Sitting on a park bench, she nurses her infant while the toddlers play. How convenient, the baby’s fed and the kids are happy. When loud noise at the airport scares the baby, the mother nuzzles her close and comforts her with breastfeeding. How convenient, the baby’s calmed and the day continues.
Breastfeeding is normal and it’s possible to do anytime, any place. Problems arise when women don’t have ‘any time’ or ‘any place’ at work. Some women have successfully challenged those limitations and won lawsuits.
Problems also arise when others in the public are uncomfortable and harass a mother and child. In prenatal classes, partners are sometimes concerned if it’s legal to breastfeed in public.
A mother being told to leave or to stop feeding, at a store, on an airplane, or various places, has led to ‘nurse-ins’. This gets a fair amount of press and does educate the general public. Honestly, though, most people don’t need or want a large scale protest, they just want to feed their child.
What positive experiences have you had with breastfeeding outside your home?
Send your stories to firstname.lastname@example.org. Even better if you have a photo of a business or place where you were comfortable breastfeeding. Let’s promote the simply positive events. Encourage new families that this is normal, legal and so convenient.
Public buildings are now required to provide a lactation room. The Fairness for Breastfeeding Mothers Act of 2019, sponsored by Senator Eleanor Holmes Norton, was recently signed into law. It states:
“…buildings that are open to the public and contain a public restroom provide a lactation room, other than a bathroom, that is hygienic and is available for use by members of the public to express milk. The lactation room must be shielded from public view, be free from intrusion, and contain a chair, a working surface, and (if the building is supplied with electricity) an electrical outlet.”
Partners can help normalize breastfeeding outside the home. Simply sit by her side and/or suggest the offended person to look away. I’ve heard a few clever retorts. I especially like the knitted infant cap that looks like a breast.
Families understand this and can advocate for what makes a difference. Breastfeeding happens at home, in a library or park, at work, in Congress… any time, any place. Breastfeeding is a normal.