Exploring the “body fluids” debate about breastfeeding in public

As a culture we give so much lip service to breastfeeding being “best,” “natural,” etcetera but the reality is that is still not the cultural norm.  Sure, women are judged for not breastfeeding all the time but our culture isn’t actually supporting breastfeeding beyond using it as fodder for flaming mommy wars.  This reality is never more tangible than when a breastfeeding mother gets asked to move, leave, or otherwise change how she’s breastfeeding her child in a public setting.  When the media takes up the story before you know it further proof that understanding and support of breastfeeding is lacking culturally exhibits itself boldly with comparisons of bodily functions or sex acts done in public to breastfeeding in public.  Their point being that breastfeeding in public is just as unacceptable in our culture (according to that individual anyway) as any of those other acts.

Right, because feeding your baby and pooping/peeing or any sex act are so alike.

While it may seem obvious to most that there isn’t really any social, cultural, or medical similarities between breastfeeding and defecating in public, urinating in public, masturbation or oral sex in public, or even sex in public, some individuals insist on drawing the comparison.  A lot, actually.  Why?  I’m not sure but my best guess is shock value, as though they can prove their argument against breastfeeding in public merely by shocking people into silence.

I conducted a highly unscientific poll as to what people actually thought was more disgusting and shared the results here.  It’s very biased, seeing as the participants polled were all from either The Leaky Boob Facebook page, Jessica The Leaky Boob Facebook page, or my own personal Facebook page.  Still, the results are demonstrated in 2 fun little graphs.

But my site is called “The Leaky Boob,” I’m not exactly the type to be shocked or silenced.  Just ask Facebook.  Recently media attention on a variety of breastfeeding related stories (Target nurse-in, Kasey Kahne, etc.) seemed to have brought a rise of individuals that actually believe this is a valid argument.   I decided I needed to see if they had a point.

I talked with a pediatrician friend of mine and learned that the only special handling instructions they were given about breastmilk when she was doing rotations in the NICU was to ensure the milk was not contaminated before it was fed to the fragile neonates in their care.  It was considered a food and was treated as such, not as waste nor a biohazard.  An RN friend echoed these same experiences.  Hmmmmm, doesn’t sound like they thought of breastmilk as potentially dangerous body fluid or waste that needed to be carefully disposed of for health safety reasons.  Pretty major distinction there.

To help anyone still confused, anyone who may be thinking breastfeeding in public is like defecating in public, urinating in public, masturbation/oral sex in public, or sex in public, I’ve put together a couple of tables to break it down.

Breastfeeding in public is legal and protected in the majority of the world.  In the states there are laws in 45 states that expressly allow women breastfeeding in public or private areas.  Twenty-eight states have specific clauses that exempt breastfeeding mothers from public indecency exposure laws.

Breastfeeding in public does not pose a public health threat.  While breastmilk can carry HIV and hepatitis if the mother is infected, breastfeeding in public does not carry an increased risk of spread of the disease and the CDC even cites that a bottle of infected milk given on accident to the wrong baby is unlikely to lead to transmission of the disease in a healthy infant.

Breastfeeding a human infant is encouraged by recognized health organizations globally.

Breastfeeding in public is based on a mother responding to the need of her child for nourishment or comfort.  A small infant or child’s hunger can not be postponed.

Breastfeeding is not a sex act, it is an act of nourishment and comfort for a child.  A small portion of women may experience some level of sexual arousal by breastfeeding but that is secondary to the primary purpose of meeting her child’s nutritional and comfort needs and women are able to distinguish the difference.

Breastfeeding has been essential to the survival of the species for centuries and today is still the biologically normal way to feed a human infant.  Further, public breastfeeding provides a model for future mother/baby dyads to be familiar with normal means of infant feeding, we learn by seeing.


Defecating in public:

In all 1st world countries public defecation is illegal.

Human feces is recognized as a very serious health hazard that can contaminate water and food sources.

With the exception of those with special needs, public elimination of feces is considered deviant.

*Yes- if the individual is unable to control their bowels due to physical or mental disabilities.

*No- if it is from a fully functioning healthy adult.  The need can be postponed until a suitable toilet receptacle can be located.

Public defecation is a public health hazard and threatens the entire species including the young.


Urinating in public:

In all 1st world countries public urination without an acceptable receptacle is illegal.

Though sterile and not toxic in a healthy person, urine is known to carry pathogens and possible disease and can contaminate water and food sources as it is a human waste product.

In some cultures it is considered acceptable to urinate in public, while others have find it socially unacceptable.  However, all public health organizations warn of the dangers related to urinating in public.

*Yes- if the individual is unable to control their bladder due to physical or mental disabilities.

* No- if it is from a fully functioning healthy adult.  The need can be postponed until a suitable toilet receptacle can be located.

Public urination without proper sewage disposal is a potential public health hazard and as it is a human waste product threatens the entire species including the young.


Public masturbation/oral sex:

In all 1st world countries public masturbation and oral sex is illegal.

Semen and vaginal fluid can carry known pathogens though the spread would likely be contained, casual and unprotected sex is recognized in furthering the spread of disease.

Masturbation and oral sex are not acceptable public acts in most cultures and public display of them is consider sexual deviancy and is punishable by law.

*If it is from a fully functioning healthy adult, the need for sexual gratification can be postponed until a suitably private area is located.

Public masturbation and oral sex do not protect or care for the young of the species.


Public sex:

In all 1st world countries public sex is illegal.

Semen and vaginal fluid can carry known pathogens though the spread would likely be contained, casual and unprotected sex is recognized in furthering the spread of disease.

Sex is not considered an acceptable public act in most cultures and public display of sex is consider sexual deviancy and is punishable by law.

The need for sexual gratification can be postponed until a suitably private area is located.

While sex is necessary for the procreation of the species, public sex acts are not essential for caring or protecting the young of the species.


Our cultural preferences are often born out of deeply held beliefs whether they be religious, anecdotal, circumstantial, a belief about health and bodies, scientific, and more.  A few examples come to mind: the belief that the world was flat, the story of the woman that cut the ends off the roast simply because her mother always did so it would fit in her pan, and the practice of blood letting to name a few.  As our understanding grows we change our practices.  There was a time when washing hands wasn’t standard practice in health care and today we know that basic hand washing reduces illness and the spread of disease.  Culturally we accept hand washing because science has shown that the practice can save lives.  I can’t help but hope that some day the science behind breastfeeding will open our culture to accepting, even welcoming it in public.  Since there are these comparisons made I decided to look at breastmilk, human urine, human feces, vaginal fluid, and semen from more of a health perspective.  I did as much research as I could before my pregnant pukey self had to stop reading simply to spare my stomach any more churning.  As much as possible I included links where I found information.  I wanted to look at a historical and anthropological perspective as well but you know, I had to draw the line somewhere and get to the other things I have to do.


 My conclusion is that these comparisons are little more than culturally accepted beliefs rooted in gross misunderstandings of biology and ignorance of normal, healthy human infant feeding.  That and a desire to control women by telling them what they can and can not do with their bodies and shaming them into believing there is something inappropriate with using their body to feed their child.  These issues have nothing to do with whether or not a woman is covered to breastfeed, a personal choice nobody has the right to insist for another person.  It’s time we as a culture trust women with their bodies and their children and leave our ignorant prejudices out of it.


  1. I am doing research right now about the emotion of disgust. One popular stream of research posits that disgust is partially linked to behaviors evens that blur the line between animal and human – and that our humanity is not disgusting, but our animality is. From that perspective, we can see the basis of why some think breastfeeding is disgusting – as it is exactly what an animal would do.

    This is not to say that I agree with this, but only to present some research that could be used to explain people’s unfavorable reactions to BFing. You can find more information here: http://people.virginia.edu/~jdh6n/disgustscale.html

  2. * no idea why “evens” was in my post – I blame 1-handed typing while BFing 😉

  3. Betty Jackson says

    Wow! You really worked on those. Great job! Thank you for compiling all that in one place

  4. When I come across the asinine comparison of breastfeeding to urinating in public I lose all sense of respect for the person I am speaking with. It is such an ignorant thing to say to a breastfeeding mother and it shows how little compassion or understanding they have about healthy parenthood. I find it demonstrates the ridiculous lengths some people will go ‘win’ an argument despite lack of logic or sense. Thank you for writing this, laying at last to rest just how silly this ‘point’ is when used in discussions about nursing.

  5. There are times where poo is fed to individuals with GI disorders, they are usually BF preemies in the NICU. The purpose is to allow them to get more out of the nutrition. This is NOT a common practice and is very rarely done for very spesific situations. We were told about it by a NICU nurse while in the NICU, and no my son did not require it.
    Thanks for the fantastic gathering of info!! I will be sharing it!

    • There is nooooooooooo way anyone with half a brain would feed something bacteria-laden like feces to an immune system compromised patient like a preemie. My mother is a nurse practitioner, my brother is a doctor, and I’m in school to earn my DNP, and none of us have ever heard of this, or can think of any possible advantage feces would provide over breastmilk to a nicu baby. Sorry, but I hope you never go back to that hospital-they clearly are either psychotic or very poorly educated…

      As to the original blog post, thank you!

      • Sarah Stone says

        I replied to Krysta’s comment with an explanation of what her nurse was most likely talking about (albeit with VERY unfortunate paraphrasing!). I think they’re probably not psychotic… 🙂

        • Meighan Taylor says

          Lol, anyone who feeds poop to a newborn is psychotic in my book!! But you’re right, your explanation makes much more sense, and as you suggested, I would venture a guess that any caregiver who has a patient (or parent of a patient) walk away from a consult thinking that is is feces being fed back to the patient is in DIRE need of some better communication skills! Yikes!

          • It is possible they were referring to Fecal Bacteriotherapy where the colon is re-colonised with healthy bacteria from donor …um… material 🙂


          • I read about that a few weeks ago, Elizabeth. It’s usually a “treatment” for C.difficile or similar. I think it’s an absolutely vile practice, with no real evidence to back it. They should just use high dose probiotics. Not at all disgusting & actually shown to help.

    • Sarah Stone says

      Krysta, your nurse was probably paraphrasing quite a bit. Actual poop (fully-digested intestinal contents) is not fed back to any patient. I think I can shed a little light on what she was actually talking about. Preemies on tube feeding have their stomach contents aspirated (sucked out) before every feeding, so the team can make sure things are moving on through (as preemies are at high risk for intestinal complications). Whatever partially-digested milk/formula is removed is also replaced (via tube) along with the next feeding, since the baby does still need that nutrition. In patients with various GI issues/surgeries, stomach fluids (via tube) have to be removed because they will not pass on through normally; these fluids are high in a few different minerals and have to be replaced in the GI tract (through a tube further down in the intestine), so the person does not develop chemical imbalances due to the loss of stomach fluid. So, no poop is fed to babies, the hospital is probably a perfectly safe place to receive care, just an unfortunate lack of clarity in communication.

  6. Michelle Adams says

    Nicely done, now I know where to point the uneducated and those just too ignorant to see breastfeeding for what it is – natural and healthy.

    • i commend any woman who even aepmttts to bf for a day. i had a lactation consultant make me feel guilty as we were never able to latch without a shield and she basically told me i am lucky to be living now because 100 years ago without pumps and shields my baby would be dead. needless to say i didn’t use her services anymore. i pumped for 14 weeks before my second battle with mastisis which landed me in the hospital at which point i decided to wean from the machine. congrats to you for making it as long as you did.

  7. Finally, somewhere to link to when i see the comment “X is natural but we don’t do THAT in public”

    Thanks you TLB!

  8. Wow! Thank you for a concise, well-researched piece. This is exactly where I’ll send the next ignoramus who equates breastfeeding with elimination.

    • OH MY GOSH! No kidding, that’s disgusting. *shudder* ~Jessica

    • I totally agree. When I was in training for the military, men would spit in our training area all the time. Then we’d have to do push-ups in the same area, and people wondered why everyone was always sick. Spitting, hocking, all the grossness that goes with it, literally makes me gag. My husband has to go to another room when he’s sick and coughing and needs to spit, because if I hear it I’ll almost throw up, every time. I can’t stand it. *ugh*

    • Ugh – this sucks. I hate when peolpe do that to other peolpe. They don’t think you went through some sort of though process on your decision? There were no emotions involved? I had a lot of problems with breastfeeding. It is a long story but the thrust is I stopped when LM was 3 months old because he couldn’t latch, my milk suplly sucked, and I was pumping every 2 hours with a hospital grade rented pump just to keep up. Even then, the most I could produce in a day was 10-12 ounces, and LM was drinking 20 ounces a day. I could not continue the pumping schedule when I went back to work.The decision for me to stop was gut wrenching and there was a ton of guilt involved. Luckily, no one gave me any shit for it, not even strangers. But I still think how incosiderate it is that someone should comment on it as if this isn’t an emotionally charged topic.

  9. Kimberly Severson says

    GREAT work, Thanks!!!

  10. Thanks for this!

  11. You are a rock star! This post is amazing.

  12. This is amazing. Great work pulling it all together.

  13. Great post! It is very sad that we continually have to defend ourselves and others for simply nourishing our children naturally!

  14. I have an abnormal work situation and due to this, I put my milk in freezer bags and then place the bags in a normal kunch cooler in the fridge. I had to work with a different person the other day. Annoying and dumb to say the least. In addition to havingto listen to himfreak outeach time he saw my black medela bag, he later wantedto argue: if my milk could bein the fridge,then so could his semen. I was the ‘shocked to silence’ person. I am now a little better prepared to have a rebutle. Any other suggestions??

    • Report him. That behavior was sexual harassment. Also, print out this post with the tables and give it to him and your superiors. You deserve an apology, that was completely inappropriate. I’m so sorry you endured this, he was completely wrong.

    • Is your milk safe there with sick individuals like him around. Can you lock the cool bag, he doesn’t sound quite together in the head.

  15. Great post! It’s very sad that we continually have to defend ourselves and others for simply nourishing our children naturally!

  16. Great research! Whenever I am faced with this argument, I just point out that my baby is eating, and we are all legally allowed to eat in public. Comparing it to any of these other things doesn’t even make sense. It’s apples to oranges.

  17. Great post! All of those comparisons are so irritating and disgusting – and everywhere! One thing I’ve noticed is that they all seem to be made in response to our “it’s natural” argument. And, I have to admit, they make a valid point – not everything that’s natural should be done in public. So, I’m leaving off the “natural” part of my argument to avoid giving them the opportunity to “shock” with these comparisons… although I’m no longer shocked since I’ve heard them so often. Thanks for all this ammunition if I hear them again anyway.

  18. I’m amazed at the research you put into this – fabulous! And don’t forget this other point: we DO tolerate babies urinating and defecating in public because we all realize that babies have immediate, uncontrollable biological needs that they can’t postpone like adults can! Same rationale applies to breastfeeding in public – and who wouldn’t rather sit next to a breastfeeding baby than a pooping baby, LOL!

    • I think mothers are also not taught to potty train babies simply because of lifestyle, how hard is it to hold a little person over a potty? my baby is 3mths and does wees each time I hold him over it, my now 3yr old was potty trained by the age of 1yr. I am so excited by this and feel so much more confidence and have great satisfaction as a mother in teaching this to my young children…

  19. Paul A Lee says

    In the second paragraph of the “breastfeeding” table note, you used the word “sites” where the context implies you wanted the word “cites”.

    Just trying to help keep it “scholarly” so any potential detractors have nothing to use.

  20. OMG. I love this. LOVE IT! Thank you so much for doing all that work and posting it. I read an article today by this woman who was saying how offended she was by public breastfeeding and equated it with public urination and sex, blah blah blah. The sad thing is, that article is connected to my very pro-breastfeeding article “How to Breastfeed Discreetly in Public.” I feel like I should add something to my article now to rebut hers! May I paraphrase some of the data from your tables if I credit this post? This is just what I was looking for!!!

  21. I never use the ‘it’s natural’ argument because the word has become completely devalued by business and their ‘natural’ products anyway. I always acknowledge that people can find it uncomfortable because we are conditioned that it’s not the done thing to show breasts or deliberately look at someone’s breasts in public (men can feel very uncomfortable because, of course, a cute baby draws the eye). You can’t blame people for feeling that way, I think it’s good to validate how they feel and put it in context. Then I compare breast feeding in public to eating and drinking in public – whacky, I know! Instead of ‘natural’ I do sometimes refer to breast feeding as very ‘ordinary’. The other phrase I have found useful is ‘old fashioned’. For some reason being an old fashioned parent is very (ahem) fashionable right now, and when I can see people’s faces begin to look concerned and about to say something annoying because I co-sleep, breast feed etc I quickly say “I’m just very old fashioned in my parenting”. I don’t know exactly why, but it does pull the rug out from people’s feet. They still ask questions about their fears connected with these things but are a bit more polite about it.

    As for the ludicrosity of comparing breast feeding with defaecating, I wonder if people are trying to cope with how uncomfortable and conflicted they feel by attacking someone else quite violently. I would hope none of them actually think pooing in a baby’s mouth is ‘the same’ as breast feeding it.

  22. Dawn Gooden says

    I have NEVER heard of anyone making these insane distinctions, but it certainly does not surprise me. I am very happy that you went through all of this trouble to gather this information, and I will gladly do my part to spread this far and wide as much as I possibly can.

    One thing that might help you (just for any nit-picky naysayers…because they ARE out there,) but if you get around to it try posting some citations from scholarly sources so other readers have something to refer back to. The more your hard work can be appreciated as diligent and intelligent work, the less fuel ignorant morons will have to come back and say that your research was not worth it…if that makes any sense lol. If you want any help compiling information I would be happy to help. My husband is in school right now so I MIGHT be able to see about accessing the school library sources to get peer-reviewed articles from journals and such. I am on your facebook so you can msg me there or just email me =]

    Thanks again for this great blog post!

  23. Great Job!!
    I am amazed at the narrow minded individuals that say that breastfeeding in public is the same as urinating or defecating in public. As you put so well in your article; they are so far from being the same. These (individuals) need to either go live on MARS or just SHUT-UP and deal with it! I don’t understand why our society can see a picture of a dog nursing tiger cubs and think “aww how cute or that is awesome” but when a HUMAN MOTHER is nursing her INFANT or CHILD she should be locked up or worse go feed in the BATHROOM (GROSS).

    Futhermore we hook COWS (animals) up to machines and nurse them and bottle their milk and drink it. Using their milk to dehydrate and put into cans (formula) and feed babies. If you are of any intelligence just reading that sentence will make you think: Why in the world would you do that when you have the tools to feed your child 24/7 anytime of the day with no bottles or heating required? Maybe we would be more accepted by the society if they put us (breastfeeding moms) in a big room with pumps on our boobs pumping us for OUR breastmilk to put into bottles to sell…then maybe we would be accepted.

    These days I question the character of the mother that CHOOSES NOT to breastfeed their child. I do understand that there are some moms that have a certain medical emergency or tragedy that keep them from feeding their baby breastmilk. Not having milk come in or not having enough is not an excuse its the mother being LAZY and NOT TRYING, sorry I don’t make excuses. My milk did not come in for 5 days with both of my children but did I stop breastfeeding NO. I kept feeding and would supplement with formula (only 2 ozs) until day 5 when my milk came in. I THREW THE FORMULA IN THE TRASH! Never again did my children drink FORMULA! I do believe that formula is a great BACK UP PLAN!! NOT an OPTION! BREAST IS BEST for a reason and that reason is they PLUMP UP AND LEAK MILK AFTER YOU HAVE A BABY BECAUSE THAT IS WHAT NATURE INTENDED THEM FOR.

    I feel and this is my opinion; that mothers these days are SELFISH and would rather pop a bottle in the babies mouth than make a committment to give the baby the best. Lets face it (formula feeding) is EASIER! Formula feeding makes it easier to get back to YOUR life you had before… example: WORKING MOMS. I am all for the mom that works or has to work but there are plenty of moms that PUMP and still give up that time and really THINK about their baby’s health and do whatever they have to so their baby can have breastmilk. I really do think that its laziness and not being able to COMMIT yourself to doing what is BEST.

    Ask yourself this if you were pregnant and for some reason you got stranded on an island with no signs of RESCUE… what would you feed your baby. YOUR BREAST OF COURSE… so why won’t you NOW?

    As for the TOPIC of discussion I feel there is no argument as to MOMS that BREASTFEED their babies in PUBLIC.. there is no argument. I DONT HAVE AN UPROAR WHEN I SEE A MOM FEEDING A BABY FORMULA!

    Maybe us BREASTMILK MOMMIES need to start protesting MOMS FORMULA FEEDING IN PUBLIC!

    OK IM DONE!!!

    • to Tricia: The first half of your statement is lovely and supportive. The second half of your statement displays ignorance, self-righteousness and oppression. Perhaps you personally would feel selfish if you did not breastfeed, but please don’t make such broad generalizations. Rational or not, my feeling while breastfeeding was disgust, squeamishness, and intrusion. My breasts itched, burned and were hard as rocks for months. I could not stand to even have clothing over them, let alone grasping inconsiderate hands and mouth all over them. I chose to halt breast engorgement as soon as I could, and my son received the highest quality scientifically calibrated WIC approved baby formula. It was (and remains) a psychological problem for me that not one doctor (or even family member) cared about. My disgust at being touched, my discomfort with my own body, was me being selfish. Okay. Your self-righteous opinion that all mothers should only breastfeed and those who don’t are selfish, is the kind of arrogant, elitist attitude that keeps women’s rights below the rights of *anyone* else around them. It’s more important what you think, than what I feel.

  24. There is no need for long stories or complicated tables, when it is infact quite easy.

    Do I mind seeing your nice, clean boobs? No.

    Do I mind seeing your smelly, hairy balls or a saggy, bloodcrusted vagina? Yes.

    How do people not get the difference?

  25. I have luckily never heard anyone compare breastfeeding to any of those things IRL, it sounds crazy!

    I feel a need to say a few things about poop though. I’m not saying anyone should eat it, but it does contain more than stated here.
    It contains a lot of vitamin B12 created by gut flora in the colon, which we don’t absorb in that part of the intestines, so it goes to waste.
    Faeces can also be used for faecal transplants, to fix someone’s gut flora. I believe this is mostly done by enema, but oral/nasal route works too.
    Some people use it as fertiliser, the prettiest roses I’ve seen were fertilised with human poop. Though I would never do that, because it seems a bit gross to me and maybe not as safe as horse manure, which is the best manure anyway.

  26. Historically, it was considered obscene to breastfeed in public. Today, we don’t see it that way but in the past we did. It was obscene to even write about contraception for goodness’ sake.

    Breasts, in general, should be de-sexualized, but you can’t pretend that this has already happened. Whipping your breast out in public, for feeding or for anything, is going to be uncomfortable for people as long as this is the case.

    Breastfeeding is an incredibly intimate act. Like French kissing, it’s not dangerous or unnatural or deviant to do it in public. But doing it in front of people involves them in your intimate life. That’s just the long and short of it.

    • Nat, I’m sorry but I respectfully disagree. Breastfeeding in public historically is a well documented fact of society. It wasn’t until the introduction of formula and the marketing that artificial breastmilk substitutes were supposedly superior that breastfeeding in public became taboo. There is historical documentation of this fact in western society from photographs, paintings, sculptures, and writings treating breastfeeding in public as the norm. The idea that breastfeeding is considered intimate is a relatively new attitude in society. ~Jessica

      • Formula feeding only really got underway in the very late 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. Breastfeeding in public was considered obscene well before that. Certainly the early Victorians considered it so, but even going back to the English Civil War and the Puritans. Breastfeeding was considered something that a woman of propriety would avoid; wet nurses were common among the royalty and nobility.

        I’m not saying that we shouldn’t change the culture. Breasts should be de-sexualized and breastfeeding should be normalized. But it doesn’t do any good to pretend like that has always been the case or that there aren’t seriously hurdles to overcome.

  27. Someone linked me to this article. I hate to say it, this is probably one of the worst presentations of the subject I’ve ever seen. I’ll copy the relevant parts of my comment elsewhere here:

    You don’t need to feed a baby in public any more than you need to poop in public. I have never heard of a baby dying during the time it takes for mom to get to a restroom or car (although, oddly enough, I *have* heard of people pooping themselves before they get to a toilet–so I’d almost suggest the need is higher for pooping).

    The first column is silly, whether something is legal or not has no bearing on whether or not it is right. Turing was illegally gay, but he was not wrong for it, for example.

    The last column is also silly, it lends itself to the almost always bad argument of “BUT IT’S FOR THE CHILDREN”.

    Deviance is based on societal norms. When we’re discussing how those have changed, deviance is also not an acceptable column.

    We’re left with “public health threat”. That is easily solved with a port-a-potti.

    I’m not trying to say anything as to whether they are the same things or not, but really, an appeal to emotion is an instant fail. Try again with that half of the article deleted, the second chart affords some actual value. Personally, as a libertarian, in public places do as you please as long as you don’t physically harm anyone, so I fully support your “right” to breast feed (really, to me it’s as much a “right” as your right to breathe, it isn’t a right but more of a ‘why does anyone give a crap’). Of course, as a libertarian, I strongly believe it’s up to the owner of any private space to make up the rules he chooses (I mention this because I know there’s rules in some countries that force owners of spaces, against their will, to permit breastfeeding–force is always wrong, even if it is righting a wrong, because two wrongs don’t make a right).

  28. I really don’t understand how the stigma with breastfeeding came to be. Hearing grown adults (In the U.S), react to breasts like middle school children, has shocked me since hearing about public breast-feeding issues, at age 15.

    My family is from Eastern Europe, where the main form of feeding a child is breast-milk. Breastfeeding is not shocking there, it is expected. This society’s rigid view of breasts as sexual objects instead of nourishment for children must change.

  29. Amy Phillips says

    shepd, do you “need” to eat in public? No, but I’m sure you do. Would you ever eat in a bathroom? No, I’m sure you wouldn’t.

    Here’s the basic point… We have busy lives, and simply cannot stay at home 24/7 until our babies are weaned. We need to work, see our family and friends, shop for groceries, get our older children exercise outside, etc. Our infants, being infants, need to come with us and they will inevitably need to eat. Nobody would ever tell you to eat in a bathroom or car because you chew with your mouth open, or make disgusting slurping noises, or simply because they see that you wont die if you wait to be rushed to a private place to eat.

    Unless you want to abide by the same restrictions you’re putting on these babies (eating in a filthy bathroom, hot car, or being hungry until they’re taken home) I’m not sure you’ll get much positive feedback from this post.

    I hope you take some time to think about the liberties your ‘restroom or car’ suggestion take away from a mother and her infant. Because you’re a libertarian, after all.

    • But the argument for eating in public (I can’t believe I just said that) isn’t that we ‘need’ to eat right then, it’s just that you should be able to eat in public and no one has the right to prevent you from doing so especially since it doesn’t even affect anyone.

      Shep’s saying it’s the same thing for breastfeeding and the point “it’s urgent it has to happen right now” is just not actually true. It’s also pretty irrelevant, but that’s just because it’s countering dumb points against breastfeeding that shouldn’t have been made in the first place.

      “Unless you want to abide by the same restrictions”
      What restrictions? Owners of private places choosing not to allow you to do a certain thing on their property? Last time I checked there are plenty of stores that don’t allow you to eat inside them, that’s fine to everyone.
      Cause again he already said you should be allowed to breastfeed in truly public places.

  30. Why can’t a fully functioning health adult postpone the need to breast feed until a suitable private place is located?

  31. I am a breastfeeding mother and I also think that in public, it is very important to be mindful of the fact that although to us, at the time feeding our babies is natural and necessary, we teach our children that different body parts are private and we don’t flash them in public due to pedophiles and the like, Discreteness is the word I would use, it isn’t about a mothers pride, it is illegal to feed you baby in a moving vehicle regardless of holding them with a bottle or breastfeeding as it is dangerous. Yes our babies need nourishment and it is natural to breastfeed and it is beautiful and we have feel good hormones passing through our bodies, to pass on to our babies to help them feel content and relaxed. It is amazing that we can do this wonderful thing for our babies <3 !!! Someone was talking about animals feeding anywhere and it is natural, lol, once again discretion is the word, our breasts are also a sexual organ, erogenous zones, so again discretion is what it is all about not the baby needing for us to have our breast completely bared, I feed in public walking around but I don't have the need to make other people feel uncomfortable and yes I to was also told by the cleaning lady at the mall that I would be more comfortable in the parents room but I think what she was really saying was , she would be more comfortable, everybody needs to take responsibility for their own feelings but also be considerate of others and their children…

  32. Jessica Hornick says

    Linked here from Facebook (the Feminist Breeder’s FB protest). I sort of think the argument made here is a bit silly, but again it is being made because some, even more silly, people made a full-on-stupid argument against breastfeeding in public.

    But what I really want to say, and I think is largely overlooked in these discussions, is that the offensiveness of breastfeeding in public (to some) is also based on an outdated, misogynistic opinion that a woman’s place is in the home, as much as it is based on the “boobs are for sex” argument. EVen people who don’t consciously feel that way may have lingering subconscious ideas about this. If she/we/I were to “keep our place” and stay home with our babies, there would never need to be an argument about it because we’d never be in public. I’m not saying this is the only reason, but it definitely contributes. Think about it. This is also at the root of the “mommy wars”. Stay at home moms vs. work out of the home moms…As more and more mom’s work out of the home (and hopefully, equality for women is actualized), this will also contribute to increasing the acceptability of breastfeeding in public.


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