The Great Debate

Breastfeeding in public: a natural occurrence that should be embraced, or a private activity that should be shielded from the public eye?

Science provides a certainty, that breastfeeding is far superior to using baby formula. The benefits of breastfeeding are numerous: the protection against viruses and infections, better digestion, and a strengthening of the baby’s immune system. All of these benefits far outweigh the advantages of using formula: for example, the convenience and control over quantity of milk, and the option of allowing the father to feed the child.

While our society has embraced breastfeeding as the most beneficial, and of course, natural method of feeding an infant, where and how it is done has been causing some commotion. Some mothers choose to breastfeed only in the privacy of their own home, while bringing a bottle to public venues. Others choose to breastfeed wherever is most convenient, but opt to cover their chest with a light scarf, blanket or shawl, hiding their naked breast from view. Finally, some women have no qualms about whipping out their breasts in a crowded restaurant to feed their hungry infant.

There are now online groups supporting a mother’s right to feed her child the way she pleases. Facebook has a controversial page called: “If breastfeeding offends you, put a blanket over YOUR head!” (With 264,991 members who “like” this page). Currently, there are no heavily enforced “indecent exposure” laws in Canada against women showing their breasts in public, certainly not for breastfeeding, which is a non-sexual act. Breastfeeding on public, city-owned property will never become illegal. With more and more media exposure about the benefits of nourishing a baby the way nature intended, breastfeeding facilities for mothers are sure to multiply. By the same token, we hope this open discussion and exposure will help educate people to accept that breastfeeding will continue to occur in public, as well as to advise mothers to breastfeed in a way that is non-obtrusive to other people. There is sometimes a happy resolution to a debate, and this one is no exception. Easy and convenient “modesty” scarves can be affordable, fashionable, and serve several purposes.

What do you think? Let us know if you have a story about breastfeeding that was inspirational, educational, or even offensive! Leave your comment.

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