when they want to. Having a child can be very demanding, and that isn’t the fault of the mother or the child themselves. One major part of this argument is that breastfeeding in public is unsafe. Nowadays everything is hyper-sexualized and often exploited or blown up by the media and entertainment industry. Especially but not exclusively, women’s breasts.  

Unfavorable alternatives to breastfeeding in public, provided by various establishments, are public restrooms and nursing stations. These are often seen as very unsanitary places, and I’ve heard that many women won’t tolerate it at all. However, there are laws that protect breastfeeding mothers. First, it is completely legal to breastfeed in any federal or government building. Also, employers are legally required to allow you to nurse your child or pump at work. You can always look into your individual state’s laws on breastfeeding and also any other company or even airline policies on public breastfeeding.   

I talked with a few different family members and friends of mine who have children about the topic. Even a few men chimed in on the subject. Everyone I’ve talked to believes that it is every mother’s right to breastfeed in public. It is actually a mother’s legal right to breastfeed with or without cover in public in all 50 states. There are actually people out there trying to make breastfeeding in public illegal, which is beyond ridiculous. Breastfeeding, like bottle-feeding, is a choice and every woman should be allowed to do it if they wish. A few women did admit to me that the idea of breastfeeding in public made them a little uncomfortable but they would do it if they had to, and that’s completely fine. No one is going to force you to do something you aren’t comfortable with, this movement isn’t necessarily about that.  

This movement is about ending a form of discrimination that overtly sexualizes and shames womens bodies when trying to care for their young ones. It is every woman’s legal right to breastfeed wherever they need to, more importantly, it is a choice and no woman should feel ashamed for that. There are those who are wrongly and unjustly against breastfeeding in public and trying to take away women’s god-given rights to their bodies. What do you think about today’s topic? Should breastfeeding be allowed in public? What do you think are the cultural differences and understandings of this?

Demetria Slyt is a Dakota Student Staff Writer. She can be reached at [email protected]