parenting babble

Raise Your Hand If You Agree with This Solution to Breastfeeding in Public

And rightly so — a baby’s got to eat. The real shame, though, is that more isn’t being made out of the fact that nursing moms have so few accommodations made for them. Just because Mom’s breast milk isn’t on the menu doesn’t mean it can’t and shouldn’t be served under that roof. There are laws saying women can breastfeed wherever they want, but what if what they want is to do it somewhere without an audience? California is considering a law that would require lactation rooms in airports — clean, private rooms where babies may be nursed or mothers may pump. Other laws are already in effect that give working women spaces of their own to express breast milk while they’re on the clock. You can’t demand a baby eat lunch just because you decide it’s midday and the sandwiches are ready — at home. Kick, yell and scream but the hungry baby will always trump your preferences. Both moms who nurse with a cover or blanket and those who just hike up their shirts and go for it should have options. Employees must wash hands before returning to work. Why aren’t lactation rooms (and, for that matter, changing rooms in female and male restrooms — all of them, everywhere) a given? (And before anyone can say it, toilets, or even chairs in bathrooms, are not acceptable feeding places. They’re just not.)
The real shame in public breastfeeding isn’t the act of breastfeeding in public, but that there are so few options for women who might not want to be doing it for the world to see. It’s depicted in art. In literature. On big and small screens. In real life. Plenty of women don’t choose to do it, but so many others opt in. I’m not saying that means it can’t be seen if it needs to — anyone objecting to a nursing child can simply avert their eyes or walk away — but there are plenty of ways to be discreet if your choice is to err on the side of modesty or be respectful of the fact that perhaps the time and location of some feedings might warrant a modicum of judiciousness. Give Starbucks a round of applause for lauding the employee who jumped to the defense of a nursing mom. But go a step further and give them all your business if they add lactation rooms to their more than 11,000 stores across the United States. And for those nursing moms who choose not to use them even if they’re provided and those around them who are still bothered, there’s a special place for the latter, too — it’s called somewhere else. As in go there. Image courtesy of ThinkStock
More from Meredith on Babble:
To the Parents of all Those 18- to 34-year-olds Still Living at Home: You’re Doing it All Wrong
Just Because Some Babies are ‘Born in the Wild’ Doesn’t Mean We Need to Watch
“Wake Me Up When I’m Skinny” T-Shirt is Not Worth Getting Your Panties in a Bunch Over
Follow Meredith on Twitter and check out her regular column on the op-ed page of The Denver Post at

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