Nursing in Public
A controversial topic that has been occurring throughout the decade is whether or not mothers should be allowed to breastfeed in public. Although many may think breastfeeding in public should not be allowed, breastfeeding in public is, in fact, legal and protected by federal law.1
In the federal law, it states that a mother can nurse whenever her baby is hungry.1 Regardless of where an individual lives, the mother is entitled to breastfeed anywhere (except in a moving car, where an infant must be secured according to safety regulations). Breastfeeding in public is also not a criminal offense, and a mother exposing her breasts in public to nurse her infant is not considered indecent exposure. Additionally, a mother has extra protections on the grounds of federal property. A federal legislation passed in 1999 guarantees that nursing is always allowed on federal property. A mother’s employer must also allow her to nurse during work breaks. Day care centers must also provide nursing facilities. Furthermore, all nursing mothers are also exempt from jury duty.
In addition to knowing their rights about nursing their infants in public, some tips could also help the mothers nurse more confidently and comfortably in public.1 To allow the baby an easy access to his or her meal in public, mothers should opt for two-piece outfits, such as a shirt and pants or a top and a skirt. The mother should also practice breastfeeding her infant before she does so in public. She should have the baby latch on while using a mirror to observe how much exposure the mother is getting. If she is not comfortable with the full-frontal view, she can practice turning to the side. Using a sling may also make breastfeeding easier for the mother. A sling helps make public breastfeeding extremely discreet, as others may think the infant is just sleeping. Placing a shawl or poncho over a mother’s shoulder that drapes over the infant’s head may also help the mother be discreet while breastfeeding in public. This may attract less attention and help the mother become comfortable while nursing her infant in public.
Although nursing in public has become a controversial topic in recent years, mothers should know their nursing rights and be comfortable while feeding their baby in public.