When a woman in a Target store in Houston began breastfeeding her infant son, she was asked by employees to move to a fitting room. She wrote about the incident on Facebook, and soon after, hundreds of people staged a “nurse in” at Target outlets across the country, breastfeeding their babies.
TV personality Barbara Walters remarked one time that she felt uncomfortable sitting next to a breastfeeding mother on an airplane trip. Some 200 mothers showed up outside the tv studio the next day for a “nurse in.”
These two episodes illustrate the stark contrast in views in America about breastfeeding in public: while many people like to view the nude bodies of Hollywood stars on the Internet, many others remain highly squeamish about the sight of women breastfeeding their children in stores, on airplanes or in restaurants.
The divisions about the issue are sharp, so much so that legislation regarding breastfeeding varies from state to state. To many, a 1999 federal law seems weak. It says only that no government funds may be used to enforce prohibition on women breastfeeding their children in federal buildings or on federal property.
To some, President Barack Obama’s landmark legislation, the Affordable Care Act, also seems iffy on the issue. It requires employers to provide “a reasonable break time” to breastfeeding women, but only if the child is less than one year old. The law also says a woman must be allowed to breastfeed in private, but adds the employer is not required to pay her during that break time.
For some women, the issue has become so intense that they have formed an organization, called “Badass Breastfeeders of Atlanta.” Recently, about 50 members of the group held a “Big Latch On” event where they nursed together in public and were joined by their families and even some passersby.
Their message, according to a banner they held high: “Nursing is Normal Anytime, Anywhere, Any Way.”
Of course, not everyone agrees. Even an editor at a top parenting magazine described breastfeeding in a highly-negative way, describing it as “creepy,” and told her readers that she bottlefed her child from birth because “I wanted my body back.”
But more and more women are posting photos on Social Media sites displaying how they breastfeed their children, and the pictures are taken in public places. The women say they feel pride in the breastfeeding act, arguing not only is there nothing “obscene” or “immoral” about it, but that their babies are healthier drinking their mother’s milk.
But the debate is far from over. In a survey by the American Dietetic Association, only 43 percent of the 3,719 people who responded said they believed women should have rhe right to breastfeed in public. The majority were negative on the question.
What side of the line do you fall on? Have you seen photos of celebrities, family members or friends on Social Media sites breastfeeding? Were you okay with it or did it bother you? Please leave yours thoughts in the comments section below.