Breastfeeding in Public: A Doula's Thoughts

It's World Breastfeeding Week!  And, if you haven't heard, there are now laws in all 50 states protecting women breastfeeding in public.  It was a pretty big news story last week, and I was actually contacted by WBOC (our local news station) to be interviewed with some of our clients about our thoughts on the new legislation.  It turned out that the interview didn't work out due to unforeseen events that came up for WBOC.  But, since I had been giving it so much thought, I decided to share some of those thoughts here. 


Obviously, we support women breastfeeding wherever their babies need fed.  And if I'm being honest, part of me wanted to be a little snarky and sarcastic.  "Gee, THANKS for permission to feed my kid with my own body in the mall."  LOL! But, that wouldn't have gone over well.

When we get right down to it, the most obvious points come up and we've all heard them before:  Our babies deserve to be fed.  We deserve to not have to sit in a toilet stall to feed our kids.  If we're more comfortable with a cover or in a private setting, then we should use a cover or go to a private setting.   If we're more comfortable (or our babies are more comfortable) without a cover, then we shouldn't use one.  Breasts are designed to feed babies.  Breasts are not just used for sexual purposes.  Breastfeeding is not sexual.  If you don't like to see it, just don't watch.  

They are all true.  But when I was pondering the larger issue, I started thinking about my own transition to becoming a mother.  Motherhood is this all-consuming metamorphosis.  You are different forever, in an instant.  You have a completely new identity.  Your old friends might not call you anymore.  You don't have the freedom to do the things you once did with your time.  Everyone is giving you advice or judging your parenting/birth/feeding choices.  Your body has changed and it will never go back. Your brain chemistry has changed and it will never go back.  You probably don't have the amount of support that you need and deserve (in our culture, anyway). You've gone through a rite of passage and rites of passage are not designed to be easy!  Motherhood is hard and overwhelming and beautiful and ever-changing.  

This complete transformation often leaves us feeling lonely.  And confused. And overwhelmed with love and with frustation.  And anxious.  And we're healing physically and mentally and all of our time is consumed with taking care of our babies.  And breastfeeding is HARD ENOUGH!

To ask a woman who is in the middle of the most intense transition and metamorphosis that exists on Earth to further seclude herself just to meet the non-stop needs of her new baby is unethical and inhumane. 

(Can you tell I have big feelings about this topic?)

Women are designed to thrive in communities.  And with other women.   It is in our DNA to go through this mothering journey IN COMMUNITY.  Doing it alone is *impossible*.

What are your thoughts about breastfeeding in public?