Many opponents of nursing in public wonder why the mother can’t simply pump a bottle beforehand or throw a blanket over herself and her baby. The truth is, it isn’t that easy.
Breastfeeding — covered or not — is often the only way a mom can feed her baby, and here’s why.
Nursing in public has become a hotly-contested right among Americans, and although it is protected by law in 45 out of the 50 states, issues still pop up — mothers are still asked to cover up, move to the restroom or leave the premises while nursing their children. One of the rallying cries of those opposed is, “Why can’t she just cover up?” Others wonder why the mom can’t simply pump milk into a bottle beforehand instead of nursing. The fact is, it isn’t that simple.
Covering up sounds so easy — just toss a blanket over your shoulder and your baby’s head and everyone is happy — your baby is fed and no one can see your boobs. The truth is that moms are not required to cover up, and you can breastfeed discreetly even without a large blanket draped over your baby. In fact, a nursing cover broadcasts to everyone that you are breastfeeding (many nursing in public controversies take place even though a mom was covered), while simply lifting up your top and latching her on often doesn’t even get a second glance.
Also, some babies dislike being covered. Think about it — would you enjoy eating with a blanket or towel covering your head — especially while you were cuddled up next to someone? Even in cooler weather, it can get hot and sweaty quickly under a cover, and the babe in question is not able to settle down to comfortably nurse, which results in even more attention being drawn to Mom.
It’s also a hassle moms don’t always have the time — or the extra hands — to deal with. Kelley, mom of two, told us, “I have to hold my baby, hold my breast to help him latch, hold the cover and also hold on to my 1-year-old, not to mention the diaper bag, shopping cart, plus countless other child-related things that mommies have to keep track of.”
Pumping is an entirely different matter. Pumping requires a breast pump of course, which can be expensive, but also bottles, a place to store the milk, and the ability to warm it up to give to the baby. Some moms struggle to get milk from a pump because as wonderful as breast pumps are, they are not babies. Even if you get a good response from your pump, you likely won’t be getting the same amount of milk — babies are just more efficient at emptying your breasts. And skipping a feeding from the breast while you are out can cause engorgement or mastitis. Last but certainly not least, some babies won’t take a bottle.
“The best thing about breastfeeding is that it’s always ready to go,” shared Rachelle, mother of two and the mom behind Unlatched. “It’s the right temperature and you don’t really need any supplies to do it. Pumping a bottle may sound like it’s easy to do, but it’s not. Pumps are expensive, many moms are not able to get milk while pumping, and skipping feedings while out in public can actually affect their milk supply.”
Decades ago, before bottle feeding and formula became the new norm for new moms, it was not a big deal for babies to be fed from the breast wherever Mom happened to be — like this mother waiting at a train station. Even when there is more breast exposure in film, advertisements and your local pool, breastfeeding continues to be seen as something that should take place behind closed doors. With more moms nursing in public, and more citizens being educated on the laws, hopefully breastfeeding a baby will someday be as unremarkable as bottle feeding a little one.