Should Breastfeeding be allowed in Public?

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While breastfeeding the young is an important part of human life because breast milk provides optimum nutrients for the infant, protects the child from being ill, and has a higher nutritional value than comparable formula milk, breastfeeding in public remains a controversial problem. Breastfeeding is clearly one of the normal activities that all females would be comfortable with without shame or humiliation. However, in today's culture, breastfeeding in public remains a contentious topic because some people misinterpret it as a disrespectful gesture. while it remains one of the most natural things in the raising of the young ones. At that age, it is important for the toddler to have continuous access to the breast milk to ensure that the essential nutrients become available to the child throughout the day. In this essay, therefore, it will highlight the thorny issue of breastfeeding while offering insight on the benefits of women breastfeeding in public without bringing controversies of obscenity.

There are exists many benefits for the mother to breastfeed at any given time and place, both for the child and the mom. However, there also exists personal reservations that would make people view breastfeeding in public as a wrong act. One of the primary reason why some people see breastfeeding as an out of the ordinary action is that individuals in the vicinity always end up feeling uncomfortable. Evidently, all women should have the right to legally breastfeed their young in public without feeling any signs of guilt or embarrassment. While in most cultures across the world it is against the law to show nudity in public, then it follows the counter-argument that breastfeeding in public should remain illegal. Nudity in any public place always make people feel uncomfortable, and this is because of the young ones who do not need to see the sexual organs of other people. In most cases, a parent might not want their children to see a woman walking around in public with her exposed chests (McIntyre et al. 18). Therefore, because of the desire to instill discipline and proper growth in the child such a scenario might put the parent in an awkward position. Indeed, according to an international study, mothers are sometimes made to feel marginalized and ashamed when they, therefore, breastfeed in public (McIntyre et al. 20).

In most countries across the world, breastfeeding remains the only natural means that children can acquire nourishment. Therefore, most women in many societies prefer to breastfeed their babies as it provides the most convenient, natural, and cost-effective method to feed their toddlers. According to Boyer (2012), when a child is born, there exist negative emotions for the new mothers when they try breastfeeding in the hospital because of the staffs' actions and comment. Indeed, the majority of the parents feared that if they breastfeed in public, they would be frowned at or appear weird. However, it is important to note that continuous breastfeeding for at least 12 months offers health benefits to both the child and the mother. According to the NHS, the breastfeeding children experience fewer bouts of vomits and diarrhea, ear infections, and they have fewer chances of becoming obese. Further, the mothers who breastfeed have lower risks of ovarian and breast cancer (Yapp).

Evidently, all human beings should have access to nutrients in their diets all the time as such the infants should eat every few hours. Though nursing females might feel embarrassed to breastfeed in public, it is imperative for them to realize that in most of the cultures across the globe, the exposure of breasts in public does not hold any sexual connotation as they are for the sole purpose of feeding the infants (Yapp). Therefore, mothers cannot neglect their babies because of the feelings of other people and doing so should be viewed as a form of child abuse and neglect, which in most countries is against the law. One of the arguments against breastfeeding in public is some women overexpose themselves while in the act of breastfeeding making other people feel embarrassed. In such a scenario, the nursing mother can prefer a bit of discretion by covering or draping the baby with a shawl.

In the United States of America for example, many public places such as restaurants, places of work, and shopping centers discriminate against women that breastfeed in public (Murtagh and Moulton 220). In extreme cases, the management asks the nursing mother to leave the area and breastfeed in the washrooms. It indicates an ongoing trend of lack of support to the nursing mothers as such putting the life of the young child in jeopardy. Though the introduction of personalized rooms for the nursing mothers can offer an option, it is of no importance to make parents feel segregated from the everyday life. Indeed, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends 12 months of exclusive breastfeeding, and this should be whenever the infant dictates (Murtagh and Moulton 222). By denying the mother the chance to breastfeed her child, then this can affect the future generations as they can grow in a society that has stereotypes about breastfeeding.

In the present-day world and with the emergence of formula milk, most people, therefore, feel that breastfeeding is not counterproductive. Apparently, it is the view of the majority of individuals that a nursing mother should take bottles of formula milk with them in public as breast milk does not offer better nutritional value than formula milk. Such unwarranted thoughts and opinions have made people shame nursing mothers as such denying them the opportunity to feed their child. According to Rosin (2017), the author indicates that there are a lot of benefits of breastfeeding to the mother and the child. Indeed, the benefits of breastfeeding the child until they reach the appropriate time of weaning benefit not only the child but also the parents as the child thrive without having serious ailments that would render them hospitalized. For the infants, breast milk is very easy to digest, and it contains essential nutrients that boost the child’s immunity thus assisting in the fight against diseases.

Studies conducted on babies nursed with formula milk indicate that they have many instances of ear infection and diarrhea (Rosin). The healthier the baby in their formative years the higher the chance of leading healthier lives in later years. A healthier baby has ripple effects on the mother, and this, therefore, translates to fewer visits to the hospitals as such utilizing their finances in other important avenues (Rosin). Thus by denying the mother the chance to breastfeed her child in public, it would have a domino effect on the whole chain. For example, when the nursing mothers resort to formula milk, which is in most cases packaged in plastics, this would translate to more waste, higher health care costs meaning more money from the taxpayers to fund the expensive healthcare bill and more instances of maternal and infant death. As a society, it is imperative to assist the nursing mothers who in many ways continuously contribute to the wellness and health of our country through simple actions such as breastfeeding. By coming to terms with the fact that breastfeeding is a natural act of feeding, then the mothers can manage to take care of their babies whenever they choose and thus empowering them together with other nursing mothers with confidence.


Because breastfeeding offers a comprehensive platform of benefits not only for the baby but also the moms, it is therefore important for intergovernmental organizations to assist the general populace that has reservations on public breastfeeding in embracing this natural way of feeding the young ones. Such actions can ensure that the children lead healthier lives than when they use artificial feeding methods. Further, the United States of America government should come up and create more acts that protect the rights of mothers and their babies with the nursing mothers also helping to raise awareness on the importance of breastfeeding to those people that fail to understand. Apparently, breastfeeding in public does not harm anyone but rather benefits the mother and the child, and as such, mothers should breastfeed without shame and the fear of reprisal from the public.  

Works Cited

Boyer, Kate. "Affect, corporeality and the limits of belonging: breastfeeding in public in the contemporary UK." Health & place 18.3 (2012): 552-560.

McIntyre, Ellen, Janet E. Hiller, and Deborah Turnbull. "Attitudes towards infant feeding among adults in a low socioeconomic community: what social support is there for breastfeeding?." Breastfeeding Review 9.1 (2001): 13.

Murtagh, Lindsey, and Anthony D. Moulton. "Working mothers, breastfeeding, and the law." American Journal of Public Health 101.2 (2011): 217-223.

Rosin, Hanna. "The Case against Breast-Feeding." The Atlantic. N.p., 2009. Web. 19 Sept. 2017.

Yapp, Robin. "Breastfeeding In Public 'Still Frowned Upon'." Mail Online. N.p., 2014. Web. 19 Sept. 2017.

July 29, 2022


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