Is it Acceptable for Women to Breastfeed in Public?
Breastfeeding in public is one of the most controversial issues in society today. There are strong opinions on both sides of this issue. One opinion against this issue is breastfeeding in public is disrespectful. A common opinion in support of breastfeeding in public is that, women should have the right to breastfeed without rude comments or stares. Another opinion is, that breastfeeding in public should be encouraged because breast are designed to feed humans, and mothers should be able to feed their babies whenever they are hungry, even if it is in a public place.
Breastfeeding in public should be accepted because it allows women to be full members of society and they shouldn’t have to hide when they want to feed their children.
For those who do not agree with nursing in public, the main reason for their concern is that breastfeeding in a public setting can be seen as disrespectful.
Miller-Wilson reports that people who oppose nursing in public, feel as though a woman’s breasts are a private part of her body, and that exposing them in public—, even to feed a child—, is wrong. She also mentions that, on Debate.org, users cite other types of nudity as similar to breastfeeding, explaining that just because nursing is “natural” does not mean it is appropriate in all situations. To some, therefore, breastfeeding in public may not be appropriate in certain situations and could seem disrespectful.
However, breastfeeding is a normal part of the human lifecycle which is why breastfeeding in public should be welcomed. This would encourage others to breastfeed their children, and show them that it is normal to feed their children whenever (and wherever) they may are hungry, including in public places. In addition to strengthening the bond between mothers and their babies, breastfeeding also offers a lot of health benefits. Including lower rates of meningitis, childhood leukemia, and other cancers, diabetes, respiratory illnesses, bacterial and viral infections, diarrheal illnesses, allergies and obesity (Benaroch). For theses reasons, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that breastfeeding continue for at least 12 months. Breastfeeding also offers a range of health benefits to mothers, including lower risks of breast and other types of cancers, as well as osteoporosis (Benaroch). As society, we have an obligation to support mothers who are looking out for the well-being of our future generations by breastfeeding. Asking a breastfeeding mother to nurse in a bedroom or cover herself up is an unnecessary barrier to breastfeeding, and the fear of these barriers can cause mothers to refrain from breastfeeding altogether or to wean their infants earlier than what is most beneficial. Encouraging breastfeeding in public will show future mothers that this is normal and that there is nothing wrong with feeding a child in a public setting.
Moreover, breasts were designed to feed babies whenever they are hungry—including in public places. Breast don’t exist for sexual purposes, they were made to feed infants. Although it is common in Western cultures for breasts to serve a sexual purpose, that it is not their primary function. Instead of acknowledging this, western society has over-sexualized breast to the point that having exposed breast in public is considered pornographic by some. We have become confused about the purpose and functions of breast; however, if we can correct these false ideas about breasts, then we can begin to correct the false ideas that society has about breastfeeding in general, and specifically in public. Breasts should be regarded as s a source of nutrition. Which will begin to help society understand that it is perfectly okay for a woman to breastfeed her child in public.
Ultimately, whether a mother chooses to breastfeed in public or not is her decision, but babies were born to breastfeed and mothers should be able to nurse their babies anytime and anywhere without stares, negative comments, or judgement from others. When society finally gets on board with the idea that breast are meant to feed infants and that breastfeeding in public is as natural as eating a sandwich or drinking coffee, future generations will flourish as they will likely consume more nutrients and grow up with a healthy understanding of the function of women’s breast.