Breastfeeding in Public: The Debate Rages On
By Brenda Rees

ABBE was minding own business when asked … there were “complaints.” The security guard at her local mall said Dotson making other customers uncomfortable, and needed to stop what she was doing or leave the premises.
le="FONT-FAMILY: Verdana">Was Dotson picking a fight? Had she dressed inappropriately? Was she noisily disrupting other shoppers or shouting obscenities in the bustling food court?

le="FONT-FAMILY: Verdana">No, Dotson was doing the simple act of bonding with her then-5-month-old daughter – she was breastfeeding.

le="FONT-FAMILY: Verdana">“The guard approached me and told me that I had to ‘cover up,’ ” recalls Dotson, who was momentarily stunned with the demand. Her daughter, Ruby, was a “gymnastic eater” who did not like to be covered when breastfeeding. Dotson and the guard bantered back and forth, and Dotson finally told the guard that “no one has to watch!” Dotson was shaken by the experience. “I eventually made my way out,” she says, “but as I walked, I found myself subsequently getting really upset about this. I mean, I felt like I had committed a crime.”

Is It Wrong to Breastfeed in Public?
Indeed, many breastfeeding women do feel like they are under public scrutiny when they nurse outside of their own home. But since infants require feeding as often as every two hours, planning one’s day around a nursing schedule can be very limiting, sometimes even impossible.

le="FONT-FAMILY: Verdana">With more mothers opting to breastfeed these days, (nearly 70 percent of women are breastfeeding when leaving hospitals, according to a recent study by Ross Laboratory’s Mother’s Survey), some women sense that all eyes are upon them when they are out in the open.

le="FONT-FAMILY: Verdana">While many women easily brush aside the glances, stares and smirks, others find that societal attitudes are shaming and brazenly ignorant – and not worth the trouble that breastfeeding brings.

le="FONT-FAMILY: Verdana">And even though the American Academy of Pedeatrics highly endorses breastfeeding for the baby’s first year, some women – despite all good intentions — find it difficult. They discover that the baby doesn’t latch on right away, it is time consuming for the mother and there are issues of going back to work later and carrying around clunky equipment to express and store breast milk.

The final straw for some women can be a reluctance to deal with a society that can be unsympathetic to breastfeeding in public.


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