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Is breastfeeding in public still unacceptable?

Monica Beyer is a mom of four and has been writing professionally since 2000, when her first book, Baby Talk, was published. Her main area of interest is attachment parenting and all that goes with it, including breastfeeding, co-sleepin...

Moms speak out on nursing in public

With the recent uproar over mom Natalie Hegedus and her humiliating experience of being reprimanded by a judge for breastfeeding in a Michigan courtroom, the question still begs to be asked -- is nursing in public something to be ashamed of, or does the public need to chill out and let a mother feed her baby? We break down the ins and outs of nursing in public and found out how real moms feel about it. Read on!

woman-breastfeeds-baby-in-court

Natalie's story got out via a post on BabyCenter and quickly rocketed around the internet to become national news, as well as a point of contention between those who champion a mother's right to breastfeed her baby wherever she goes and those who would prefer her to cover up or not do it at all.

Natalie Hegedus breastfed her baby after waiting two hours for her turn to appear in a courtroom in Michigan. When the judge learned of her breastfeeding in court, he asked her whether she thought it was appropriate. Natalie felt it was, but the judge disagreed.

There are currently no laws prohibiting mothers from breastfeeding their babies in public in the United States, and 45 states have laws that specifically protect a mother's right to breastfeed her baby any place that she legally has a right to be. (If you're curious about your state, you can read the legal info.) That being said, it is still a hot topic that not everyone agrees on, based on what we learned.

Any time, any where

Many moms say that it's always okay to breastfeed in public on demand. Leah said, "A baby's need to eat trumps an adult not wanting to see it every time. When a baby is hungry, you feed them."

Melissa echoed the sentiment, and McErin said, "The alternative is letting the baby scream so the moron who has sexualized the boob isn't offended. I'm doing what nature intended." Angela makes another point -- "How is breastfeeding in public wrong and sexy magazines in the grocery store (for kids to see) fine?"

Cover up, please

Discretion seemed to be a major sticking point with several of the moms we interviewed. Jenna said, "I believe nursing in public is ok, babies have to eat -- but I believe in using a cover or blanket."

Nicole agreed and said, "I would expect a certain discretion as far as using some sort of cover or blanket so your business isn't hanging out."

Other mothers defined discretion differently. Kelly shared, "By discretion, I don't mean a cover... I mean, using your hand to cover your nipple if baby pops off. That is about as discreet as I get." Jolene has the same idea: "When you are feeding on the left boob, the right boob doesn't have to be exposed."

No way, no how

Some other mothers were very much against the idea. Lisa said, "Like it or not, there is a sexual aspect to it, and does your husband want you parading your breasts in front of everyone?"

And Eric, not a mom but having an opinion of his own, said, "Deal with it, find a secluded area and everyone remains happy."

Keeping it real

Amy, mother of four children, sums up her feelings realistically. "I think we have perverted something that was never meant to be that way. In big fancy cathedrals, no one puts a blanket over the stained glass windows depicting Mary feeding Jesus."

And Tony has a solution to this issue. "I think more women should breastfeed uncovered so we, society, can get used to it and learn not make a big fuss over it."

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