Breastfeeding in Public – The Debate

The debate on public breastfeeding tends to spark controversy. Opposers find it to be off-putting and inconsiderate. Mothers and supporters of public breastfeeding are often emphatic about the benefits. Supporters contend that it’s not only the best start in their child’s development, but also supports the bond between mother and baby.

Many mothers who decide to breastfeed in public argue that as the process is so natural and key to the health of new born children, it shouldn’t be considered offensive in any way. Opposers argue that urination and sex are also natural processes which remain inappropriate in the public eye. Much of the issue with public breastfeeding centres on sexualisation of the female breasts. Which leads some to consider it to be a matter of indecent exposure. We’re used to western media using breasts as a sex symbol. And so, it is easy to understand where the connection to sex derives from. However, many argue that to remove breastfeeding from the public eye will only further the disassociation of breasts from nurturing. Consequently, furthering the association between the breasts and sex. Many contend that to re-enforce the actual anatomical purpose of breasts, breastfeeding should be a more common public practice.

Some who oppose breastfeeding in public feel that mothers can cover their breast with a blanket while their child feeds. However, some argue that adults don’t eat with a blanket over their head and nor should a new born baby. Moreover, many find that covering up infers an inherent level of shame in breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding in Restaurants

The argument intensifies when questioning whether mothers should breastfeed openly in restaurants. Opposers of public breastfeeding find that it is incredibly off-putting to them. Supporters contend that infant children cannot withstand any long lengths of time without feeding. Therefore, to ban it would make it more difficult for mothers of infants to eat out. While some argue that restrooms should be used to breastfeed, it is understandable why this might not be appealing to mothers. New born children are more prone to illnesses, and so eating around by bacteria can be harmful.

In many cases infants don’t like to feed from a bottle, and so this is not always an option for mothers. While those against public breastfeeding often feel that they have a lot of alternatives to offer mothers, they are not always possible. Those who support it don’t see why alternatives are necessary when a simple, natural process is available.

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