Why I Support Nursing in Public

When Grace was a newborn I hated the idea of nursing in public.  It was hard to get her to latch on.  Nursing covers got in the way.  The whole situation could be quite frustrating.  Why would I want to do that in front of the world?!!?  Then…

Grace got a little older and we both felt much more comfortable.  I started nursing Grace with a cover in front of other people.  Sometimes I could tell people were nervous about it, but no one ever complained.

As the temperature outside started to rise, so did my confidence.  During the summer I stopped using the nursing cover all together.  Instead I made sure that I was wearing clothes that still kept me covered while breastfeeding.  Nursing tanks are my best friend, folks!  I was able to feed my baby and keep myself covered.  Most importantly I felt comfortable.

The more I nursed in public the more I kept an eye out for other nursing moms.  I rarely saw one.  Why?  Here is my guess:

I feel like breast feeding mothers are given mixed messages. On one hand we are constantly told that breast is best and that when breastfeeding is possible, it is a wonderful gift to our children.  On the other hand we are encouraged not to do it in front of anyone.

It is human nature for people to be uncomfortable with things that are unfamiliar.  I rarely see women nursing their babies in public.  If people aren’t exposed to it then it is natural for them to be hesitant.

I have realized that when I nurse my baby in public I am doing something that goes beyond just feeding my baby.

I personally believe that by breastfeeding in public:

  • I am helping to end the negative stigma that occasionally surrounds breastfeeding.
  • I am encouraging other moms and families to breastfeed when it is time for them to make that decision.
  • I am helping the next generation to know that breast is best and it is NORMAL.
  • I am helping my girlfriends feel more comfortable the next time they choose to nurse their babies in public.
  • I am supporting social acceptance of breastfeeding.

By breastfeeding in public I am bringing about social change!

I would like to briefly touch on the issue of modesty when nursing in public.  Modesty is often the issue most widely debated when people are discussing nursing in public.  However, I feel like modesty is just the tip of the iceberg.  The fact is that cover or no cover, exposed or practically fully clothed; this issue is bigger than modesty.

I hope that someday we will live in a culture where nursing in public isn’t such a controversial topic. However, in today’s culture it is very controversial.  Honestly, I’m a little nervous about the comments that could come from this post.  If you choose to comment please be respectful with your words.


  1. Just an encouraging word…… I nursed all 3 of my kids till they 10, 12 and 14 months. I nursed wherever, whenever they were hungry – restaurants, mall, car,family gatherings even the bathrooms in some stores :-)……. I always carried around a light blanket so they wouldn’t get hot and I was covered. I got really comfortable with it. As long as I was covered, my kids were happy and well fed…… I figured it was a win-win. Keep doing what you think is best for you and your baby! 🙂

  2. Good for you! I think you make excellent points about how choosing to nurse in public really helps normalize it for future generations. I must confess that I really, really struggled with nursing in public and most often chose to go out to my car or into a clean restroom… MY choice, not because anyone made me feel bad about it. Still, looking at it from this perspective, it probably would have been better for me to work to get over my own issues to help make it more common. (I do believe in modesty and in not making others feel awkward whenever possible… :))

    1. Jessie, I’ve nursed in the car many MANY times. It is important to feel comfortable nursing in public and sometimes the car is more comfortable. Personally, I’m also a fan of modesty while nursing. Thankfully, I got really good at keeping things covered in a way that I was able to feel comfortable. Each woman, baby and situation is different, but shame shouldn’t have to be a reason to breast feed in the bathroom.

  3. Right on, Rebekah! I always got looks when I breastfed Gabe in public when he was a baby. I used to go grocery shopping and once he could sit up he would sit up cart seat and nurse under my shirt. I did use a cover most of the time, though. It was perfect for us because Gabe could be easily distracted.

  4. Great post! Thanks for linking up with our blog hop.

    I totally agree that breastfeeding in public helps to break the stigma around breastfeeding. Way to go!

  5. Beautiful post, Rebekah. Thank you. This was a wonderful post with such grace on a topic that is normally laced with rudeness (merely intended as passion) even on the parts of its advocates. People like you and approaches like yours will actually cause change.

  6. I am rounding out 17 weeks of my first pregnancy. I’ll admit that I’m a bit anxious about breast feeding. I watched both of my sisters nurse their children and the struggles they encountered at first (latching, comfort, etc.), but the huge benefits as they understood the process and how to make it work for them seemed to outweigh the initial struggles. I feel more comfortable about nursing in public the more I see other moms doing the same thing. Thank you Rebekah for doing what you believe in and what is best!

    1. Jen, your comment made my day. YOU are the exact reason why I feel like nursing in public is so important. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with me.

      You are certainly right that there can be a lot of struggles with breastfeeding. It is natural, but that doesn’t mean it is easy! However, nothing about being a first time parent is easy. Stick with it and it may end up being one of your motherhood highlights. (By the way, I think sitting down & lifting my shirt is a whole lot easier than going to the kitchen, grabbing a bottle, getting some water, measuring the formula, mixing it, heating it and then feeding my baby. Especially at 3:00 in the morning!)

  7. I remember carrying our youngest and breastfeeding her while perusing the grocery story aisles. It was comfortable, she was small, and she needed it. Once I was nursing her at Park City, on th the couches outside the bathrooms and a guard told me not too but I told him it was my right. He left and then came back and said that it was okay. He didn’t know!

    1. Wow, Mary Ann! You’ve actually had someone tell you you can’t breastfeed in a public place?!!? I’ve heard of that happening, but I’ve never talked to someone who it had happened to. I don’t know if I would have been able to keep my cool…

  8. Thank you for writing this post on breastfeeding. I breastfeed in public also and think its a natural thing to do.
    I don’t see too many other mothers doing it. I was touched the one time i was at park city in a play area sitting with my baby while my older kids played and i saw a mother breastfeeding so i sat next to her and feed mine to.
    The other day i told my coworker that i was still breastfeeding my almost 16 month old and she told me that that is weird and i should stop because he is walking. She said she stoped with hers when they started walking. She acted totally disgusted. I told her that i see nothing wrong with it and that him and i are still enjoying the bonding.

    1. Christy, your co-workers comment really makes me sad. Did you know that the official pediatric recommendation is to breastfeed until the age of 2? Of course the minimum amount of time should be until the age of 1. My little one started walking at 9.5 months! Should I have stopped nursing her then??

      I’m sorry you had to deal with that, but sadly it isn’t too surprising. Extended nursing (beyond the age of one) is probably even more uncommon than nursing in public. You just keep doing what is right for you and your little guy.

  9. Fantastic post! I agree with your point that if people aren’t exposed to it, it’s natural to be hesitant. The more breastfeeding is normalized, the less social stigma will be associated with it.

    Thanks so much for linking up to this week’s bfing blog hop!

  10. Looks like I picked a great week to join this hop!

    I think your distinction between shame and modesty is important. It’s one thing to cover up and/or hide what we’re doing if it makes us more comfortable, but it’s not ok if we’re doing it because we think we have to…because we don’t have to!

    Seeing it does help normalize it – crazy that we have to normalize something so natural!

  11. I haven’t thought about it this way, but you are so right. The more women are seen nurse in public, the more other women will feel comfortable to nurse in public. Bring on the social change!

    I must admit that I have been lucky and where I live nursing a baby in public is the most normal thing in the world. Everyone is doing it. Reading all the posts from the blog hop makes me appreciate just how lucky I’ve been, but also makes me feel sad for all the other women who have to go through so much discomfort for no reason.

    1. It really is amazing how things like this are so cultural. I hope that by more mothers nursing in public we can start to change the culture around here!

  12. Amen sister! I nursed all ten, so far, of my children in public! I think your doing a good thing! Blessings on you and your family.
    Hopped over from raising homemakers.com

  13. I’m stopping by from the BFing hop – I agree with you 100%. People just aren’t used to women feeding their children any more. I actually had to explain to a few of my nieces (who were 10 and 12 years old) how I was feeding my daughter under the shawl I had on. I was really nervous at first to feed my daughter in front of others, but I’ve decided that there’s nothing to be ashamed of!

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Taleah! I think it is great that you were able to educate your nieces. You may never know the impact that could have on them when they have babies of their own.

  14. I wholly support public breastfeeding. I breastfed all 3 of my children for years, and breastfeeding a toddler was actually easier for me to do in public, although not usually necessary since they breastfed less frequently by then. My problem with nursing in public when they were small babies was that when I would breastfeed on one side, I leaked milk LIKE CRAZY out the other breast. Little pads did not do the trick; I had to use a folded cloth diaper over my other breast , or that whole side would be sopping wet! Yes, I drank a lot of water, ate well, and nursed on demand, so I had plenty of milk. So that was just a little awkward having to stuff a cloth diaper into my bra on the other side…and then switching sides!

    A friend of mine, who also breastfed all of her children, told me recently that whenever she does she a mom breastfeeding in public, she goes and talks to her, encouraging the mom. She says things like “Oh I’m so glad to see you breastfeeding your child…that is the best thing you can do for your baby” etc. Moms need to hear this, especially when they may also be encountering nervous or disapproving looks from other people. So I ‘d like to encourage everyone to AT LEAST give and encouraging SMILE tp a breastfeeding mom to let her know you are on her side and you support her wise choice. But better yet, say something to let her know you approve/agree.

    1. Jennifer, you are right. Leaking can certainly complicate things when nursing in public! 🙂

      I love what you said about encouraging other mothers who are nursing in public. I’ve definitely given big smiles to other nursing women. I’ve heard of women handing out business cards that say something like, “Thank you for nursing in public.” I would love to have someone hand me a card like that sometime! 🙂

  15. Thank you oh so much for this post.

    I have been going through some difficult times. I am the only woman in my family who has nursed, besides my grandmother. I hear negative comments all the time from family, friends, strangers. They go on and on about how I’m not feeding my 2 1/2 m.o. enough, how uncomfortable it must be for me, how much work it is. And it’s gotten to the point where I’m nervous to nurse in public because people are so negative about it or they stare disapprovingly, even if I do always use a cover.

    But this post gave me a boost of confidence. Not only am I doing the best thing for my daughter and I, I’m also representing a positive image of breastfeeding to others who are unfamiliar or uncomfortable with it.

    1. Stay strong, Arelis! Stay strong! It must be so hard to not have the support of your family and friends. Honestly, once I got into the swing of things I always thought that nursing was easy. Sitting down and lifting my shirt seems much easier than having to prepare a bottle! 🙂

      You are in such a powerful position. You may never know the impact you’re having on others in your family or circle of friends. When the time comes for one of them to choose bottle or breast they’ll remember you. Stay strong and help those around you feel more comfortable with breastfeeding by normalizing it. Keep it up, mama!

  16. Found this post via the BFing support blog-party link up. I totally agree with your statements here, and my experience is very similar to yours. I also keep an eye out for nursing moms when we are out and about and rarely see them. (But our mall has a “changing/feeding” area, and I’ve seen nursing pairs in there). I especially agree that NIP is not just about modesty, but the bigger picture and I’m proud to feed my twins on demand wherever we are.

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