Breastfeeding in Public: Much Ado About Something

Breastfeeding has been in the news a lot lately. What’s making the news is not information about the health benefits or tips and tricks for new breastfeeding moms — the headlines are all about breastfeeding in public. It generally reads something like this: Mom breastfeeds in local store/restaurant/church. Mom told to cover up or leave. Several moms respond with nurse in. And then there are celebrity breastfeeding sightings that make headlines — just yesterday, it was reported that Beyonce was seen with her new baby girl, Blue Ivy, breastfeeding in public at a cafe in New York city.

So, why the excitement? Why has breastfeeding in public become such a hot button? Advocates assert that making a big deal out of breastfeeding in public helps to normalize a normal way of feeding babies — that it takes away the taboo. Yet others insist that calling excess attention to breastfeeding in public only heightens the controversy, turning something that is normal into a media spectacle.

Regardless of your views on breastfeeding in public, what it comes down to is basic human rights. Mothers have a right to feed their children; babies have a right to eat. And, women have a right to feed their babies — bottle or breast — where and when they need it.

Weigh in: What do you think about the media’s focus on breastfeeding in public — does it help or hurt the issue? Have you participated in a nurse in? Have you experienced discrimination for breastfeeding in public?

Avatar of Cara TerreriAbout Cara Terreri
Cara began working with Lamaze in 2004, two years before becoming a mother. Three kids later, she's a full-fledged healthy birth advocate and the Site Administrator for Giving Birth with Confidence. Most recently Cara began study to become a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator and DONA certified doula (learn more about her services at She continues to stand in awe of the power and beauty in pregnancy and birth, and enjoys helping women discover their own power and joy in the journey to motherhood.


  1. Sarah says:

    I personally feel the attention is a good thing, in that it does make more mothers aware that others ARE doing it, and encourage them to do the same, and hopefully feel more at ease to do so. Now, when sitting at home, with just my other half and daughters, I will feed uncovered. I do, however, cover up in the presence of others… Partially due to my slight modesty, but also in consideration of them. If someone has an issue with a mom who breast feeds with a cover, they are the problem, not the mother.
    AND, I will feed, covered, while shopping, eating out… you name it.

  2. Hannah says:

    Right on Sarah!!! I suddenly remembered when a priest told me that I can’t nurse my child in the church because it’s disrespectful. I despise that! Church should be a place of comfort, healing, nurture, etc. As long as you’re being discrete about it, I strongly believe that it is the right of the baby to be fed anywhere, anytime!

  3. Karen Irvine says:

    I feel that any publicity is good publicity- it gets the conversation started. Every woman has the legal right to feed her baby in the way she chooses, whether it is to bottle feed, breastfeed while covered or breastfeed while exposed, I think you should feed your baby in the way you feel comfortable, and if someone is uncomfortable about it they can start the conversation and maybe get educated in the process.

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