Nancy Solomon. “Breastfeeding in Public Is a Basic Civil Right.” WEnews. August 7, 2002: “Asking a breastfeeding mother to nurse in a bathroom or cover herself up is an unnecessary barrier to breastfeeding and the mere fear of such intervention causes many mothers to either never begin breastfeeding or to prematurely wean their infants.”
Lindsey Nelson. “Breastfeeding Mothers Deserve Freedom of Movement.” FirstRight Advisory Council Member on Opposing Views: “There is no question that feelings of social isolation and loneliness are pervasive among new mothers. Maintaining an active social life outside the home is one way to combat these feelings. There is also no question that keeping up with the demands of children and a family require mothers to be out and about. Women with children are essential to a healthy culture, which necessitates their integration into public life; they should not be sequestered while feeding and nurturing their children.
In a September 2006 speech to members of the grassroots organization MomsRising, President-elect Barack Obama observed that in our country, “Despite all the rhetoric about being family-friendly, we have structured a society that is profoundly family unfriendly.” This statement certainly applies to our culture’s lack of acceptance for women breastfeeding their children in public.
Women with young children have the need and desire to be actively involved in the world around them and should enjoy the freedom of movement and activity that the rest of society takes for granted. Those who argue against a woman’s right to breastfeed in public unduly burden breastfeeding mothers with greatly restricted freedom of movement and social interaction.
In order to achieve an optimal breastfeeding relationship, it is recommended that women breastfeed their child directly from the breast at the first hunger cues. Children, especially the youngest babies, do not often have predictable feeding schedules and should not be required to wait to be fed or nurtured. It is not uncommon for a child to nurse for twenty or more minutes at a time and sometimes as often as once every hour or two. Pumping milk into bottles for when the family is away from home, attempting to time outings around feedings or to slip away to a restroom or vehicle force mothers and children into isolation, may be detrimental to a successful breastfeeding relationship and are unrealistic expectations.
In this country most of us are confronted on a daily basis with activities, statements, lifestyles, etc that are offensive to us. Most of the time, the “offending” party is well within their rights to engage in their behavior, which is certainly the case with breastfeeding mothers and children. That is the challenge and beauty of living in a free society. If we begin requesting that those who are offensive to us hide or change or otherwise cease what they are doing, we are at risk of becoming all too similar to oppressive cultures worldwide that we are often so quick to criticize. If we, as a society, are interested in the health of our families, our future, and our culture, we need to fully embrace mothers and children, including those who breastfeed, rather than force them into hiding.”