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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Breastfeeding... in public

Since this is the Christmas season, it was absolutely necessary for me to take little Ezra on a shopping trip this week.  And no matter how much I planned ahead, I ended up spending more time than I'd planned, which meant Ezra got hungry... at the mall.

I won't mention the name of the mall but for those of you familiar with the area that I'm in, it is a mall that is very close to my house and bears the name of a certain gemstone.

With a screaming baby, I calmly walked to the main desk at the mall and asked if there was a mother's room or a place in the mall that would work for breastfeeding.  The young man at the desk said "No, but JC Penney's bathrooms are fairly clean."

Ummmm, would you eat your lunch there????

Can you just picture me, sitting on the toilet in the bathroom feeding a baby.  Very sanitary.

I was surprised that he couldn't point me in the direction of one of those bathrooms with a lounge area like you might find in a Nordstrom, and I wasn't aware of one that wasn't actually inside the bathroom.  So this means I'm going to breastfeed in public.

I found a lonely bench outside of Sears, covered up, and started feeding the baby.  What surprised me the most, was how obviously uncomfortable I made many of the other shoppers.  Many would look at me and then quickly look away, I even got a few dirty looks.

Anyone who knows me, knows that in situations like these - I tend to speak my mind.  I almost whipped the cover off and started feeding him out in the open, but nudity isn't my thing, even if it's incidental.  Plus, I don't want to make a scene and I still had a lot of shopping to do so getting kicked out wasn't really an option either. 

I'm surprised, in these days, where you can watch a TV program that shows scenes that are basically soft-core pornography at 9 pm on a weeknight - people were throwing me dirty looks for feeding my kid with my boob in public. Yeesh.

I'm also surprised that in all my years of frequenting said mall, even four years of working there, that I've seldom seen a mom breastfeeding her baby.  I've since been told that one of the stores might have one of those lounge areas, I will be checking that out another day.  You can be sure I'm going to write the mall a letter in the meantime!

So, I'm curious.  What are your thoughts on breastfeeding in public? Never? maybe? covered? uncovered? only in certain places? 

FYI, if you want to leave a comment and you don't use google whatever, you can leave it anonymously and just put your name, or not.  :)


  1. With my first, I was very shy and always tried to find somewhere discret like a dressing room or something, but with my 2nd, I really didn't have time to go searching for places like that, so I would do exactly what you did. I find absolutely NOTHING wrong with breastfeeding in pubic, when you are covered. I could understand if you were flashing your boob around that it may cause people to be uncomfortable, but if you are covered, then it's not your problem. Baby needs to eat and you are only providing that. I so go for it and try not to think about what other people are thinking.
    P.S. I breastfed at the zoo, at restaurants, at the park, at the mall, you name it and I really tried not to care what people thought and it really made it a whole lot easier on everyone! Good luck!

  2. Alicia Jeanne O'DwyerDecember 15, 2010 at 10:51 AM

    I try to cover up in public mainly because I'm a somewhat modest person and that's just how I role. However, it doesn't faze me a bit to see other mom's boobs hangin out there. In most states, I believe including in RI, it is completely legal to breastfeed anywhere mothers are allowed, which means everywhere. Indecent exposure laws do not apply to breastfeeding mothers (though I'm not sure you could get away with stripping completely bareass naked to breastfeed in public) :-) Which means all those other mall patrons are just gonna have to get over themselves. I've always meant to print up Jersey state law regarding BFing and carry it around with me in case some stupid shop owner ever tried to give me the boot while feeding Jem, but it hasn't happened yet.

    I was once BFing Jem in my own car in the parking lot outside of my midwife's office. A woman walked by with her two kids, and just because, again, I am modest, I moved my hand to cover my boob. The woman called out to me "Thank you," and both my husband and I swore there was a sarcastic note to her voice. Chris really wanted to go confront her, but I told him to let it go. But seriously, if they try to make you feel bad in your own car outside a midwife's office, of all places (why was she even staring into my car that closely to begin with?), they'll try it anywhere, you just have to stay tough and know it's your right!

  3. Alicia Jeanne O'DwyerDecember 15, 2010 at 10:53 AM

    *roll, not role, and moms', not mom's. Geez, my spelling really slipped in those first two lines! :-)


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