Should Breastfeeding in Public Become an American Norm?

Why Children Should Witness Breastfeeding in Public

This article from Nursing Freedom a mother describes her experience of breastfeeding in Europe compared to in the United States.

The mother explains that in Sweden and Denmark she observed three women nursing babies, uncovered, at the table at restaurants, and many others nursing at parks and playgrounds.

She writes, “The cultural contrast between Scandinavia and the U.S. was incredible to take in, particularly in how I observed children reacting to the sight of breastfeeding. In Scandinavia, I never once saw a child or a child’s parents react with alarm, disgust, shame, or even slight concern when they witnessed myself or other women breastfeeding in public.”

She explains that in the Northeast United States, she has had several experiences with nursing around groups of pre-teen and teenage boys. What has happened every time was this: one boy noticed, and immediately a storm of whispers, giggles, double-takes, stares and/or shyly averted eyes commenced.

Click here to read the entire article.

What do you think? Should public breastfeeding become more accepted in the United States?


  1. Sorry, call me old fashioned, I hate when mothers breastfeed in public. I like the article, the mother makes good points. I know my aversion is wrong since all babies should breast feed if possible. But I just hate it when they are breastfeed in public. Fine if they simply have a large t-shirt over it though. Perfectly fine if in the home. Just don't like it in public places like resteraunts, parks, airports, etc.

  2. I'm all for it. Then again, I also used to live in a country where women routinely and openly breastfed even in church and nobody had a problem with it. Part of breastfeeding success is being able to nurse on demand. Mother's body and baby's needs tend to sync up fairly well when this is allowed to happen. There are benefits beyond nutrition with this. I think the issue that needs to be dealt with isn't the breastfeeding in public, it's the way our particular society (or at least large portions of it) has objectified women's bodies to be so sexualized in perception. We focus on how attractive women are, how pretty, how hot…but we don't do much focus on how wonderfully functional women's bodies are, their strength and power and the near miraculous ways that women's bodies can adapt to childbirth and infant care (for instance, the frequency at which the human ear hears best is the same frequency at which newborn humans cry). If we, as a general society, could get over than hang up, we'd be a lot more accepting and supportive of breastfeeding mothers. Teen boys would see it and not find it something to giggle and smirk at…but something to either admire or ignore. Other adults wouldn't find it shameful or embarassing to themselves…instead of "OMG, I just saw a NIPPLE!!" they would thing, "Wow, hungry baby!"

  3. For professional or career nannies (or whatever you want to be called) to not support public breastfeeding is a real shame. We absolutely should support mothers who breastfeed in anyway possible. There are plenty of studies supporting the advantages of breast milk and we absolutely should allow mothers to breastfeed in public.

  4. You eat in public, don't you? Of course babies have to be breastfed whereever and whenever they need to eat. Breastfeeding isn’t just good for children and mothers, it’s good for everyone! TerriSilver Spring MD

  5. I commened any woman who chooses to breastfeed. It's such a huge committment and so beneficial to the child.Personally, I think it's the mother's choice.However, if in a very public place-then a light blanket should be placed over to cover- as you never know exactly who is watching and what they are thinking.I've been to mom and me classes-where everyone was comfortable-and many mom's would openly breast feed-and it was fine.As this becomes more the norm- the stigma will begin to wear off.It's the same with anything when it's new, as everyone is still in the acceptance stage. When it becomes more common- like in Europe- it won't even phase people.~Andrea- Nanny in NJ

  6. I am completely baffled as to how this is even a debate. Breasts are for feeding babies. Breastfeeding is a normal, natural, regular part of life where babies are being nourished so that they may live. It's much easier to mix formuala so we ought to support mothers that want to breast feed. I hope all nannies would support breast feeding mothers, even in public!

  7. I just wanna say that I happen to be a catholic ultra conservative who believes in decency and good american values. I strongly feel that public breastfeeding should be illegal in all 50 states due to the fact we need to have a strong moral civilization the way it used to be before breastfeeding in public was never an issue. Public breastfeeding is rude and its disrespectful to those who don't agree with it. Let me choose if I want my kids to see that or not. In your own home you can do as you please.

  8. It is completely fine for women to breastfeed in public! They should have the right to do it wherever they want! If you were asked to leave a public place because you were eating would you be very happy? I don't think so! So why on earth do you think that it is alright to do it to a baby? A baby can't wait until they get home, they need to be fed when and where they ask for it! If you don't like seeing mothers breastfeed then YOU look away or leave the premises!

  9. As a devoutly practicing Catholic, who also happens to be conservative, I feel compelled to respond to the anonymous Catholic commmenter above. You might want to do some actual research on what your own church's theology supports regarding this matter. But don't take just my word for it, educate yourself and read the words of Christopher West, a leading Catholic theologian whose specialty is Theology of the Body (which I presume you are familiar with) disparage and condemn women who would breastfeed in public is, at least from the Catholic theological perspective, to hate God's own natural creation.That country I lived in where people breastfed routinely at church, which I mentioned in my previous comment? That would be Honduras, where I lived as a Catholic missionary for 13 months. Those churches? Catholic, every last one…even the bishop had no issue with it. I would presume, since you identify yourself as Catholic and ultra conservative, that you consider yourself a faithful and obedient Catholic, no? If the Magesterium has no issue with it, then neither should you.

  10. I'll admit it makes me uncomfortable and I wish it didn't. I think some parents are like me and don't tell their kids that mommy is breastfeeding and what breasts do. It's a shame I'll admit it. My former mom boss just breastfed in open and I did think it was weird when other people's kids would come over for playdates and she wouldn't cover herself. Some of the other mothers commented to me and I didn't know what to do or say. I wish it didn't make me uncomfortable and would like it to change. It's obviously NOT a sexual perversion. It's food. It isn't sexual at all so yes I hope I change my feelings and hope it becomes more accepted here in the US.

  11. The problem with public breastfeeding is that generally our society, in the United States, has sexualized breasts so much that is makes many people uncomfortable to see them, and frankly, to see them used in that way, even though that is their purpose. I am a mother who breastfed all five of my children, and would never have found shame in it. However, because of the way women's breasts are viewed by our society, I think it is much more appropriate to do cover up…at least until parents teach their children about the true God-given functions of our bodies.

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