Come on America – loosen up! They’re just boobs!

Nearly 4 years ago when my son, Matty was 12 weeks old, I was shopping with my sister-in-law at Loehman’s in downtown Chicago. We were trying on shoes on the 2nd floor of the store when Matty woke up and started fussing.

I conveniently found a seat at the end of a shoes isle that faced a wall and discretely nursed him while still chatting to my sister-in-law as she tried on shoes. And let me define discretely for you. Unlike breastfeeding in Australia where we whip the boob out in all it’s glory regardless of whether we are in a restaurant, at the beach or in a shopping mall, I was aware that things were more conservative here in the US so I was hiding him under a baby blanket that I had slung around my neck. i.e. not a breast to be seen!

I was absolutely shocked when the store manager approached me and told me that I could either feed in a fitting room or leave the store.  I was speechless (and that doesn’t happen often) – the only thing I could muster was ‘Are you kidding me?” I was kinda looking for the candid cameras to be revealed but instead was told that a customer had complained. Considering that I was in the women’s shoe area I can only assume that the complaint was from a woman!!  A woman who was offended by the mere thought of a baby feeding from my breast. Really? I had never considered that I should be hidden away to nurse.  Besides, there was far more breast exposed on the Victoria Secret billboard across the street that seem to bother no-one.

Yesterday I came across this article in the San Francisco Chronicle where a Bus driver in Detroit told a mother nursing her 2 week old baby to cover up or get off the bus. When she refused, security officers were called onto the bus to question her.

The Michigan bus incident has reignited the debate over women nursing in public. Readers of the Detroit Free Press are speaking out for and against breastfeeding in public:

Methodman: writes: “Women like Afrykayan Moon should be celebrated, not made to feel like they’re doing something wrong. Breast feeding is one of the greatest gifts a mother can provide to her child. In addition, it is completely natural and is a time that the mother and child can bond together. Keep up the fight Ms. Moon – you are doing the right thing!!!”

Skittybob disagrees: “I’m a woman and I’m with you — I have nothing against breast feeding, but I’m not interested in seeing it. Just like I’m not interested in seeing a diaper changed in public. It’s not sexual, so I’m not bothered by that aspect, either. I’m just really tired of all the mommies out there that think they own the world just because they spit out a baby. You had the baby, they’re life-changing, so figure out how to feed it, change it, and whatever else needs doing without subjecting me to it.”


My first 2 babies were born in Australia where mothers get to spend almost a week in the hospital after giving birth. During that time they attend classes about caring for a baby, bathing, breastfeeding, postnatal exercises. We have a midwife with us at every feed to ensure the baby is latching on correctly. They do everything possible to work with you, your baby and your breasts, including a home visit after 2 weeks to see how you’re coping. Unless you have a physical problem that prevents you from breastfeeding, it is assumed that you will begin to nurse.

My last 2 babies were born in Chicago. I had a 4 night stays due to  C-section deliveries. Formula was not only offered to me from day one, but samples were waiting in my room. When the baby was unsettled, formula was offered as a possible solution.


I’m not a ‘hippy-Helen earth mother’ who believes that every mother should breastfeed until their kids go to school. I don’t judge people who choose not to nurse and I don’t have anything against formula. Like most areas of motherhood, I believe you do what works for you. I just think it’s interesting to see the cultural differences between Australia and the US that begins in the hospital and continues with the reaction of society to women breastfeeding in public.

A Facebook page, called Earthy Motherhood started by a Doule based in Melbourne, Australia who shares tips and advice on anything natural has been shut down more than once by Facebook who feel that the photographs posted are not appropriate. If you are offended by the site of a mother breastfeeding, this is not the page for you with over 4000 fans who regularly share photographs of their nursing children. One fan, who had a photograph removed by Facebook fought back and created this video.

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I thought it was pretty funny myself – what do you think about the whole breastfeeding in public debate? How do you feel about breastfeeding in public?



  1. Penny said...

    Babies should be allowed to eat wherever and whenever they are hungry, whether it be a bus, shoe store, cafe or even (gasp) the workplace.
    Rednecks should look the other way.

    Jul 07, 2011 at 4:13 pm
  2. Tess Kennedy said...

    “I’m just really tired of all the mommies out there that think they own the world just because they spit out a baby. You had the baby, they’re life-changing, so figure out how to feed it, change it, and whatever else needs doing without subjecting me to it.”
    Wow! I realize this is the radical view, but to vilify woman who have babies as self-indulgent narcissists when it is necessary to feed or change publicly? That seems extreme.
    Perhaps we need a celebrity to champion the cause of breastfeeding? Public perception of the pregnant female form changed after Demi Moore appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair. In the 20 years since, pregnant woman no longer feel they need to “hide” the bump under loose clothes as our mothers did. It would interesting to see how public attitudes would be shaped if Natalie Portman, for example, was photographed breastfeeding?

    Jul 11, 2011 at 8:05 pm
  3. Celeste said...

    My thought has always been, which would you rather have: a screaming hungry infant or the possibility of seeing a breast in a non-sexual fashion?
    I’ve breastfed both my children in public (separately) and consistently covered up with blankets (even if it made breastfeeding more uncomfortable for us both). Even with my high level discretion, the amount of demonizing looks I receive while feeding my child is overwhelming to the point that if my 2mo daughter is hungry all I want to do is go home. Thankfully my husband and his family have been nothing but supportive when it comes to breastfeeding, if they hadn’t been I’m not sure I would’ve been able or willing to breastfeed.

    Absolutely agree with Tess above, there should be some actresses breastfeeding in public every once in a while. It might inspire some people to consider it for their own children.

    Jul 26, 2011 at 5:19 pm
  4. Anita Kellogg said...

    I am an Aussie living in the USA at present but my daughter was born in Sydney. Being able to breast feed her from the start was the most wonderful thing for both of us. I never encountered any problems at home but did here when we were back and forth and some of them frighteningly came from my mother in law. She would apologize for me when I would breast feed and my daughter wasn’t even two.
    I presently live in Austin Texas and things here are much more open and accepted like they are in Australia but the rest of the US needs to lighten up. Learn fom others and realize what is so natural and the best thing we can do for our children.

    Apr 02, 2012 at 12:48 pm
    • HipMum said...

      I hear you! Fully agree.

      Apr 02, 2012 at 11:20 pm

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