One challenge that has arisen in modern society with breastfeeding today is breastfeeding in public. Learn more about the challenges, your legal rights and how to breastfeed in public!
Breastfeeding is the normal and natural way to feed babies, and breastmilk is the
perfect first food for babies. However, that doesn’t mean that breastfeeding is
always easy, especially in modern society. One challenge that has arisen in
modern society with breastfeeding today is breastfeeding in public.
Problems Women Face
Breastfeeding in Public
Before formula came about, all babies were breastfed.
Nobody would even think about batting an eye at a mum feeding her bub with her
breasts. That was simply the way babies were fed. When formula was invented and
became popular, breastfeeding rates declined. There was even a period of time when breastfeeding was considered to be
only for the poor. Since the many benefits of breastfeeding began to be
better understood, breastfeeding rates began to increase again. In recent
years, research indicated that over 95% of mothers started out breastfeeding.
Even so, there remains a stigma around breastfeeding for some people.
1. Sexualization of Breasts
In modern society, women’s breasts have been highly
sexualized. There is no doubt that breasts can play a role in sex, but it is
definitely not their intended purpose. The reason women have breasts is to feed
babies, but they are so sexualized in today’s societies that many people see
them as no different than genitals. For this reason, many people find it
inappropriate for breasts to be visible in public even if it’s to feed your
baby. Actually, our society has got it so backwards that some people are
perfectly okay with women wearing extremely revealing sexy clothes that show
most of their breasts, but they have a problem seeing a woman breastfeed even
though most breastfeeding women show little to no skin when breastfeeding in
public. Breasts are so sexualized by our
society that some people can’t handle seeing them used in a non-sexual manner.
2. How Some People React to
Breastfeeding in Public
Since breasts are seen as primarily sexual objects to
many people, they may be extremely uncomfortable seeing them used for their
intended purpose of feeding babies. Sometimes people are so affected by this
mindset that they think it’s
inappropriate to breastfeed babies in public areas and they may even get it
in their head that it must be illegal. This is actually the opposite of the
truth, however. These people may feel the need to say something to a
breastfeeding mother which can obviously make the breastfeeding mother very
uncomfortable and can lower her confidence. It’s important for breastfeeding
mums to understand the ignorance of these views so that they aren’t deeply
affected if someone confronts them.
Your Legal Breastfeeding
It’s also important for a breastfeeding mum to
understand her legal rights. It is a mum’s legal right to feed her baby
whenever and wherever they are hungry. A
hungry bub should never have to wait to eat. They aren’t like adults that
may be able to handle being hungry for a while. Babies need their needs met as
soon as possible no matter where they may be when the needs arise.
1. Federal Laws
The federal Sex Discrimination Act gives mums the right to feed their baby anywhere they
may be when their baby gets hungry. Since only women breastfeed, it’s
considered sexual discrimination to discriminate against a breastfeeding mum.
Therefore, breastfeeding mums receive protection from the Sex Discrimination
Act. This protection applies all throughout Australia.
2. State and Territory Laws
In addition to having protection under federal law, many States and Territories have their own
laws protecting the rights of breastfeeding mothers. These laws vary by
area but often protect a breastfeeding mother and child against discrimination
when it comes to work, school, goods and services. Look into it with your State
or Territory government agency to find out the details about breastfeeding laws
in your area.
3. What You Can Do if You Are
Unlawfully Discriminated Against?
Even if you know your rights, it can be overwhelming
if you are wrongly confronted for feeding your baby in public. It’s important
to remain calm and remember that you
aren’t doing anything wrong by meeting your bub’s needs. If you are
discriminated against, it’s up to you about what you should do. You may feel
very confident and simply respond by stating your rights and that may be good
enough. If you wish, you may want to
file a complaint.Sometimes the discrimination you may experience could be
protected against by both federal law as well as local law. If that is the
case, you will need to choose only one to file your complaint with. Reach out
to the Federal Commission and your local government agency to help aid your
decision making in this case. If the person discriminating against you gets
physical or makes you feel threatened, you should contact the police.
4. Positive Experiences of Breastfeeding
When the time comes that you need to feed your baby
out in public, you may be nervous that you will get dirty looks or that someone
may confront you about it. Luckily, this isn’t as common as it may seem. In
fact, most breastfeeding women never
have a problem with it at all and have nothing but positive experiences
with breastfeeding in public. Women feed their babies all over the place on a
daily basis without any problems whatsoever. The reason that sometimes it seems
like more of a problem is because if a
woman feeds her baby and nothing happens, it’s obviously not going to make news
or be talked about a ton. You may hear about a woman being asked to leave
an establishment for breastfeeding, but you won’t hear about all the women that
are not asked to leave places for feeding their bubs.
How to Breastfeed in Public?
Everyone has a different comfort level when it comes
to breastfeeding in public. Some women are completely at ease with feeding
their bubs in front of others, while some prefer it to be as private as
possible. There are different things you can do to make yourself more
comfortable depending on your own feelings about breastfeeding in public. The
important thing is that you base how you
breastfeed in public off of your own personal preferences and not what
others may think or say.
#1 Nursing Covers
There are specialized devices designed to help you
cover everything up while you feed your baby. There are many designs and styles
of nursing covers to choose from. They do have some drawbacks as using them can
make baby hot and uncomfortable. Many babies don’t like nursing covers, and
they can be very difficult to use in the first place since you generally can’t
see what you’re doing when using one. However, some women are more comfortable covering up altogether and are able
to use them successfully. If you wish to use a nursing cover out in public, you
may want to practice using it a few times at home to make it easier when you
actually need it.
#2 The Two-Shirt Method
Some women choose to use something called the
two-shirt method when nursing in public. This
allows you to discreetly nurse your baby while revealing little to no skin
without having to use an actual nursing cover. To practice this method, a
woman should wear two shirts. Often times, she will just wear a tank top
underneath her normal shirt. To nurse your baby this way, pull up the first
shirt, and pull down the second shirt. This way, the bottom shirt will cover
everything below your breast, and the top shirt will be able to cover your breast
down to your nipple. Your baby’s mouth, of course, will cover your nipple. Once
you get good at doing this, you will be able to do it without revealing any
skin while feeding your baby. If you want to be very
discreet, you can make sure that both shirts are the same colour so it all
blends in and is less noticeable.
#3 No Cover
How you breastfeed in public is completely up to you
and depends on your own personal comfort level. If you are confident about
nursing in public, just go for it without any extra steps. You can simply feed your baby however you normally would if you
were alone at home. It’s all about what you’re most comfortable with.
Breastfeeding is Natural
The most important thing to remember when it comes to
breastfeeding in public is that it is completely natural. There is nothing
weird or gross about it and you should never let anyone make you feel like
there is. Breastfeeding is the
biological norm, and it should be treated as such. Remember that most
people have a very successful experience with no issues when breastfeeding in
public. Chances are you’ll never have to worry about breastfeeding
discrimination. However, it’s always important to know your rights just in case something does come up. Never be
afraid to properly care for your little one, no matter where you may be or who
Welcome to Babyinfo – the ultimate pregnancy and newborn information guide. We are here to help you find all the pregnancy and baby info you need to make the most beautiful experience of your life even better.
Our team is comprised of an amazing mix of experienced mothers, recently pregnant women, and editors with tremendous medical knowledge in the fields of gynaecology and childbirth.
Think of us as your friendly advisors, here to give you honest, easy to understand and authentic information. We are here to be your support at this crucial time in your life, when you need it the most.
Note: This website is in no way meant to replace doctors, hospitals, or other healthcare providers that may be utilized by current mothers or mothers-to-be. All mothers are advised to see a doctor for medical advice and the appropriate care before, during, and after pregnancy.