Breastfeeding in Public

Last month, a woman was chastised online for breastfeeding her child at her own college graduation.

Karlesha Thurman, 25, received her degree from California State University, Long Beach in May. After crossing the stage to receive her degree, Thurman returned to her seat and fed her daughter who was hungry.

She didn’t exactly cover up, but tell me you haven’t seen more boob on a Victoria’s Secret sign in the mall.

breastfeedinginpublic

Source: KTDaRockSta/Facebook via Today.com

A friend took the above photo, and Thurman eventually posted on her Facebook page. When the picture went viral, some people told the mother to cover up or shamed her for daring to feed her child in public. Still others commended her for graduating and choosing a healthy path for her child.

You can probably tell what side of the fence I am on.

As a breastfeeding mama myself, I tout the phrase “breast is best”. Breastfeeding is not for everyone, and I think moms (and families) should be allowed to make their own choices on how they feed their children. I also know for many of my friends, breastfeeding was not an option. But when it is, it is a healthy choice for your child and an incredible bonding experience.

It’s also something I did on airplanes, park benches, church, restaurants, and well. . .anywhere I took my daughter. If I had received my degree while she was breastfeeding, then I would have done just what Thurman did, with my chest held high.

While breastfeeding Liv for 14 months, I received dirty looks (even when covering up, which I did–my choice), was told to breastfeed in bathrooms, and found myself hidden in corner rooms at extended family gatherings while everyone else enjoyed a meal together.

And you wonder why many women choose not to breastfeed?

It’s challenging enough to have your body go through hormonal changes and have a child depend on your for sustenance, but add public (and familial) shaming, and breastfeeding can often take a huge emotional toil on a woman.

When I see moms like Thurman choose to stand against the hate, not because she wanted to make a statement, but because HER DAUGHTER WAS HUNGRY, it reminds me why I made the choice to nurse Liv. It was the right choice for me and my family. This was the right choice for Thurman.

For those who didn’t want to see that mama nursing? Get off her Facebook and the computer, look the other way, mind your own business, and go eat your lunch in a bathroom stall.

Other posts about breastfeeding:
No more boobies
Alicia Silverstone and Breastmilk Sharing

11 comments for “Breastfeeding in Public

  1. July 2, 2014 at 8:00 pm

    It’s interesting to me that I have breast fed in public several times, uncovered (my babies both fought the cover something awful, I just couldn’t get them to tolerate it) and between my two I have done it for about a year now. No one has EVER said anything to me. Sometimes I think it is more obvious that you are breast feeding when you cover up, but I can’t understand why someone would say something then since it seems to be the breasts they are afraid of. Either way, covered or not, I think it’s just incredible that people make such a big deal about it.
    Risa recently posted…Little K’s Incredible Journey – 6 Months Old!My Profile

  2. Mary jo
    July 3, 2014 at 5:17 am

    Well said Jen, as my first born, and all 3 after you, I breastfed everyone of you, yes, in public, at Church, doctors office, where ever… Of course , I’m sure more people object now a days than back when you kids were babes. I say, if people don’t like it, why do they bother looking or noticing for that matter!! I think this young lady deserves an applause for just doing whats natural and not caring what others think!!!!!!!!!

  3. July 7, 2014 at 1:44 am

    As a mom who nursed her kids, I remember how it was when your baby was hungry- you fed them! I used a cover up out of personal preference, but completely agree that many bra ads show more skin than a nursing mom does any day!
    Jeanine @MommyEntourage recently posted…Marvel Universe LIVE! Show Information, Discount Code and Ticket Giveaway!My Profile

    • Jen
      July 7, 2014 at 1:45 am

      Thanks for your comments! The double standard is so frustrating!

  4. July 8, 2014 at 5:34 pm

    “Go eat your lunch in a bathroom stall.” Yep.
    Heather recently posted…God answers prayersMy Profile

  5. July 10, 2014 at 1:18 am

    YES! I’m pregnant with our 3rd and looking forward to nursing another sweet newborn… I nursed my first two for 18 months each and I cannot begin to tell you the number of times I was given dirty looks or chastised for doing so. ESPECIALLY after they turned 1! It’s so frustrating! Thank you for advocating, breast IS best!
    Sarah recently posted…30 Things – My Dream JobMy Profile

    • Jen
      July 11, 2014 at 3:34 am

      Thank you! I believe every mother has a choice, but I think it is wonderful when that choice is to breastfeed.

  6. Pam
    January 1, 2015 at 11:27 am

    I breastfed both of my sons…many years ago. It was the early to mid 80s and I can’t say it was the norm but there was a big movement back then for breastfeeding vs bottle. It is hard for me to imagine that 34 years later, people are still hung up on this and women still have to hide.

    • January 3, 2015 at 7:37 am

      Isn’t it crazy? I had a lot of support, but there were still family events that I had to hide in rooms instead of just sit out covered up enjoying family company.

  7. Tara
    February 3, 2015 at 7:31 pm

    I’ve breastfed all 3 of my children. I do understand the issue with the cover, but I believe that a cover is the way to go. I really don’t want my kids to be exposed to other women’s breasts at such a young age. You may dislike what I have to say, but I don’t think there is anything wrong with modesty and covering up.

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